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Review: Coffeehouse Theology

Coffeehouse Theology
by Ed Cyzewski (Author)

There are theology books and there are books about theology. This is a book about theology, an important distinction. There aren’t a whole lot of “theological answers” in this book for it’s not the purpose. Coffeehouse theology is a book preparing you the reader to find answers in the time and space in which you find yourself.

According to Ed, his desire was to create a synthesis book that could be easily consumed by everyone, and he succeeded. Coffeehouse theology exposes those things that we bring to theology but not in a way that makes us feel bad about those things.

Ed explains in a matter of fact way that we all bring our context and culture to our reading of scripture and our understanding of God, the goal is not to stop doing this, the goal is to understand and accept that we do it, factor that in and then expand beyond those things to develop a deeper and richer theological understanding.

Far from the ivory towers, Ed brings theology to “the coffeehouse” - to us. He starts the book by explaining that we are all theologians. As he says in the introduction, “I like to think of theology as reflecting on or thinking about God.”

We all think about God and then turn that thinking into ideas and those ideas into actions…therefor, theology is important to all of us who call ourselves Christians. And, in a way, to anyone anywhere of any belief who thinks reflects on or thinks about God.

Ed continues by talking about how theology enters into our daily lives in often surprising ways and without a good understanding of what’s going on when we have those moments of reflection, we can find ourselves ill equipped - not in an apologetic way, but rather finding our reflections and subsequent life actions rather “thin”. (my words)

Coffeehouse theology takes us on a journey of understanding ourselves - our history, philosophical underpinnings, context, culture, traditions, etc. that make up our worldview and our “God view” and then it goes on to explore how we can appropriately and fully use those things to enrich our God reflections and ultimately our lives as Christians.

I appreciated very much that Ed brought in the Church tradition and the global Church into this discussion. If he had merely revealed our own biases, the book would have fallen very very flat. Instead, Ed challenges us to develop a well rounded approach to theology.

I like how Grace summarized the book in this way

The book lays out a clear guide for developing a theology that is, most importantly, centered on a relationship with God, informed by His Spirit, based in Scripture, rounded out with an understanding of Christianity throughout history and around the globe, and aware of the influences and biases of current culture.

Coffeehouse theology is engaging and “friendly”. It is peppered with stories and Ed does an excellent job at taking the reader seriously, not patronizing and not shaming. This book would be an excellent introduction to a church Bible Study class or any discussion group that is bringing in Scripture and “God talk”. There is also a supplemental study/discussion guide that brings specific life issues into the equation, taking the book to the next level of practical application.

Whether you are a lifelong student of theology or think theology is only for academia, this book will revitalize your reflections on God, get one for you a few for friends and start talking about God - because the truth is, we are all theologians.

This review is part of a blog tour, follow the tour here.


  1. Pingback - Swinging from the Vine: Today’s Blog Tour Stop | :: in.a.mirror.dimly :: — October 3, 2008 #

    [...] Fisher who blogs at Swinging from the Vine will be blogging on Coffeehouse Theology as part of today’s installment of the blog tour. [...]

  2. Mark R — October 3, 2008 #

    Thanks for the review … masterly!!!

    You BET I”M buying this book - I’ve a birthday comming up,
    To Mark,
    Love Mark - the card will read.

  3. Mak — October 3, 2008 #

    hehe…good for you Mark! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did :)

  4. Carlos — October 4, 2008 #

    Mak, you should have posted this review a couple of weeks ago so I could’ve picked the book up and be reading it during last week (Brazil) and this week (Arica-Chile) and long plane rides; thanks though for the review; question for musings - if one has multiple cultural contexts backgound, does that give that person a more objective view of Trinitarian God?


  5. ed cyzewski — October 4, 2008 #

    My thanks to everyone for your kind words.

    Carlos, you bring up a great point that I didn’t quite touch on in the book. Without the benefit of a multicultural perspective, I did seek out a couple of Asian-American and Korean-American friends for their takes on theology. I wouldn’t use the word objective, but rather broader… as in they had a broader perspective because of their multicultural approach. I’d be curious to hear what others think of that.

  6. Carlos — October 5, 2008 #

    Ed, thanks for your coment. After I read the book I would like to dialogue on this subject of cultural context as I have a significant interest in it…

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