Book Review: Wendy Horger Alsup’s “Practical Theology for Women: How Knowing God Makes a Difference In Our Daily Lives” by Tracy Ellison

Although this post is a review of a book for women, it is my hope that the male readers of the blog will continue to read, for their own benefit and in the hope of being some help to females they know!

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As the wife of a theology student, I have had the privilege of observing the formal study of theology for four years.  During that time, we have acquired a lot of theology books, had many theological discussions and I have been challenged to think about things I’ve never though about before.  I have often looked at Davy’s theology books and thought how great it would be to have read them all, to know and understand all the content!

practical theology for womenHowever, the book being reviewed here is one of my theology books!  A book written by a woman for women, with the aim of helping women to see the importance of knowing theology for themselves and not to be put off by seeming complexity or the perceptions in some circles that theology is written by men for men or that you need to be on a pastor or Bible College student or on a special spiritual plain in order to know and understand.  At its most basic level, ‘theology’ is “the study of God – who He is and what He does” (p.27) and “we study theology that we may know God and be enlightened to the benefits of our relationship with Him” (p.27).

As I read, and re-read this book, I was challenged by Alsup about how practical theology actually is.  What we know of God should not just be for the sake of knowing it, but we should “know Him and then act like you know Him” (p.61).  This is where faith and theology interact – “it is not what you say that demonstrates faith in your life.  It is what you do and how you respond in the moments of crisis” (p.49).  I would like this thought to have been extended to include not just crisis, but ordinary moments, in our day to day lives, in private when no one but God sees us, and in the happy, exciting times of our lives.  Do I act like I know Him also in these moments?

Alsup goes on to teach about God, Father, Son and Spirit, explaining various attributes and posing questions for us to answer in relation to how we live.  Do you claim to believe God is Sovereign and then become fearful and anxious when circumstances spiral out of your control? (p.73)  Are you still working to earn your own position before God? Or do you grasp daily all that Christ’s death on the cross has purchased for you?  She then concludes with the importance of communication – prayer and Bible Study – in order that we might not just know about God, but grow and deepen in relationship with Him.

This book puts the basic truths of who God is in easy to understand language and could be a helpful springboard for readers into further reading and studying of God’s Word, to grow in their knowledge of Him.  But the main thrust has been to help us see how we should not just know theology, but live it out.  I have been most challenged and provoked not just to know God more, but to live like I know Him.  In the ordinary moments, on happy days, in the hidden depths of my own heart, in disappointment, pain and suffering to live out the truth I claim to believe.

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You can purchase your own copy of Practical Theology For Women by Wendy Horger Alsup at ICM Books for £5.99 (includes free delivery within the UK).

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