Speaking of God
Anthony G. Siegrist
Reviewed by Joshua Nightingale
What is the subject?
Siegrist sets out to write a “little introductory handbook on Christian theology.” Speaking of God weaves together biblical, historical, and personal accounts to demonstrate the means and purpose of theological discourse.
Siegrist structures his book according to the biblical narrative, using these events as the opportunity to introduce theological terms and systems and then tie them into contemporary life.
Who is the author?
Anthony G. Siegrist is the lead minister of Ottawa Mennonite Church. He has advanced degrees and taught at Prairie College, Three Hills, Alta. He strives to carry the role of pastor-theologian.
As Siegrist moves through the biblical narrative, he brings up relevant theological discussions. He is not interested in prescribing a particular view for the reader, but instead describes the shape of the conversation, its various sides and why it’s important for the participants involved. Often he suggests a stance that is open to appreciating or synthesizing all the options at hand.
In presenting these theological ideas, he frequently couches it in the historical context they arose or highlights a particular theologian’s contribution to the conversation.
As a response to the predominantly Protestant aversion to tradition, Siegrist places our faith journey in the larger context of the communion of the saints—those seeking God throughout history. As such, Siegrist invites a wide range of contributors to his theological discussion, however many of the inclusions are shallow because of the nature of the project.
In a similar vein, Siegrist also consistently directs the conversation toward theology done in the context of the faith community.
In contrast to modern individualism Siegrist insists faith is not developed alone abstractly, but together in the body of Christ through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and as such has physical real implications in transforming our lives.
Because Speaking of God has so much to cover in such little space and the narrative structure employed spirals out kaleidoscopically, Siegrist is always at risk of losing his reader in rabbit trails which are made exponentially worse by how meaningless and unnecessarily long some of his anecdotes and parenthetical asides are.
Who should read it?
Siegrist’s language is simple and his tone is conversational. I would readily give this book to a new Christian or a congregant who is interested in deepening their faith through investigating the broad stream of theology.
Speaking of God would also work well as an assigned reading for a first year Introduction to Christian Theology course.
“The church is where we learn to speak about God. It’s the place where our lives are refashioned into the form of Jesus.”
“…our goal is never to reach an end point where everything is finally clear and right. Our goal is humble faithfulness in our time.”
“If we are to serve our communities, we must discover and speak the things we hold to be true. We will recognize our own truthful speech by its hopeful and patient tone. Truth can be spoken patiently.”