Praise for The Survivor's Guide to Theology


Men and women embarking on the study of systematic theology quickly find themselves awash in a sea of unfamiliar theological terms, historical names and philosophical “-isms.” The Survivor’s Guide to Theology is both a life preserver to help stay afloat and a compass to help navigate these often unfamiliar waters.

While many books on systematic theology provide introductory material, still the reader is often forced to dive right into actual theology without an adequate framework for understanding. Resources for building this framework are available but scattered. This unique book brings them together in one place.

The Survivor’s Guide to Theology is ideal for both introduction and review/reference. The first part deals with the question, “What is theology?” It addresses issues, categories, theory of knowledge, and more. The second part surveys nine major theological systems. For each, the author provides history and background, overview of content and theological distinctives, and a critique. The final part provides the reader with biographical sketches of significant theologians, a brief dictionary of common theological terms, and an extensive annotated bibliography of major theological works.

From the back cover

From his wealth of experience as a respected professor of theology, and with a good mentor's sensitivity to a student's budget, Sawyer has effectively created a tidy theological reference library in one volume. It concisely covers all the basic introductory issues, orients beginners to the main traditions of doing theology, profiles the major thinkers, explains terminology essential to theological literacy, and concludes with an extensive annotated bibliography. By my calculation, that's just about five volumes in one! From dispensationalism to liberation theology, from Charles Wesley to Paul Tillich, and from epistemology to eucharist, Sawyer capably and even-handedly delivers the big picture. We anticipate many grateful readers. With the help of this volume, young theologians will not only survive but thrive!

“Sawyer has effectively created a tidy theological reference library in one volume. From Dispensationalism to liberation theology, from Charles Wesley to Paul Tillich, and from epistemology to Eucharist, Sawyer capably and evenhandedly delivers the big picture. We anticipate many grateful readers.”

Glen G. Scorgie, Professor of Theology,

Bethel Seminary,
San Diego.



"The Survivor's Guide to Theology is a truly unique and extremely helpful book. It provides the reader with a richly-informed and blended approach to theology that addresses crucial issues from a variety of perspectives: methodological, biographical, historical, philosophical, and systematic. One need not agree with everything in the book to profit immensely from Sawyer's wide-ranging research into the critical theological themes facing the church today. His interpretation of the various traditions and their representative theologians is fair and informative. And unlike many who have written similar volumes, his writing style is clear and engaging. Highly recommended!"


Sam Storms, Ph.D.

Enjoying God Ministries

Even though The Survivor's Guide to Theology has a very light-hearted title, it is by no means a light-weight book. Having taught a similiar discipline for a number of years, I find this book to be the missing link in theology.

As a student of theology years ago, I remember going through the library looking for information in this book. Unfortunately, such information is scattered all over, thus costing me time and frustration. With this book, such frustrating experience is over. I am pleased to see this book as a one-stop starting point for theological research. Its advantage comes in several forms. First, it is thoroughly encyclopedic without being bogged down at any one fine point. Second, it breadth is wide to cover trends from
ancient to modern. After seeing such an organized effort, I think the student will see that navigation at the deep end of theology does not need to be a torturously painful process. While there is no short-cut in life, there are certain tools that will allow us to work at the next level. The Survivor's Guide to Theology is one of such useful tools. Every theology student will do well to use it.

Sam Tsang, Ph.D.

Academic Dean & Professor of New Testament

VP of Overseas Theological Seminary

San Jose, CA


Jim Sawyer's book, The Survivor's Guide to Theology is an excellent and helpful addition to the library of the theologically curious. Intelligent yet succinct, broad, but focused, introductory, yet developed; The Survivor's Guide to Theology stands out as unique among the plethora of theological volumes currently in print. The Survivor's Guide is different because it steps back and takes a look at Christian theology through the lens of its various movements. Instead of losing the forest for the trees, it pays careful attention to the way Christian belief has been understood by some of the faith's major leaders and their followers. Conveniently, the guide serves as both a narrative of the movements and an excellent reference for both biographical information and term understanding. Finally, the first 200 pages of the book provide an excellent introduction to the study of theology. Overall, Sawyer's book offers a unique contribution to the study of Christian theology that will not disappoint the reader, either the newcomer to Christian theology or the seasoned student. 

Eric Sorenson, Th.M., D. Min (Cand.)

Dean of the Seminary,

Pacific Island Bible College

Mangilao, Guam