Book Reviews

Review of Introduction to Christian Liturgy by Frank C. Senn

Senn, Frank C. Introduction to Christian Liturgy. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2012, pp. 244, $29, paperback. One of the foremost contemporary liturgical theologians, Frank Senn is a retired Lutheran pastor, who continues his vocation as a scholar and author. A past president of both the Liturgical Conference and the North American Academy of Liturgy, Senn earned a PhD in Liturgical Studies from the University of Notre Dame and has taught in various capacities at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, the University of Chicago, and Trinity Theological College in Singapore, among others. His works include Christian Liturgy: Catholic and Evangelical (1997), a comparative and ecumenical study of Christian liturgy with a special focus on the Reformation; Christian Worship and Its Cultural Setting (2004), an anthropological analysis of Christian worship; and The People’s Work: A Social History of the Liturgy (2006). The title of the current work, Introduction to Christian Liturgy, is perhaps too basic to reveal its true contents. For a book intended as an introduction, Senn manages to be remarkably comprehensive in a few pages, covering the historical development of Christian liturgy—its pastoral aspects, history, and culture; the order of worship, calendrical cycle, lectionary use, and sacramental practice;…

Review of Agape Ethics: Moral Realism and Love for All Life by William Greenway
Book Reviews , Ethics , Featured / December 8, 2017

Greenway, William. Agape Ethics: Moral Realism and Love for All Life. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2016, pp. 147, $21, paperback. William Greenway is Professor of Philosophical Theology at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and author of The Challenge of Evil: Grace and the Problem of Suffering (Westminster John Knox, 2016), For the Love of All Creatures: The Story of Grace in Genesis (Eerdmans, 2015) and A Reasonable Belief: Why God and Faith Make Sense (Westminster John Knox, 2015). Summary: William Greenway’s Agape Ethics: Moral Realism and Love for All Life sets out to convince readers of an internal, primordial, universal morality, based primarily on the thought of philosopher Emmanuel Levinas concerning the concepts of “awakening” and being seized by the faces of others. The book contains an Introduction and 11 chapters organized into four Parts: (1) Awakening and Agape; (2) Science, Scientism, Morality; (3) Beyond Objectivity, Relativism, and Extremism: Moral Realism, Ethical Surety, and the Sanctity of Life; and (4) Perfect Love in an Imperfect World: Agape Ethics. A bibliography is included, but no Index. Greenway’s main concern is inspiring a “spiritual awakening to agape,” longing to “reawaken a lost sense of spiritual belonging in this world, to retrieve a lost…

Review of Saving Calvinism: Expanding the Reformed Tradition by Oliver D. Crisp
Book Reviews , Featured , Theology / December 6, 2017

Oliver D. Crisp, Saving Calvinism: Expanding the Reformed Tradition. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2016. pp. 167. $18.00, paperback. As someone who has written a couple of books critiquing Calvinism, I must say I was intrigued, and somewhat amused by the title of this book. Why, I wondered, would a leading Reformed theologian think Calvinism needed to be saved, and from what? The answer, it turns out, is that Calvinism may need to be saved from some of its most zealous proponents. These zealous proponents, who have led a remarkable resurgence of Calvinism during the past few decades, have claimed the mantle of the great Reformer for those who subscribe to the clearly defined set of doctrines famously summarized in the Tulip acronym. This is particularly true of those devotees of Calvin that have been dubbed “the young, the restless, the Reformed,” who, enthusiastic though they are, may suffer from “a kind of theological amnesia” (p. 12). Reflecting on the future of the movement, Crisp even goes so far as to say: “In one respect, if the name Calvinism were dropped tomorrow, and no one spoke of Calvinism again, it would be a blessing. Calvin would be turning in his…

Review of Contours of the Kuyperian Tradition: A Systematic Introduction by Craig G. Bartholomew

Bartholomew, Craig G. Contours of the Kuyperian Tradition: A Systematic Introduction. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2017, pp. 363, $40.00, hardback. In the United States, theologically conservative Christianity seems to stand at the edge of a major shift in political theology. The so-called Judeo-Christian consensus for public theology and ethics have eroded. Around the world, the epistemological foundations that have generally been assumed are frequently challenged. Especially in the United States, the culture is rebalancing toward a totalizing view of economics and politics. Since the vast majority of the Christian tradition of writing on cultural engagement occurred in situations of relative dominance of Christian consensus, there are too few examples of effective engagement in a pluralistic context. Among the limited list of positive examples Lesslie Newbigin, Francis Schaeffer, and Abraham Kuyper are near the top. Unfortunately, until recently, only a limited amount of material in the early Kuyperian tradition has been available in English. That is quickly changing, which makes Craig Bartholomew’s recent book, Contours of the Kuyperian Tradition, a timely and valuable volume. Bartholomew sets the table for the book in his introduction, where he outlines the basic Kuyperian program, which entails seeking the welfare of the city. The…