Book Reviews

Review of Creation Care: A Biblical Theology of the Natural World by Douglas J. Moo and Jonathan A. Moo

Moo, Douglas J., and Jonathan A. Moo. 2018. Creation Care : A Biblical Theology of the Natural World. Biblical Theology for Life. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan., pp. 250, $18.46, paperback. Douglas J. Moo holds a Ph.D. from the University of St. Andrews and teaches New Testament at Wheaton College. He is a respected New Testament scholar with over a dozen commentaries and works, mostly in the epistles.  Jonathan Moo holds his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, teaches New Testament and environmental studies at Whitworth University in Spokane, WA, holds a graduate degree in wildlife ecology, and has published extensively on Christianity’s understanding of nature. The book is aptly titled as it pursues a theology of creation that considers humankind’s relationship and duty to it. This is the fifth installment in the reputable Biblical Theology for Life series. This volume is divided into three major sections: “Queuing the Questions,” “Arriving At Answers,” and “Reflecting on Relevance.” Chapters 1-2 begin by positing the question, “What role does non-human creation play in God’s plan?” (p. 23). The authors set out to prove that creation plays a significant role in God’s eternal plans. They thus eschew the labels “nature” and “environmentalism” in favor of…

Review of Light in a Dark Place: The Doctrine of Scripture by John S. Feinberg
Book Reviews , Featured , Theology / October 16, 2018

Feinberg, John S. Light in a Dark Place: The Doctrine of Scripture. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018, pp. 799, $50, hardback. In Light in a Dark Place, John S. Feinberg (professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) offers a comprehensive, evangelical treatment of the doctrine of Scripture. Feinberg was one of the original signatories of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy in 1978. He is the general editor of Crossway’s Foundations of Evangelical Theology series, to which the present volume is the most recent contribution. The book consists of four parts and twenty chapters. The title of each chapter (apart from the introduction) refers to Feinberg’s chosen metaphor of “light”. This recurring motif reflects the author’s conviction that the Bible is inscripturated divine “revelation light” for the sake of a dark world (p. 24). Part One on “Creating Scripture” treats the doctrines of revelation (general and special) and inspiration. Part Two on “Characteristics of Scripture” covers inerrancy and authority. Part Three (“Setting the Boundaries”) is about canon. Part Four on “The Usefulness of Scripture” has chapters on illumination, perspicuity, animation, sufficiency and preservation. A concluding chapter takes the form of the author’s testimony. Feinberg’s aim is that his…

Review of A Treatise on Jonathan Edwards, Continuous Creation and Christology by S. Mark Hamilton
Book Reviews , Church History , Featured , Theology / October 4, 2018

Hamilton, S. Mark. A Treatise on Jonathan Edwards: Continuous Creation and Christology, A Series of Treatises on Jonathan Edwards, vol. 1. N.P.: JESociety Press, 2017, pp. 101, $17.99, paperback. The work under consideration is the first in a series devoted entirely to the publication of “assessable and in-depth treatments of Edwards-specific subject matter” (unpaginated series introduction). As the title suggests, this volume is a philosophical and theological examination of a nexus of metaphysical positions found across Jonathan Edwards’s oeuvre. In engaging Edwards’s philosophical theology, the author—S. Mark Hamilton—follows a trajectory set by his previous essays (e.g., S. Mark Hamilton, “Jonathan Edwards, Hypostasis, Impeccability, and Immaterialism,” Neue Zeitschrift für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie 58:2 [June 2016]: 1-23). The main agenda of this brief treatise, therefore, is to philosophically clarify Edwards’s overarching commitments to idealism, continuous creation, and occasional causation (chs. 1-3), and then apply these clarifications to Edwards’s Christology (chs. 4-5). Along the way, Hamilton dissents from and revises several prominent interpretations of Edwards’s philosophical theology, most notably from the individual writing the foreword to the book—Oliver Crisp. The first half of the treatise charts out Hamilton’s revisionary account of Edwards’s philosophical theology; for Hamilton, these revisions are not only the…

Review of Singleness and the Church: A New Theology of the Single Life by Jana Marguerite Bennett

Bennett, Jana Marguerite. Singleness and the Church: A New Theology of the Single Life. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017. Pp. 272, $29.95, hardback. In this fresh reflection on singleness, theological ethicist, Jana M. Bennett, provides both a strong critique and hopeful corrective of American relationship culture. She writes as a Catholic scholar yet engages the American Protestant context just as insightfully—identifying the ways the church has often mirrored negative cultural narratives about singleness. The overall goal of this book is to magnify relational experiences often overlooked by the modern Christian community, specifically those in impermanent single states, and to acknowledge the ways these persons may uniquely witness to Christ and the church. Simultaneously, she encourages ways the church can be more of a witness to this community. To begin, she proposes that one of the main problems facing current conceptions of singleness is the tacit assumption that to be single is to be lonely. She calls upon the Christian tradition which affirms both marriage and singleness for what it means to be the church, and that being lonely is neither specific nor necessary to singleness. Here, she also sets up the structure of the remainder of the book, which will…

Review of New Models of Religious Understanding edited by Fiona Ellis
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / July 9, 2018

Ellis, Fiona, ed. New Models of Religious Understanding. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 256, £55, hardback. Emerging out of research conducted by the Centre for the Philosophy of Religion in Heythrop College, London, New Models of Religious Understanding (ed. Fiona Ellis) offers reflections on a refreshing new approach to the philosophy of religion. Attempting to build bridges between the analytic and continental traditions, the contributors to this volume present a method of doing philosophy of religion which moves away from ontological and metaphysical questions about the existence and nature of God. This new approach is concerned with religious practice more than belief, the kinds of knowledge and understanding that are valuable in religious discourse, and the ways in which religious or spiritual realities might become accessible only to those who enquire after them in the right way. Religious understanding is not a matter of what we know, but of what we do, how we do it, and how what we do opens up new facets or aspects of reality to us. Despite containing contributions from eleven different authors, the book has a remarkable consistency of approach throughout; Fiona Ellis identifies two key themes in her introduction. First, the contributors…

