Book Review of Stanley Grenz and Roger Olson’s “Who Needs Theology”. The book describes the public misconception about theology in the church, the good and the bad, and why proper theology is so useful in today’s society.


The book “Who Needs Theology” by Stanly Grenz and Roger Olson takes the reader on a journey to discover why everyone needs theology and everyone is a theologian. It describes the common misconceptions that many have with theology and exposes those misconceptions to the real purpose and truths of theology. That purpose is not just one of amassing knowledge or growing to know more about the Christian faith, but it is to affect the life of a believer in Christ, and allow one to be able to articulate truth to the surrounding culture. It is to take that knowledge and truly know what one’s beliefs are and whether they are doctrinally sound. Proper theology does not follow with blind faith but develops a strong faith to use as a background as to why one does believe God and why God is real; theology moves us from knowledge to living out ones faith and “help us be the believing people of God in the world today.”[1]

The major thesis of the book and greatest lessons are that theology is not just about a set of beliefs or doctrines but it is about strengthening the foundations of Christian faith, living out that faith in the identity that God created the Christian to be, and not being satisfied to just know truth but to explain that truth to contemporary culture. The authors remind us that theology is not about us, but about knowing God and being God-centered. The authors describe that theology “results in God being glorified even in believers’ minds themselves. Theological reflection leads to thinking rightly about God as well as about oneself and about the world as a creation under God.”[2]

One of the brightest parts of the book is essentially a step-by-step guide in forming theology. These instructions guide the reader by using the critical and constructive tasks of theology to rely on the proper sources to form ones’ theology. They remind the reader that God’s Word will always be the primary source, with the additional sources being tradition and culture. They share the dangers of starting with the wrong idea first and the repercussions that could lead to by not having a theology that is either relevant or effective.

Reading this book reminded me that our lives are to glorify God in all we do and to seek knowledge where our theology “moves beyond our head to touch our heart and even our hands.”[3] A challenge that is posed to the reader is to create one’s own “integrative motif”. While they selected community, what struck me the most as I read was how the authors reinforced the idea that theology can’t just stay inside of a believer. For a believer’s faith to grow, theology is necessary to know what to believe, to discern false doctrines and to know and please God by knowing Him more. That is why my “integrative motif” for this book and Scripture as a whole is the glory of God, specifically revealed through Christ Jesus our Lord.

[1] Stanley Grenz and Roger Olson, Who Needs Theology?: An Invitation to the Study of God (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 94.

[2] Ibid, 48.

[3] Ibid, 46.


Grenz, Stanley, and Roger Olson. Who Needs Theology?: An Invitation to the Study of God. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996.


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