Preus, J. A. O. The Second Martin: The Life and Theology of Martin Chemnitz. Saint Louis: Concordia, 1994.
Martin Chemnitz has been an interest of mine since I read portions of his Loci Theologici for a seminary class in Reformation era literature. In my dissertation I drew on Chemnitz’s Examination Of the Council of Trent in sketching Reformation views of tradition. What was already evident from these readings was the breadth of Chemnitz’s skill. He had an expert knowledge of the church fathers, he was a careful exegete with skill in languages, and he was a precise systematizer. His historical significance lies in his role of systematizing orthodox Lutheran thought. Luther was not a systematic writer, and Melanchthon’s work contains problematic material from an orthodox Lutheran perspective. But Chemnitz set the foundation for Lutheran theology both in his own writing and in his contribution to the Formula of Concord.
Preus’s biography of Chemnitz illuminates these aspects of Chemnitz and more. The book is actually more than a biography. Part one sets the historical stage. We see the Reformation unfold after Luther, with particular attention given to Melanchthon and to the political situation. Part two is the biography proper. Part three summarizes Chemnitz’s theology, and in doing so Preus gives detailed summaries of Chemnitz’s entire body of work.
Preus is a conservative Lutheran, and he clearly believes that orthodox Lutheranism is correct and other theological positions are wrong. The non-Lutheran conservative will find himself in agreement when the doctrines of Scripture or justification are under discussion. Discussions about the two natures of Christ and the presence of his human nature in the Lord’s Supper would be a point of disagreement.
I commend this book as an introduction to Lutheran theology and as an introduction to a Lutheran theologian who deserves to be widely read.
Marshall, Bruce D. “Quod Scit Una Uetula: Aquinas on the Nature of Theology.” The Theology of Thomas Aquinas. Edited by Rik Van Nieuwenhowe and Joseph Wawrykow. University of Notre Dame Press, 2005.
This article does what its title says and looks at Aquinas’s view of the nature of theology. There are the expected discussions of whether theology should be considered a science, how Aquinas affirmed this in light of the way Aristotle defined science, why this was a significant affirmation for him, and so on. However, one of the most interesting claims in this article was that Thomist natural theology differs from Aquinas’s actual beliefs. Marshall argues that Aquinas believed that the existence of God cannot be truly known apart from faith because the Trinity is essential to who God is. Thus people may come to believe in a god, but not in the Biblical God, through natural reason. For Aquinas, the reason for holding both of these beliefs is rooted in Romans 1.
C. Hassell Bullock, “Wisdom, The ‘Amen’ of Torah,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 52, no. 1 (2009): 3-8.
Bullock sees the Wisdom literature as affirming the teaching of the Torah. He highlights the links between their creation theology, monotheism, and the covenantal foundation of the “fear of the Lord.”
Carson, D. A. “When Did the Church Begin?” Themelios 41, no. 1 (April 2016): 1-4.
Carson seeks to weigh the competing lines of evidence to this answer in a series of seven points.
1. He points out that the language of assembly/congregation/church (קהל/ἐκκλησία) occurs of the people of God in both testaments. Further, the New Testament refers to Old Testament saints as part of the ἐκκλησία: Acts 7:38; Heb. 2:12; 12:22-24. He concludes, “One cannot help but see some kind of profound continuity in the people of God.”
2. The church includes both Jews and Gentiles. Carson understands this in terms of the olive tree metaphor in Romans 11. He is not entirely clear, but he seems to be implying that the olive tree/vine is the church with the natural branches (Jews) and (Gentiles) being broken off or grafted into it.
3. Carson notes that those who favor beginning the church at Pentecost will note that ἐκκλησία language is not always used technically. Further, since the congregation in Israel was made up only of Israelites, the church as a Jewish and Gentile body is something distinct. Those who see the church existing in the Old Testament would argue that if the New Testament writers are willing to speak of a church in the Old Testament, we should not shy from doing so. Further, “the post-Pentecost church is a new body, but that it is the same but expanded body.”
4. Those who hold the church began at Pentecost are in danger of “dividing what God has put together” and those who hold that the church existed in the Old Testament are “in danger of overlooking the ‘new’ things associated with the ἐκκλησία from Pentecost on.”
