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August 2013

Relational Theology -- A Book Review

Relational TheologyRelational Theology:                   A Contemporary Introduction

Edited by Brint Montgomery, Thomas Jay Oord and Karen Winslow                                                  

The book, Relational Theology: A  Contemporary Introduction, is a bit like one of those photomosaics that is composed of a collection of subject specific photographs that are arranged and presented in a way that when observed as a whole reveal a larger target image.

In this book the editors, Montgomery, Oord and Winslow have assembled a variety of essays on the topic of Relational Theology that when considered together reveal an image of the Relational God at the heart of Relational Theology.  They call this book an introduction, and introductions—of people or theologies—are as varied as the one giving the introduction.  However, each contributor in this contemporary introduction of Relational Theology very effectively illuminates the different facets of the radiant gem that is Relational Theology.

This book is a source of light.  As I read each and every essay, I found myself knowing and wanting to know the Relational God better.  I began to recognize God’s hand in nearly every aspect of my life and I identified areas in my theology that weren’t very relational.

Within the idea of relational theology I encountered a God who is cooperative, creative, diverse, loving, sociable and alive.  John Donne’s quote below gives words to the concept and the God that I encountered in this introduction to Relational Theology,

Religion is not a melancholy: the Spirit of God is not a damp: the Church is not a grave: it is a fold, it is an ark, it is a net, it is a city, it is a kingdom, not only a house but a house that hath many mansions in it.  Always it is a plural thing, consisting of many.  And very good grammarians amongst the Hebrews have thought and said that that name by which God notifies Himself to the world in the very beginning of Genesis, which is Elohim, as it is a plural word there, so it hath no singular.  They say we cannot name God but plurally; so sociable, so communicable, so extensive, so derivative of Himself, is God, and so manifold are the beams and the emanations that flow from Him.

Relational Theology is a description of something that is moving, dynamic and alive.  It is about a God that is engaged and at work—forming, restoring, creating, shaping and loving a world and its inhabitants that were created for good and for God.

The best way to get a clear view, or photograph, of a moving object is to move in relation to it.  The book, Relational Theology: A Contemporary Introduction is a great read that will get your mind and heart in step with the Relational God who is clearly visible at the center of Relational Theology.