Book Report: A Little Exercise for Young Theologians


            Helmut Thielicke was a preacher-theologian who stood between two worlds: He stood between academy and the church. He was born early of December in Barmen, Wuppertal, Germany in 1908.He died on March 5, 1986. He received national attention for his preaching through his proclamation at St. Michaelis Church in Hamburg. His theology and the manner he lived were evidence which gave solidity to the whole of what he preached.[1]


            A Little Exercise for Young Theologian is a narrative expression written to young theologians who have the aspirations to enter the field of theology. This book contains lot of questions from the introductory section which puts the reader or the audience into suspense as the reader attempts to answer these questions. The use of the prop box to reveal the characteristics of the speaker teacher is evidential in scope and context. It points such field of studies such as evangelism, stewardship, pastoral care, and administration in the contextualization of the American churchman leadership (pp. xi). It gives reference of World War II wherein German theologians were flushed out during this period; unfortunately, this had negatively contributed to the evangelization of the secularized world in Germany at the time. It compares and contrasts the activities of theologians and perishers on both sides of the Atlantic to that of the American theologians who speak to the insiders and the outsiders as well. The author argues that the ministers of Jesus must both be theologians and practicing churchman. Theology by definition is the study of God associated with human elements of reasoning; as the result, a theologian who studies God comes with some presuppositions as he or she approaches the Bible studied setting. The author’s argument regarding both minister and churchman being theologians could be true or false; however, it depends on the degree of theological studies each had obtained to be considered theologian. The book talks about the elements of theology that have pervasive unbelief which make their ways into ecclesiastical circles. It motivates the counsel to avoid theology. It states that the Christian faith can not pass through intellectual tests; therefore, Christians should not be subjected to affirmation when it comes to analysis and scrutiny of scriptures. Christians care less about the church as a whole once their denominational church has not been affected. People who do wrong are considered wrong doer instead of people who think to organize the effect of the wrong doing. In the American society, there is anti-intellectualism in religion which has left legacy for pious and warm hearts for God; or anti-intellectualism may be a by-product of twentieth-century generalized religion with its relativism (pp. xi). This could be true for some church settings in the American society wherein Christians have refused to study the scriptures. They rely on the pastor to be spoon fed instead of studying the scripture; as the result, we have people in the church who are not growing knowledgeably. It states that theologians change opinion as they learn more and experience more which produce sometimes mistrust with respect to their messages or teachings. When theologians study beyond their understanding, the elements of humanism are inevitable during their exegesis of scripture or a particular topic they tend to put across to the audience.

            The book also states that ordinary Christian does not wish to ask question as to why the word of God should be approached in any other dimension other than that of simplest faith. If theologians don’t take into account the objections of ordinary people, surely something is not right with theology. The book states that there is a period of theological puberty and during this time; a young theologian should not be permitted to teach as the result of his or her knowledge level. He states it in another way that when someone is leaning to sing, the voice will begin to change gradually; so, is it with a new theologian who is learning to exegete scripture. This person should not be given the go-ahead to preach as the result of his or her word knowledge level. I partially agree with this statement. Someone who is a first year student in theological school does well in preaching a particular theological topic from scriptures. It depends on the individuals involved. New theologian who stands before the congregation has great excitement and embarrassment; as the result, his pulse beat is high (pp. 13). This is true during preaching especially when someone mounts the pulpit to teach or preach. The excitement is there to preach; however, there is a phobia regarding making mistakes during the preaching hour. On the other hand, when theologian feels superior to those they are preaching to, they disdain their audience which is a serious spiritual disease. Such desire is the result of man looking for worldly wisdom instead of Godly one. Since it is true that theologians have some instinct, the church has the right to question the theology when preached. This is done to safeguard the congregation.

            The book talks about dogmatic theology which has to deal with the whole such as philosophy, science, history, anthropology etc. It continues to make mention of sacred theology as opposed to diabolical theology. This kind of the theology can have a coat of mail which crushes the hearer and freezes them to death. This indicates that the kind of theology preached can be detrimental to the hearer.


            Helmut Thielick was a German Protestant theologian who studied philosophy and theology at University of Hamburg from 1960 to 1978. A Little Exercise for Young Theologian is a narrative written to young theologians who desire to enter into the field of theology. It gives the weakness and strengths of young theologians and theologians who think they are superior to their audience. It outlines the weaknesses of theologians with respect to how they minister to their audience. Such thing is referred to as the pathology of young theologians. It talks about the understanding of the reader, the fear exhibited by the ordinary Christians, the shock experienced by the new theologian when preaching, the instinct experienced by every theologians, the theological work, and sacred and diabolical theology preached and experienced by both the audience and the deliverer.


            This book is written in the narrative format to inform theologians about what theology is. At the beginning of the book, there are questions asked which put the reader in suspense while he or she goes about reading the book. The sentences in this book appeared to be translated from a foreign language other than English; consequently, some of the sentences appeared ambiguous or confusing to understand. Some of the sentences are written figuratively or in deep thought to challenge the reader. It gives a perspective on presuppositions the theologians bring to the text. This book actually gives an overview of what theology is and the elements involved of being a theologian.


            In conclusion, theology is an art which is inseparable from the human experience. The more theologians learned and experienced, the more opinions developed from the human perspectives. This is the downside of theology which gives a red light requiring thorough examination of theological issues in the pulpit. With respect to impart, this book teaches me that knowing theology is not all to the Christian life and witness, but it is practicing what one preaches to the congregation; for this, reason, the message of God preached will eventually have impart on the congregation. It also teaches me to be mindful of how I handle theological issue during the process of exegesis, sermon preparation, and the delivery of sermon.

[1]          Retrieved 10/16/2016.