5. “If the focus is on the oneness and continuity of the redeemed people of God, all of them secured by the Lord Jesus, surely Scripture demands that we affirm pretty strongly the side of the covenant theologian. The assembly (church) of the firstborn in Hebrews 12 seems to include saints from both covenants, including those alive now, who are “gathered” around the throne of the living God. Add the kind of linguistic evidence I have just briefly surveyed, and the case is pretty strong. Nevertheless, some versions of the Reformed construction may be in danger of flattening out the Bible’s storyline in such a way there is nothing new in the new covenant except increased information.” And, “In short, if one is focusing on God’s one redemptive plan, his one ultimate, saving sacrifice, his one assembly before the throne, his one covenant of grace (though there are some problems with that expression), and his one final purpose for the redeemed, the Reformed heritage, in my view, has it right. The church begins when the first human sinner is redeemed and joined with another redeemed human sinner—indeed, in the mind of God the church begins as far back as the death of the Lamb “who was slain from the creation of the world” (Rev 13:8). If one is focusing on the “new” (ratcheted up?) things connected with the people of God under the new covenant, I can understand why one looks for a term that applies to them and does not apply to OT saints. The problem, of course, is that a claim like “The church begins at Pentecost” might be uttered within the framework of the kind of nuances I’ve just outlined, but it might be heard to be saying far more things that rightly scandalize Reformed believers; conversely, a claim like “The church is the sum of God’s people under both the old covenant and the new” is perfectly defensible along the lines I’ve outlined here, but it might be heard to be claiming a flattening out of covenantal distinctions that ought to be preserved somehow.
6. Carson notes that Presbyterians have incentives tied to their view of circumcision and baptism to emphasize continuity, while Reformed Baptists lean toward more discontinuity because the new covenant community is made up of only the elect, which was not the case of the covenant community in the Old Testament.
7. Carson notes that it is difficult to pin down when exactly the Messianic kingdom began: at the ascension, on the cross, in Jesus’s public ministry, at his birth? Carson proposes that there is the same ambiguity regarding the beginning of the church.
6. I think more consideration needs to be given to this point, and I think it is unfortunate that in the development of this article that it comes so late. If the church in the new covenant is made up of only the regenerate (in reality and as much as possible in practice), then the new covenant church is different in nature from the assembly of the regenerate and unregenerate under the old covenant.
1. This influences how we understand the similar language applied to both. The same word can be applied to assemblies in both Testaments, but these assemblies are qualitatively different. The application of the same words to both does not, therefore, result in identifying the assemblies. I don’t see Acts 7:38 or Hebrews 2:12 providing counter evidence. Hebrews 12:22-24 could be stronger evidence. Carson notes that the mention of Abel highlights the presence of Old Testament saints in the “great cloud of witnesses.” However, this falls short of identifying the “great cloud of witnesses” with the assembly of the firstborn, which, notably, is here placed in a new covenant context. What is more, Hebrews 12 does not say this assembly is in heaven. It says that it is the assembly of those who are enrolled in heaven, which could be a reference to the elect who, though on earth, will be certain to gain heaven. In short, I think Hebrews 12:22-24 is the strongest passage for identifying an OT and NT church as one, but I’m not sure this is a necessary reading of that passage.
2. I’m not convinced that the olive tree in Romans 11 is the church. It seems better to me to understand the olive tree as the covenant promises made to the patriarchs. There are natural branches from the Abrahamic covenant that are cut off and wild branches that are grafted in to the promises to Abraham.
3. I think the argument that ἐκκλησία language is not always used technically is a strong one. This is particularly the case given that the assembly in the Old Testament is qualitatively different from the new covenant assembly. I would agree with the significance of the Old Testament assembly being made up of Jews (though, those prior to Abraham were not Jews) and the new covenant assembly being made up of both Jews and Gentiles. But I think the more significant difference is that the old covenant assembly was a mixed multitude of regenerate and unregenerate while the new covenant assembly is comprised of the regenerate alone. I think this argues against the new testament church simply being an expansion of the old. The two assemblies are qualitatively different because they are based on different covenants.
4. I think the affirmation of one people of God across both testaments helps ensure the unity that Carson rightly believes needs to be maintained, while the recognition that the church began at Pentecost ensures the recognition the “newness” that Carson rightly thinks needs to be recognized.
