How to Read Theology for All Its Worth: A Guide for Students

Reviewed  by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


How to Read Theology for All Its Worth: A Guide for Students


Karin Spiecker Stetina


Zondervan Academic

Publication Date:

September 15, 2020




224 pages


As Karin Spiecker Stetina writes in this book’s preface, “Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are all theologians. We all have convictions about God and creation, and we read Scripture according to those convictions. The real question isn’t if we are theologians, but rather if we are good theologians.”

Stetina spends the rest of the book outlining how everyday Christians (with an emphasis on students) can read theological works well. She covers various important elements about assessing a theological work, including:

  • How to become a discerning reader of theology
  • The place of Scripture and prayer in reading and interpreting theology
  • Understanding context, sources, themes and viewpoint in a theologian’s work

Stetina does a great job of making important ideas sound simple, without writing so simply that the book becomes shallow. Books giving “clear and simple instructions for students” often end up being more or less CliffsNotes books with extra padding, collections of impersonal info boxes and clinical explanations. Stetina avoids that problem; she writes in a way that keeps things brief but also sounds personal. As a result, readers get the sense they’re not being lectured at but being invited into a discussion, one that has gone on for many years with plenty of rich material to explore.

Stetina achieves a similar balancing act when she addresses sectarian debates. Since assessing a theological work requires that readers think about the author’s denominational stance, Stetina has to describe some things that set Roman Catholicism, Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy apart. She encourages readers to assess how denominations affect authors’ approach to the material, and talks about how to see if an author’s ideas are inconsistent or biased. Beyond that, she doesn’t compare and contrast the denominations or give away her own denominational stance. She shows students how to spot poor thinking, equips them to look for the right answers, and then leaves them to reach their own conclusions.

A highly readable, highly informative guide to theology.


Rating (1 to 5 stars)

5 stars

Suggested Audience

Students interested in finding the best theological sources, as well as laymen readers looking to expand their religious education.

Christian Impact

The author emphasizes that prayer and reading Scripture, as well as clear thinking, are all important to reading theology well. This approach encourages readers to never make theology too impersonal, even as they use logic and other analytic tools.

How to Read Theology for All Its Worth: A Guide for Students

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