This week’s Trackback Thursday features Wendy Alsup’s Practical Theology for Women: How Knowing God Makes a Difference in Our Daily Lives. Women face many battles, and it is essential that she be grounded in her knowledge of God. Alsup provides a practical and relevant introduction to theological concepts for women who long to understand the Word, but may have been intimated of theology and doctrine, or perhaps thought that such topics were reserved for seminary students only.
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Below, please check out an interview with the author:
How did the idea for this book originate? Who do you think will benefit most from it?
Several years ago I heard a sermon at church that raised some questions about a doctrinal issue. I brought up the issue with a friend of mine, curious to get her thoughts on it. She stopped me and said she only studies the Bible for practical application and avoids getting involved in discussions of doctrine and theology. That started me thinking—isn’t theology supposed to be practical? What’s the point of doctrine and theology if it doesn’t matter in real life?
I began to develop a class at church that eventually became the foundation for the book. My desire has been to reach women who think that theology is not for them or are put off by the technical jargon used by many theologians.
Why is your book specific to women? Doesn’t everyone need theology?
Certainly everyone needs theology—I just think women are underrepresented as target audiences of theological texts and the theological community in general. There are very few women’s books that emphasize theology, therefore that is where my particular burden is.
Some people are put off by the word theology. How would you define that term?
I use the term theology at its most basic level—simply the study of God. Biology is the study of life, zoology the study of animals, anthropology the study of man, and theology the study of God. Proverbs 9:10 says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding, so understanding the character of our God is essential to any hope for wise practical daily living. In this book I try to do 2 things: communicate theology clearly and understandably, and then show why these theological issues matter to our daily lives as women.
You write, “Truly, there is nothing like a good grasp of accurate knowledge about God to enable you to meet the practical demands of your life—the practical demands of being a daughter, mother, wife, sister, or friend.” Can you explain to our audience how knowing God makes a difference in our daily lives?
I regularly have to stop in the midst of the daily trauma I find myself and review what I know about God. It ALWAYS makes a difference in how I view and respond to the issue with which I’m dealing. I get stressed trying to control things that are fully out of my control. I have to stop my emotional roller coaster and think through God’s character. I know God is sovereign—He is in control. I know God is compassionate—He cares for His children with a love that defies our ability to explain. And I know God is wise—He knows what He’s doing. These attributes make all the difference when I am trying to make sense of circumstances out of my control. They don’t change my circumstances, but they change my perspective, which makes all the difference in the world.
What suggestions would you offer church leaders interested in strengthening the theological education of the women in their churches?
I hope my book will be a stepping-stone for this very purpose. Beyond that, I suggest looking for women leaders who first and foremost understand grace. I also encourage focusing more on Word driven rather than topic driven women’s studies. I’d love to see women studying Scripture and asking themselves, “What does this reveal to me about God?” And then, “How does that attribute of God make a difference in how we should think about the circumstances affecting us right now?”
Ephesians is a great book for a women’s study. Paul details our theology in chapters 1 through 3 and then shows in chapters 4 through 6 how that theology affects every aspect of our daily lives (as wives, moms, coworkers, in Christian community). The gospel of Luke, I Peter, and Ruth are good studies as well.