5. I’m not convinced that “if the focus is on the oneness and continuity of the redeemed people of God, all of them secured by the Lord Jesus, surely Scripture demands that we affirm pretty strongly the side of the covenant theologian.” I can affirm the oneness and continuity of the people of God while still affirming that the church is a new thing in the outworking of God’s plan just as I can affirm the oneness and continuity of the redeemed people and affirm that the new covenant is truly new in the outworking of God’s redemptive plan.
Ortlund, Gavin. “Conversion in C. S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength,” Themelios, 41, no. 1 (April 2016): 8-19.
I first read the Space Trilogy in junior high. I enjoyed Out of the Silent Planet as an adventure story with a bit of Narnia in its ethos. I recall that Perelandra took longer to get into, but once in I enjoyed both the temptation sequence and the defeat of the Un-man. That Hideous Strength was a different proposition. For one, I was expecting another space travel story. This meant that the first part of the book, which is about college politics, seemed to be an extraordinarily dull prelude to the action I was anticipating. In the end, the book never took one up into the heavens—though the heavens did come down to earth. It was not until subsequent readings in later years that I began to really enjoy That Hideous Strength. On one reading I noticed that Lewis was operating on several levels. Sunlight and foggy weather was revealing about how the characters were clear thinking or muddled. The entering or leaving by main doors or side doors were symbols of a person’s relation at Belbury or St. Anne’s. At one point I had read Lewis’s “The Inner Ring,” which lent significance to the college politics at the beginning, and another time I read it just after reading The Abolition of Man.
Gavin Ortlund opens up new insights in That Hideous Strength by contrasting the way that the two protagonists, Jane and Mark, are converted from separate errors—the fear of being taken in and the fear of being excluded from the inner ring, respectively. He also shows how these two errors inform Lewis’s social critique in That Hideous Strength. This is a reminder that, despite first impressions That Hideous Strength, is a book with some depth, a book worthy of re-readings.
Jacobs. Alan. The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.
Truly a pleasurable set of meditations .
Moberly, R. W. L. “Genesis 12:3a: A Biblical Basis for Christian Zionism.” In The Theology of the Book of Genesis. Old Testament Theology. Edited by Brent A. Strawn and Patrick D. Miller. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
In this essay Moberly rightly points out that some American Christians misuse this verse to claim that the United States receives some kind of automatic blessing from God for supporting the state of Israel militarily and diplomatically. Too often this claim is made in such a way that it prevents evaluation of actual Israeli policies and presumes that the blessing of God can be so obtained regardless of the other policy positions of the United States. Nonetheless, I found Moberly’s reaction to this misuse of Genesis 12:3 unhelpful as well. He suggests that though stated as an unconditional promise, this promise was indeed conditional (though due to anti-Semitism he draws back from saying that Israelites forfeited the promise due to disobedience). He then suggests that those who make this claim not exclude the descendants of Ishmael from the promise (though he notes the connection between Ishmael and the Arabs to be historically problematic). Yet the text of Genesis indicates that it is through Isaac, not Ishmael that the promises of Genesis 12:1-3 are carried on. He then suggests that the children of Abraham at least include Christians, so Christian applications of this verse should include Christians. I would have liked to see some argumentation that made the case that this is a promise that is extended to the Gentiles. In sum, I think Moberly has found a problematic use of Genesis 12:3a, but I found his solutions to also be problematic.
Moberly, R. W. L. “Genesis 22: Abraham—Model or Monster?” In The Theology of the Book of Genesis. Old Testament Theology. Edited by Brent A. Strawn and Patrick D. Miller. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Martin, Oren R. Bound for the Promised Land: The Land Promise in God’s Redemptive Plan, New Studies in Biblical Theology. Edited by D. A. Carson. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2015.
I agree with his premise that the land promise is rooted in the opening chapters of Genesis and finds its culmination in the new creation. But I disagree that this thesis is incompatible with the specific land promises being made to Israel being fulfilled for Israel. He leaves out the key theme of the nations in biblical theology and therefore does not factor them into to the culmination of the biblical storyline.
Gerhard, Johannes. On the Nature of Theology and on Scripture. Theological Commonplaces. Edited by T. G. Mayes. Translated by Richard J. Dinda. Saint Louis: Concordia, 2009.
This is a superb study of just what the title says by a seventeenth century Lutheran scholar. It is detailed and comprehensive in scope and orthodox in content, but it does not lose sight that God and the worship of God is the end of theology.
Billings, J. Todd. Union with Christ: Reframing Theology and Ministry. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011.
