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Fruitful Theology

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Fruitful Theology is a dissection of how we do theology on a public level wrong. Kurtz (the author) takes the fruit of the spirit and apply it to how we should approach theology. Or rather how we should approach the discussion of theology. Because every Christian at some point does theology (study of God) yet how we discuss theology often lacks what we learn about God and it lacks fruit, specifically it lacks the fruit of the Spirit which is a mark of having truly been with God and having allowed Him to shape and mold you.

A fruitful theology is one in which the fruit of the Spirit is on display in it’s discussion. For us to truly be theologians, we must be marked by the fruit and by the very hand and DNA of God.

Definitely would recommend. And definitely do think any and everyone in a space to study and discuss God need to dig into this book and marinate on it.

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Fruitful Theology by Ronni Kurtz is a dive into the theology of the fruit of the Spirit. The author explores how this portion of scripture explains how the Spirit impacts the lives of the saints. A book that most Christians would enjoy.

*I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my review.

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Such an interesting and important book! The author takes the fruit of the Spirit and beautifully explains the theology around each one, with his goal being that our knowledge shape our lifestyle. I will be thinking about this one for a while!

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In Fruitful Theology, Ronni Kurtz reminds us that we are all theologians, regardless of what or how much we believe about God. Each chapter outlines the fruit of the Spirit in relation to theology in a moving way. The main premise of the book is that the study and “result of theology done well should be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22).”

Kurtz says, “when Christians set their minds toward the deep things of God in the task of theology, we set our gaze on none other than the triune God.” Theology is meant to lead us to worship, and “as we set out on this adventure of contemplating God and all things in relation to God, we will be transformed.”

For me, Fruitful Theology truly accomplishes the author’s desired outcome in moving my own theological journey “a few steps closer” (if not many steps closer!) toward the fruit of the Spirit.

If there is one book I’ve read recently on theology that has fueled the longings of my heart to know God, it is this one. Far too often, the truths about God have been used as a weapon in unloving and ungracious ways. Each chapter both reminded me and opened up a greater depth in how the fruit of the Spirit should permeate our lives in regard to theology and how we love God and people. As the author states, “A mind full of truth should lead to a heart full of love and hands full of care.”

The chapter concerning self-control was especially insightful, helpful, and eye-opening, presenting the topic in a way I have never before heard.

I was inspired to seek to live out the fruit of the Spirit toward God and others, studying each more deeply to inspire me further in this endeavor. This book is a treasure chest full of practical help and truth, thoroughly written and presented to the reader.

I received a review copy of this book for free from Netgalley, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. All opinions are my own.

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Perhaps you've never thought about the connection between theology and the fruit of the Spirit. Maybe you don't see the appeal of the life of the mind, but instead prefer to focus on cultivating a deep life of the soul. In Fruitful Theology, Ronni Kurtz shows that theology doesn't merely inform the way we think about living the Christian Life, but rather, theology shapes how we live that life each day. By matching wonderful theological truths to the fruit of the Spirit, Kurtz reveals that the overlap of these two spheres is much greater than we may have considered before. How do we learn what love is? Study the doctrine of the Atonement. How do we rest in self-control? Read of the providence of God. By shining a spotlight here, Kurtz reminds us that theology is the vehicle of faith seeking understanding, and is our greatest guide in helping our hearts to love what our minds will contemplate.

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This book ought to be required reading in a Bible college's introduction class that freshman have to take.

Ronni has written an incredibly readable work that encourages the reader towards a difficult topic not by force or shame, but by a demonstration of love. While having never taken a class with Professor Kurtz I have heard the testimony of students who speak highly of his love for theology and desire for his students to love it as well. This book carries the same spirit I've heard about. He comes across as a friend who has tasted and seen something good and wants to bring the reader along to share in the goodness of Theology that leads to bearing fruit in the life of the believer.