Review of Kingdom Through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants by Gentry and Wellum

Gentry, Peter J. and Stephen J. Wellum. Kingdom Through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2012, pp. 848, $45.00, hardback. Peter J. Gentry serves as Donald L. Williams Professor of Old Testament Interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and as Director of the Hexapla Institute. Stephen J. Wellum serves as Professor of Christian Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and as Editor of The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. In Kingdom Through Covenant, Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum establish a biblical and systematic theology designed to “show how central the concept of ‘covenant’ is to the narrative plot structure of the Bible, and secondly, how a number of crucial theological differences within Christian theology, and the resolution of those differences, are directly tied to one’s understanding of how the biblical covenants unfold and relate to each other” (p.21). In effect, they contend that to know the covenants rightly is to know the Scriptures rightly (pp. 139, 603, 611). As such, they examine each OT covenant so as “to speak on its own terms” (p. 113) by aligning interpretation to 1) its immediate textual context, especially emphasizing a historical-grammatical hermeneutic of a covenantal…

Review of Maximal God: A New Defence of Perfect Being Theism by Yujin Nagasawa
Book Reviews , Theology / June 28, 2018

Nagasawa, Yujin. Maximal God: A New Defence of Perfect Being Theism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, pp. 256, $60. Yujin Nagasawa is a professor of philosophy at the University of Birmingham, and the co-director of the John Hick Centre for the Philosophy of Religion. He has published books on phenomenal consciousness, miracles, and the existence of God. In Maximal God, Nagasawa examines the claim that God is a perfect being, and the role this plays in developing the ontological argument for the existence of God. Maximal God is comprised of 7 chapters. Chapter 1 considers the conceptual, historical, and cognitive roots of perfect being theism. According to Nagasawa, perfect being theism affirms that God is the greatest metaphysically possible being. This entails that God is value commensurate with all other possible beings. In other words, the greatness of God can be compared with the greatness of all other possible beings such as humans, aardvarks, and escalators. As Nagasawa notes, most philosophers and theologians assume that perfect being theism entails The Omni God Thesis. The Omni God Thesis says that God is an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent being. Throughout Maximal God, it is Nagasawa’s contention that perfect being theism does not need…

Review of Evolution and the Fall edited by William T. Cavanaugh and James K. A. Smith

Cavanaugh, William T. and James K. A. Smith, eds. Evolution and the Fall. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2017, pp. 261, $26, paperback. A wide spectrum of twentieth century theology was marked by a revision of the doctrine of the origins of sin. In most cases, concern about evolutionary science, and especially the science of human origins, was a powerful motivation. The origins of sin were recast in various forms—either as mythopoetic, metaphysically inevitable, or the consequence of a certain sort of freedom—in a way that led the doctrine away from the problems posed by evolution, but also led it away from important traditional claims, for example, that all humans became sinners by the voluntary act of the first two human beings. Because of these novelties, or because of their perceived consequences, many evangelicals and other traditionally-minded theologians declined to follow many of the great twentieth century thinkers down this path. Yet the problems that prompted the revision of the doctrine have, if anything, grown in recent decades. There is thus a renewed urgency, but also a renewed spirit of openness from traditionally-minded thinkers for reconsidering if, and if so, how, to think of the Fall in light of evolution. As…

Review of Metaphysics and the Tri-Personal God by William Hasker
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / May 24, 2018

William Hasker, Metaphysics and the Tri-Personal God. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, pp. 269, £25.00, paperback. In this impressive study William Hasker, the Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Huntington University, takes on the task of analysing the trinitarian three-in-one problem. That is, how we should understand the theological statement that “God is three persons in one being.” Hasker seeks to establish, first, the foundations of the doctrine of the Trinity and, second, articulate and defend social trinitarianism (ST). Previous philosophical interactions with central Christian doctrines have often been accused of lacking historical and contextual awareness. It is Hasker’s goal to show that this picture is mistaken, and to demonstrate how the emerging field of analytic theology is not only philosophically rigorous, but that it carefully considers the witness of Scripture and the importance of Church history. The book is structured into three sections. The first section outlines the presuppositions for Hasker’s analytical endeavour. As Hasker remarks, it is difficult to attribute the label “social trinitarianism” to any ancient thinker, given that the ontological model for ST grew out of modern categories – especially with regards to philosophy, psychology, and sociology (p. 24). Nevertheless, Hasker—equipped with Plantinga’s definition of Persons as…

Review of All that is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism by James E. Dolezal
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / February 8, 2018

James E. Dolezal, All That Is In God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2017, pp162, $18. James E. Dolezal is an assistant professor at Cairn University’s school of divinity. He has previously published on the doctrine of divine simplicity. In his new book, All That Is In God (ATIIG), Dolezal offers a concise defense of classical theism. On classical Christian theism, the triune God is a necessarily existent being who is simple, immutable, impassible, and timeless. ATIIG contains seven chapters that take the reader through these classical attributes and the doctrine of the Trinity. ATIIG also offers a critique of contemporary evangelical attempts to modify or reject the classical understanding of God. Various contemporary evangelical theologians and philosophers have rejected this understanding of God in favor of a God who enters into a genuine give-and-take relationship with creation. Dolezal labels such thinkers “theistic mutualists.” Dolezal notes that theistic mutualism comes in a variety of forms such as process theism and open theism, but his main target in ATIIG tends to be Calvinists and social trinitarians. It is worth noting that the term “theistic mutualism” is a neologism of Dolezal’s own making….