This is not so much a study of Union with Christ as an application of that that study to various areas of theology and practice. I found especially helpful his critiques of “incarnational ministry” and contextualization.” He also includes a helpful discussion that demonstrates that apartheid developed in South Africa not because of orthodox Reformed theology but in the departure from it in an effort to be missional and contextualize the church’s ministry. He quotes John de Gruchy: “Despite the fact that this development went against earlier synodical decisions that segregation in the church was contrary to the Word of God, it was rationalized on grounds of missiology and practical necessity. Missiologically it was argued that people were best evangelized and best worshipped God in their own language and cultural setting, a position reinforced by German Lutheran missiology and somewhat akin to the church-growth philosophy of our own time.”
Hess, Richard S. Israelite Religions: An Archaeological and Biblical Survey. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007.
A good survey of the relevant materials. From an roughly evangelical perspective, but it gave far too much ground to critical theories at various points.
Linblad, Stefan, “‘Eternally Begotten of the Father’: An Analysis of the Second London Confession of Faith’s Doctrine of the Eternal Generation of the Son.”
A Reformed Baptist defense of eternal generation and critique of eternal functional subordination.
Ryle, J. C. Five English Reformers. 1890; repr., Banner of Truth, 1960
Written during the tractarian controversy, in which a segment of Anglicans were moving in a Roman Catholic direction, Ryle looks the lives and deaths of five Anglicans—John Hooper, Rowland Taylor, Hugh Latimer, John Bradford, Nicholas Ridley—who were burned for their beliefs during the reign of Mary I. In an introductory chapter Ryle makes the case the early Anglican reformers were burned for opposing the doctrines that the Anglo-Catholics say the Anglican church ought to embrace. As with all of Ryle’s writings, it is clear, forceful, and hortatory.
Robertson, O. Palmer. The Flow of the Psalms. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2015.
Robertson makes the case that the Psalms were purposefully organized in five books that can be summarized Confrontation, Communication (with the nations); Devastation (of Jerusalem’s destruction and the exile); Maturation (in reflection on Yhwh’s kingship); and Consummation. The Psalms thus has a roughly redemptive-historical flow. Within each book the Psalms are structured in structural and thematic ways to facilitate their memorization.
I read the core of the book, one chapter a morning, skimming the book of the Psalms while reading that chapter. I’m currently working back through the core of the book one Psalm at a time, and referencing his treatment of each Psalm’s structural placement. Robertson’s proposed structure seems reasonable to me, though I would like to compare it with other proposals in the future.
Bolt, John. Bavinck on the Christian Life: Following Jesus in Faithful Service. Wheaton: Crossway, 2015.
John Bolt’s entry in this series is heavily theological as befits his subject matter. Included are excellent discussions of the image of God in man, union with Christ, imitation of Christ and more. Nevertheless these theological foundations really do lead to the practical, as one would expect from this series. Given the subject the Christian life in view is not the personal life only, though Bavinck values personal piety greatly. The Christian life in marriage, family, work, education, culture, and society are the focus of latter part of the book. Bolt does an admirable job of summarizing Bavinck’s thought in each of these areas. Bolt is no mere summarizer, however. He will comment on areas where he thinks Bavinck or his later followers went astray, or he will apply Bavinck’s thought to more recent issues. Bolt’s judgments in these sections are always valuable.
Warfield, Benjamin Breckinridge. “The Conviction of the Spirit.” Faith and Life. Mongergism, n.d.
Sermon on John 16:8-11.
Warfield, Benjamin Breckinridge. “The Outpouring of the Spirit.” Faith and Life. Mongergism, n.d.
Sermon on Acts 2:16-17. It contains an interesting discussion of the difference between the Spirit’s Old Testament and New Testament work. Warfield approaches this from a different angle that I’ve been wont to, but he handles all of the Biblical material. Worthy of further consideration.
Warfield, Benjamin Breckinridge. “The Spirit’s Testimony to Our Sonship” Faith and Life. Mongergism, n.d.
Sermon on Romans 8:16.
Warfield, Benjamin Breckinridge. “The Spirit’s Help in Our Praying.” Faith and Life. Mongergism, n.d.
Sermon on Romans 8:26-27.
Warfield, B. B. “On the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit.” In Benjamin B. Warfield: Selected Shorter Writings, ed. John E. Meeter (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1970).