This book would serve both new students very well in preparing them to begin their studies in theology and lay christians who are scared of the words "theology" or "doctrine." He uses a handful of specific doctrines to demonstrate how they connect to the fruit of the Spirit. In doing this the book both serves as a basic introduction to some theological concepts while being an instruction to worshipful study of theology that leads to obedience.

The reason I dropped a star is that the author tries to tackle the issue of divisiveness in theological discourse in our day and simply doesn't have the room or desire (I think) to deal with it properly. In the first chapter he points out ways that theology can be weaponized and used improperly, and throughout the book notes people such as "social media theologians" or others that are using it improperly. But the complexities of how theology IS divisive and how Christians do need to warn and discern and defend the sheep was not the aim of the author nor was it accomplished. I simply think the book could have stayed more focused on the positive aspects of the point, because some of sweeping statements made about theological debate simply could not be dealt with in proper detail in a work like this.

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
All opinions are my own.

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Many of us have heard about it. Kids learn it in Sunday School. Sunday school teachers love to do crafts on this topic. They have activities to show their individual attributes. Preachers go through each attribute in their sermon series. Based on Galatians 5:22-23, the fruit of the Spirit is one of the most popular topics in Church and Christian circles. From Bible study materials to popular books, one can easily find resources on how to teach this. However, while many books deal with practical applications, not many have adequately dealt with the theology behind the fruit of the Spirit. This book fills in the gap with a theological treatise that undergirds each attribute. The central thesis of this book is that a fruitful theology underlines the foundation for fruitful spirituality. In other words, without a proper theology, we will not be able to fully understand how to apply and cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in us. For some people, the word "theology" might be quite intimidating. That is why author and professor Ronni Kurtz spends time explaining the critical place of theology. In a way, we are all theologians, albeit to different degrees. When we start to think of God, we are already theologizing. Not only that, he gives several arguments about the importance of a theological underpinning when studying the fruit of the Spirit. He tackles some of the misgivings among some people with regard to theology being "weaponized as an instrument" for division, pride, replacement of wisdom, etc. He then puts forth arguments for why theology is important. The chief reason is that the mind and the Spirit are closely connected. Theology is about the exercise of the mind. Fruitful theology is about the exercising of the mind toward expounding the depth of insight with regard to the fruit of the spirit. It is a means to cultivate Christian virtue. He then gives us some tips on a broad understanding of Galatians 5:19-26 before jumping into each attribute of the Spirit.

My Thoughts
Books like this are long overdue. It is common to hear how laypeople dismiss the importance of theology even in the most common Bible passages. Thanks to difficult words they find hard to understand, some buy into the "Only the Bible is Enough" philosophy, jettisoning all manner of theological talk in favour of things more "biblical." Others focus more on practical applications, believing that God's Word is never meant to be difficult to understand. Both points of view are seriously flawed. Those who insist on a literal Bible-only camp are indirectly accusing scholars and theologians of unbiblical teaching. How could that be when the very basis of their studies and research are on the Bible? Those who insist on mainly the practical side would struggle with what to apply. Theology informs the right applications. Any premature rush to applications will be like empty vessels trying to make a lot of sounds. That is why I truly appreciate the author for walking readers through the basics of what theology is and why it is important for us to use this tool to study the fruit of the Spirit.

The chapters alone provide much fodder for preachers and teachers intending to teach the Fruit of the Spirit. The theological underpinning might require some customization if preachers intend to use this resource to preach or teach the Fruit of the Spirit. Instead of using the content wholesale, it would be far more beneficial for preachers/teachers to get the concepts written and to contextualize the message into their sermons. More importantly, recognize that this book is about the training of the mind to see the work of the Spirit that is consistent with the overall theological thrust. For those new to the study of theology, this book can be a convenient primer to appreciate the richness of theology. For those who have some theological training, this book reminds us of the basics of letting theology guide our ministry.

I recommend this book warmly for teaching, preaching, and as a resource for discussion groups.

Ronni Kurtz (PhD, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is an Assistant Professor of Theology at Cedarville University. Before moving to Ohio, Ronni was a pastor in Kansas City, Missouri for seven years where he also taught theology at Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College. He is the author of No Shadow of Turning: Divine Immutability and the Economy of Redemption and Fruitful Theology: How the Life of the Mind Leads to the Life of the Soul.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.

