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Fruitful Theology | Book Review

Updated: 6 days ago


book cover of fruitful theology on a desk with notebooks and pens.


"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.


While growing in our knowledge of God leads us to loving Him more, there’s a flip side to it, sullied by our sinful nature. Pride creeps in, conceit hardens our hearts, and instead of loving God and others, we love ourselves and what we know.


Instead of unity, there’s division.


Rather than listening, we’re telling.


So how do we respond to this conundrum?


Sometimes we’d rather just sit back and avoid it all, but that’s contrary to Scriptures imperatives to grow in knowledge. Maybe we’ll just take our knowledge and go somewhere else if others don’t agree. Or we’ll stay but spend our time holding onto our convictions, perpetually discontent with our brothers and sisters around us.


By the grace of God, there’s a way forward.


And this is what author Ronni Kurtz has in mind as he writes, Fruitful Theology: How the Life of the Mind Leads to the Life of the Soul.


Many have seen the devastating impact of divisiveness in the church, so he helps us rewind to see, once again, the joy, benefit and unity in growing our knowledge of God and specifically how that growth displays the fruit of the Spirit.

book cover for fruitful theology by ronni kurtz

Book Review | Fruitful Theology: How the Life of the Mind Leads to the Life of the Soul by Ronni Kurtz


Content

My Take

Scriptures On Fruitfulness


Content

Purpose of the Book

Ronni writes this book not for the sake of doing theology, but to examine what we believe and how it cultivates the spiritual fruit in our lives, for “the life of the mind leads to the life of the soul.”


Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1 Why Do the Theologians Rage?

CHAPTER 2 Love

CHAPTER 3 Joy

CHAPTER 4 Peace

CHAPTER 5 Patience

CHAPTER 6 Kindness

CHAPTER 7 Goodness

CHAPTER 8 Faithfulness

CHAPTER 9 Gentleness

CHAPTER 10 Self-Control

CONCLUSION Strong in Mind, Gentle in Spirit

quote from Fruitful Theology that says it is the conviction of this book that as we set out on this adventure of contemplating God and all things in relation to God, we will be transformed.

Summary

He takes a chapter for each fruit, to explore how it's shaped by theology and how we live it out.


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.

quote from fruitful theology by ronni kurtz that says the life of our mind is immediately connected to the life of our hearts and the life of our hands.

My Take

Knowing God Transforms Us

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 ton of carbs despite having diabetes, or not using a mosquito net properly because of animistic beliefs, you can provide information but until it seeps into the heart, change is hard.

Keep in mind though, our spiritual growth isn’t dependent purely upon ourselves, it’s a work of the Spirit who guides us into truth and reminds us of the words of God. Scripture tells us we are being renewed each and every day (2 Cor. 4:16) and are being transformed into the likeness of Christ (2 Cor 3:18).


Now, when I consider this in light of my own spiritual growth, the words in these pages convict. I ask 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. However, when our spiritual fruit doesn't line up with His, it's time to step back and reflect on the One we serve in humble repentance.

quote from fruitful theology by ronni kurtz.

My Recommendation

This is on my favourites list!


If you’ve never touched a theology book I'd highly recommend this title to help you get going.

If you already have a basic understanding of theology, this book will encourage you to deeply consider your spiritual fruit.

For anyone who wants to explore how our doctrine intersects with how we live (and how this should always be the case) here’s a great resource for you.


May we ever be growing in knowledge and fruitfulness.

quote from Fruitful theology by ronni kurtz that says we are the kind of people with the mental capacity to remember an avalanche of anxiety but we have intellectual amnesia when it comes to recalling God's faithfulness.

Quick Stats

# of pages: 192 pages

Level of Difficulty: Moderate (for theological concepts, but these are well explained)

My Rating: 5 stars!



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Scriptures on Fruitfulness

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (Jn. 15:5)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Gal 5:22-23)
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. (Mt. 12:33)
By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. (Jn. 15:8)
So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Col 1:10)

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

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