Warfield, B. B. “The Spirit of God in the Old Testament.” In Benjamin B. Warfield: Selected Shorter Writings, ed. John E. Meeter (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1970).
Warfield, B. B. “The Spirit of God in the Old Testament,” Works 2:101-29.
Warfield, Benjamin Breckinridge. “The Spirit of Faith” Faith and Life. Mongergism, n.d.
Sermon on 2 Cor. 4:13.
Warfield, Benjamin Breckinridge. “Spiritual Strengthening” Faith and Life. Mongergism, n.d.
Sermon on Ephes. 3:14-19.
Warfield, Benjamin Breckinridge. “The Fullness of God” Faith and Life. Mongergism, n.d.
Sermon on Ephesians 3:14-19.
Warfield, Benjamin Breckinridge. “The Sealing of the Holy Spirit” Faith and Life. Mongergism, n.d.
Sermon on Ephesians 4:30.
B. B. Warfield, “Is the Shorter Catechism Worthwhile?” in Benjamin B. Warfield: Selected Shorter Writings, ed. John E. Meeter (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1970), 381.
Allison, Gregg R. Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church. Wheaton: Crossway, 2012.
As a moderately dispensational baptist who believes in congregational church polity with a plurality of elders, I was happy to see that Allison writes from the same point of view. This is not because I wanted to read something that confirmed my views. Rather, I wanted to read something that developed them.
Allison, while historically informed, is not merely bound to history in his development of this doctrine. For instance instead of defining the church by historical marks, he seeks the develop a definition that deals comprehensively with the biblical material:
The church is the people of God who have been saved through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and have been incorporated into his body through baptism with the Holy Spirit. It consists of two interrelated elements: the universal church is the fellowship of all Christians that extends from the day of Pentecost until the second coming, incorporating both the deceased believers who are presently in heaven and the living believers from all over the world. This universal church becomes manifested in local churches characterized by being doxological, logocentric, pneumadynamic, covenantal, confessional, missional, and spatio-temporal/eschatological. Local churches are led by pastors (also called elders) and served by deacons, possess and pursue purity and unity, exercise church deadline, develop strong connections with other churches, and celebrate the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Equipped by the Holy Spirit with spiritual gifts for ministry, these communities regularly gather to worship the triune God, proclaim his Word, engage non-Christians with the gospel, disciple their members, cart for people through prayer and giving, and stand both for and against the world. [pp. 29-30]
The remainder of the book is the unpacking of the definition.
Despite a few points of disagreement (e.g., on the advisability of multi-site churches), this is an excellent ecclesiology. I do think, however, that the other contributors to this serious should have been given the same 800+ page limit that Feinberg’s own volume received. To cover a doctrine comprehensively in 500 pages does mean that treatment is necessarily cursory.
Perkins, William. The Works of William Perkins. Volume 1. Edited by J. Stephen Yuille. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage, 2014.
Excellent, challenging writing on the Sermon on the Mount and the Temptations of Christ.
Carl F. H. Henry, “In and Out of the Gay World,” in Is Gay Good? Ethics, Theology, and Homosexuality. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1971.
Brief but on the mark.
Turner, Denys. Julian of Norwich, Theologian. New Haven: Yale University Press. 2011.
This is a very helpful introduction to the theological issues in Julian of Norwich’s writing.
Chisholm, Robert B. Jr.“Does God Deceive?,” Bibliotheca Sacra 155 (1998):
Classic Chisholm. Which means I’m uncomfortable with where he goes theologically.
Harris, Gregory H. “Does God Deceive? The “Deluding Influence” Of Second Thessalonians 2:11,” Master’s Seminary Journal 16, no. 1 (2005):
Richard L. Mayhue, “False Prophets and the Deceiving Spirit ” Master’s Seminary Journal 4, no. 2 (1993):
Regarding 1 Kings 22, Mayhue argues that the deceiving spirit is Satan.
Thornbury, Gregory Alan. Recovering Classic Evangelicalism: Applying the Wisdom and Vision of Carl F. H. Henry. Crossway, 2013.
I recall reading a section of Henry’s God, Revelation, and Authority for an assignment in Systematic Theology during my first semester of seminary. I found that section so helpful that I began to piece together a hardback set of God, Revelation, and Authority during my seminary years. Despite disagreements on apologetic method, ecclesial strategy, etc., I’ve found Henry very much worth reading.