This book has been provided courtesy of B&H Publishing and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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"The heart cannot love what the mind does not know" Jen Wilkin
This is one among my favourite quotes, reminding me of the immense value of growing in knowledge of the Lord - how can I love what I don't believe or trust? And when the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength...I can't help but long to know Him more.

There are, however, dangers of knowledge - particularly in the church - as theology can give rise to divisiveness and judgemental attitudes. One person's passion becomes all encompassing and you can't figure out why other's don't see it the way you do.

Responding to this conundrum usually rises with emotion and impacts how we interact with, and treat, others. It's with this in mind Ronni Kurtz writes Fruitful Theology: How the Life of the Mind Leads to the Life of the Soul.

Many have seen devastating impact of divisiveness in the church, so he helps us rewind to see, once again, the joy and benefit of growing in our knowledge of God but specifically how that growth is intended to influence our display of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). He takes a chapter for each fruit, to explore how it's shaped by theology and how we live it out.
"As we set out on this adventure of contemplating God and all things in relation to God, we will be transformed."
On Love. God doesn't have love, he is love. This means when we enter his presence, we're brought into the very presence of love! His gracious love seeps into us enabling our own hearts to extend that love to others.

On Joy. We find fullness of joy in the presence of God because as we gaze on Him we're confronted with the good, the beautiful and the true; we consider what we deserve and what we get in Christ; our confusion turns to clarity; and we're practicing deep dependence on Him.

On Peace. "We have been infected with disunity, and the sickness has found its way into the church." The gospel points us to peace with God, our ministry as peacemakers, and our peace with each other in unity.

On Patience. "Theological wisdom is not microwavable. To arrive at a place of wisdom in the theological life, you will need wrestling, contemplation, prayer, and patience." We're reminded how God's patience toward us leads us to have patience with others.

On Kindness. Considering God's kindness toward us and the depravity of our own hearts,"we are aware enough of sin's impact on us to know we are just a couple of bad decisions away from displaying the same unkindness." May we see others as those created in the image of God and deserving of our kindness.

On Goodness. "Not only does the Bible give us a grand vision for a goodness of being, but it also gives us a grand vision for a goodness of doing." Our contemplation of God's goodness bids us to pursue our neighbor's good in our speech, with our time, our pursuit of justice, and with the gospel.

On Faithfulness. "Christian theology aids us on our journey toward the spiritual fruit of faithfulness by reminding us of the faithfulness of God and reinforcing our own faithfulness." Our hearts will not naturally become faithful, it requires discipline.

On Gentleness. Most required in how we navigate conflicts, as we display gentleness of tongue and of temper.

On Self-Control. "By our self-control, we possess the wisdom to choose that which will bring life to ourselves and glory to our God instead of that which will bring destruction to ourselves and glory to the prince of darkness." What we give space to in our minds will directly impact our heart and our hands. May we ever be mindful of this real estate and attend to what we think about.

Over the years as a healthcare professional, whether here in Canada or in Africa, I've seen over and over that knowledge does not necessarily lead to a change in behaviour. Whether it's eating a lot of carbs despite having diabetes, or not using a mosquito net properly because of animistic beliefs.

Now, when I consider this in light of my own reading and growing in faith, the words in these pages were really convicting as I asked myself how what I believe and how the truths I'm learning are (or aren't) leading to changes in my character.

It's humbling to be sure.

As we abide in Christ, our knowledge grows deeper and, by His grace, we will be transformed more and more into His likeness. If the fruit of our character doesn't line up with His, it's time to step back and consider whether we know the One we're following. Then, fix our eyes on His Word to contemplate who He is.

This is on my favourites list! I'd recommend this for anyone who wants to explore how our knowledge of God intersects with how we live.

Quick Stats
# of pages: 192 pages
Level of Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
My Rating: 5 stars!

*A big thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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