Gregory Alan Thornbury is of the same mind, and yet finds Henry too neglected, and even misrepresented, by evangelicals at present. To remedy that situation he has written an excellent, readable introduction to the thought of Carl Henry as well as a defense of the value of that thought for evangelicalism at present.
Collins, C. John. The God of Miracles: An Exegetical Examination of God’s Action in the World. Crossway, 2000.
Collins defends a supernaturalist approach to miracles in distinction from providentialist and occasionalist models and in the face of rationalist, empiricist, postmodern and other objections. Though slim, the book moves from exegesis to philosophy. The final chapter applies his conclusions to debate around Intelligent Design. A helpful, well-argued survey.
Robert, Russ. How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness. New York: Penguin, 2014.
A readable introduction to Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments, which is a better moral philosophy than postmodern romanticism and has some hold-overs of Christian thought built in—but which, in the end, leaves the Father, Son, and Spirit out of its considerations.
Flavel, John. Triumphing over Sinful Fear. Puritan Treasures for Today. Edited by J. Stephen Yuille. 1682; Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage, 2011.
An excellent little book which distinguishes types of fear and then helps Christians diagnose and remedy sinful fear.
Berkouwer, G. C. “Providence and Miracles.” In The Providence of God. Translated by Lewis B. Smedes. Grand Rapids: Eedmans, 1952.
C. John Collins identifies Berkouwer’s position as occasionalist, that is, there is no natural law that results in causality taking place in this world. For instance, one billiard ball does not cause another to move by striking it; rather, the striking of one billiard ball by another is the occasion for God causing the movement. I don’t see that this is Berkouwer’s position. This statement by Collins better represents Berkouwer’s position: “laws of nature are not alternatives to divine activity but only our codification of that activity in its normal manifestation, and a miracle means nothing more than that God at a given moment will a certain thing to occur differently than it had up to that moment been willed by him to occur” (Collins, God of Miracles, 21). But by this I don’t think Berkouwer is denying the existence of the natural law. His point is that what is natural is laid down by God’s will. It is not a closed system that God must violate for a miracle to take place. In relation to this, Berkouwer’s point is that the emphasis in the Bible is not on whether natural law has been violated or not but on the fact that God has acted in a marvelous and wonderful way (which is not to say that Berkouwer is denying that miracles which depart from natural law happen).
Strange, Daniel. Their Rock Is Not Like Our Rock: A Theology of Religions. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014.
Strange draws on the thought of Cornelius Van Til, J. H. Bavinck, Hendrick Kraemer and others such as Vos to formulate the framework for a theology of religions. He lays the foundations for his theology in the Creator-creature distinction and the imago Dei. The point is that the unbeliever is a complex individual, greatly affected by the Fall (hence the antithesis) but still made in God’s image and with their sin restrained by common grace.
Strange then turns to how fallen man developed religions. Strange argues in favor of an original monotheism and an “remnantal revelation” that remained in various religious traditions, explaining the “commonalities” between them. Though not dogmatic regarding elements of the exegesis, Strange argues that Babel marks the beginning of false religions in the post-flood world. The dividing of peoples leads to the diversity of religion, while shared memory of remnantal revelation accounts for similarities. He further suggests demonic involvement in the development of religions after Babel.
Strange then looks at the Old Testament’s view of other religions. He takes idolatry as the Old Testament’s basic category, and he critiques recent attempts to argue that early in the Old Testament there is a greater acceptance of false religion than later. In his treatment of the New Testament, Strange examines the New Testament’s teaching on the uniqueness of Christ, and the necessity of faith in Christ for salvation. He rejects the claim that God’s overlooking sin in the times of ignorance involves a permission for idolatrous religion prior to Christ (and, according to some, at present where Christ has not yet been proclaimed). He also exegetes Romans 1:18-25 to establish the clarity of general revelation and its suppression by idolaters.
With the preceding as a foundation, Strange argues that the gospel brings about the “subversive fulfilment’ of other religions. The word “subversive” is important for this thesis. He rejects Gerald McDermott’s argument that there can be a fulfillment of continuity with regard to false religion. He presses hard on the fact of the antithesis: since religions are systems there is no truth at all in false religions because whatever might be identified as true is part of a larger false system. And yet, because of the image of God in man, the influence of remnantal revelation, and the influence of Christianity, there is a “pseudo-similarity” and “counterfeiting of true divine revelation” in false religions. The gospel subverts the what is false and shows the true fulfillment of what was being counterfeited.
In the closing chapters Strange looks at the missiological and pastoral implications of his study.
Strange is clear that this book is an outline for a theology of religions. He calls for others to follow behind and fill in the outline or to apply it to specific religions.
Henry, Carl F. H. God, Revelation, and Authority. Volume 3. Waco, TX: Word, 1979.
The volume examines the incarnation, Christ as Logos, and an excellent defense of propositional revelation.
Boston, Thomas. Human Nature in Its Fourfold State. New York: Evert Duyckinck, 1811.
The fourfold state of the title is man in paradise, as fallen, as regenerate, and in the future state. In examining man in these four states, Boston provides a full systematic theology. The tone, however, is not academic (though the content is rigorous) but hortatory.
Gregory of Nyssa, On the Making of Man.
This book includes some excellent material on the image of God in man, the creation blessing, and the distinction of man from animals. However, is efforts to argue that humans would have reproduced asexually if they had not fallen is a casebook example of allowing one’s cultural situation drive one’s interpretation.
Horton, Michael. Covenant and Eschatology: The Divine Drama. Louisville: WJK, 2002.
This is a theological and hermeneutical prologomena that argues for the importance of redemptive-history and the concept of covenant for a proper theological and hermeneutical method. Interacts with philosophy both ancient and modern. One of Horton’s points is that orthodox theology of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, along with developments that remained faithful to such theology, such as Geerhardus Vos, have a contribution to make to contemporary theological and hermeneutical discussions.
Althusius, Johannes. On Law and Power. Translated by Jeffrey J. Veenstra. Edited by Stephen J. Grabill and John Witte, Jr. Christian’s Library Press, 2013.
The introductions provide a good overview of Althusius and his contribution to a Reformed view of natural and civil law.
Vanhoozer, Kevin J. “Interpreting Scripture between the Rock of Biblical Studies and the Hard Place of Systematic Theology: The State of the Evangelical (dis)Union.” In Renewing the Evangelical Mission. Edited by Richard Lints. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013.
An essay that explores how biblical studies and systematic theology became separated, the negative effects of that separation, and how what has been torn asunder can be reunited.
McCormack, Bruce L. “The Barth Renaissance in America.” In Orthodox and Modern: Studies in the Theology of Karl Barth. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008.
Interestingly, part of his reason is that there is an interest in the perceived stability of the Orthodox and Roman churches on the part of Protestants, and Barth can provide that connection with the past for without actually being dogmatic since revelation for Barth is always only a witness, making all theology open-ended.
Pennington, Jonathan T. “A Biblical Theology of Human Flourishing.” Paper delivered at Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics, 2015.
In this paper Pennington examines the history of the idea of human flourishing and then traces the Bible’s teaching on the sibject by looking at the key words shalom, eirene, ashre, makarios, tamim, and telios. He makes the case that human flourishing comes from life that is rightly oriented to and fully devoted to God.
On the exegetical level, one of the interesting arguments he makes is for a distinction between barak and ashre (and between eulogetos and makarios):
Like bārak, ʾashrê is often used with the same recipients as the bārak word: to describe descendants, fields and flocks, and security from enemies. This helps us see the organic relationship between bārak and ashre, namely that “receipt of that which blessing [bārak] has to bestow qualifies a person or group to be called ʾǎshrê.” But, very importantly, this does not mean the two words are synonymous nor should they be glossed the same way. That is, there is a basic and significant distinction maintained between the blessing, which is an active word and whose subject is typically God, and the state of those who receive this blessing or flourishing, described as the ʾashrê person.”
Bauckham, Richard. “Biblical Theology and the Problems of Monotheism.” In Out of Egypt: Biblical Theology and Biblical Interpretation. Edited by Craig Bartholomew et al. Scripture and Hermeneutics Series. Edited by Craig Bartholomew and Anthony C. Thiselton. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004.
Looks at the concept of monotheism from a biblical, history of religions, and Enlightenment viewpoints. Critiques proposals made by other scholars in all three realms.
Pink, A. W. Profiting from the Word. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1970.
This is not a book about how to study the Bible. This is a book about the goals, the mindset, and desires to have when studying the Bible. Worth multiple re-readings.