Theology

Review of The Story of Creeds and Confessions: Tracing the Development of the Christian Faith by Fairbairn and Reeves
Theology / February 7, 2020

Fairbairn, Donald and Ryan M. Reeves. The Story of Creeds and Confessions: Tracing the Development of the Christian Faith. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019. xi+396pp. Pb $34.99. The creeds and confessions of the Christian Church remain fundamental benchmarks of the faith that have survived the test of time and will continue to guide theological developments in the future. As this book reminds us, there is a lot of history behind the formation of these key texts, and not all of it has been pleasant. Controversies have flared up and sometimes led to unfortunate consequences that still defy resolution. However, the ecumenical spirit of our age has allowed us to re-examine this past more objectively than was once the case and to recognize that differences that once led to division may have been due to misunderstandings and/or extraneous factors that are no longer relevant. In weaving their way through these complexities, the authors of this book have done a magnificent job of condensing their material in a way that makes it digestible for the beginning student without cutting corners or being unfair to positions with which they might disagree. Every Christian, of whatever background, will be able to use this…

Review of Atonement by Eleonore Stump
Book Reviews , Theology / February 5, 2020

Stump, Eleonore. Atonement. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019, pp. 560, $80.00, hardback. Eleonore Stump is the Robert J. Henle Professor of Philosophy at Saint Louis University and an Honorary Professor at the Logos Institute for Analytic and Exegetical Theology. Stump has authored or edited a number of works on Medieval philosophy and theology. Her Gifford Lectures, titled, “Wandering in Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering” was published by Oxford University Press. In Atonement, Stump sets out to put forth a new account of the doctrine of atonement. To get to her account of atonement, Stump wanders through the darkness (or light?) of a number of theories of atonement, psychological literature on shame and guilt, medieval accounts of the will, and contemporary neuroscience. Eventually she dubs her account, “the Marian interpretation” of atonement, after any of the number of Marys in the Bible (p. 378). What exactly is this “Marian account” of atonement? First, I should mention that her understanding of “atonement” avoids “narrow” understandings of atonement that equate atonement with removing guilt by means of Christ’s crucifixion and death. Instead, Stump opts for a broader understanding of atonement, one that takes seriously the etymology of the word—”at-one-ment”—and uses the…

Review of Four Ministries, One Jesus: Exploring Your Vocation with the Four Gospels by Richard A. Burridge

Burridge, Richard A. Four Ministries, One Jesus: Exploring Your Vocation with the Four Gospels. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2019, pp 242, $17.09, paperback. Rev. Professor Richard A. Burridge is the Dean of King’s College London where he serves as a professor of biblical interpretation. In 2013 he became the first non-Catholic to receive the prestigious Ratzinger Prize. Burridge is a member of the General Synod of the Church of England and served on the Evaluation Committee for ordination and theological education. Four Ministries, One Jesus examines the somewhat mysterious “call” of those entering into vocational ministry. Though designed with the Anglican context in mind, Burridge addresses all faith traditions in his engaging and articulate manner. The introduction to Four Ministries, One Jesus clarifies that this edition began as a collection of addresses given at an ordination retreat for the Diocese of Peterborough in England and serves as the foundational context for the instructions given by Burridge. The author divides the gospels into four categories of ministry: the teaching ministry of Christ in Matthew, the pastoral care of Christ in Luke, the suffering servant in Mark, and the divine spiritual life of Christ in John. Each chapter includes a perspective on…

Review of Divine Scripture in Human Understanding: A Systematic Theology of The Christian Bible by Joseph K. Gordon
Book Reviews , Theology / January 31, 2020

Gordon, Joseph K. Divine Scripture in Human Understanding: A Systematic Theology of the Christian Bible. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2019, 458, $65.00, hardcover. Joseph Gordon is associate professor of theology at Johnson University in Kissimmee, Florida. Divine Scripture in Human Understanding is a revised version of his doctoral dissertation at Marquette University under Robert Doran who specializes in the theology of Bernard Lonergan. Gordon’s work proceeds in six chapters. He begins by introducing the overall framework and thesis. His goal is to provide “a constructive systematic account of the nature and purpose of Christian Scripture that articulates the intelligibility of Scripture and locates it within the work of the Triune God in history and within human cultural history” (p. 8). Chapter 2 works from the premise that the varied perspectives of the scriptural books and their “pervasive interpretive plurality” requires Scripture alone to be an insufficient tool for comprehensively understanding the Christian faith (p. 34). In other words, it is not that Scripture itself is lacking but that humans require multiple “horizons” of interpretive action to obtain the meaning of the text. They cannot glean all that the Bible means by reading the Bible in isolation. Recognizing…

Review of Trinity without Hierarchy: Reclaiming Nicene Orthodoxy in Evangelical Theology Edited by Bird and Harrower
Book Reviews , Theology / January 29, 2020

Bird, Michael F., and Scott Harrower, eds. Trinity without Hierarchy: Reclaiming Nicene Orthodoxy in Evangelical Theology. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2019, pp. 344 $25.99, paperback.  The sixteen essays of Trinity without Hierarchy (subsequently, TwH) together argue that conceptualizing the Trinity in terms of eternal relations of authority and submission (hereafter, ERAS) conflicts with the “the apostolic and evangelical faith” (p. 21). TwH’s editors Michael F. Bird and Scott Harrower lecture at Ridley College in Melbourne. Bird has defended ERAS previously, but he now argues that this approach (popularized by Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware) is “analogical to a semi-Arian subordinationism” (pp. 9-12, 10). Harrower published Trinitarian Self and Salvation in 2012 and God of All Comfort (2019), both exploring Trinitarian theology. TwH largely responds to the 2015 monograph edited by Ware and John Starke, One God in Three Persons. TwH presents ERAS as implicitly subordinating the Son’s glory in teaching that he eternally submits and that this grounds creational hierarchies (pp. 10-11). TwH provides biblical, historical, and systematic analysis to counter ERAS’s hermeneutics and theological conclusions. According to TwH, ERAS errantly interprets Scripture’s Trinitarian economy. Amy Peeler (pp. 57-83) exemplifies the book’s hermeneutical case with her biblically focused argument: “Hebrews does not demand [the ERAS] interpretation” (p. 68). Both John Owen, according to…

Review of Necessary Existence by Alexander R. Pruss and Joshua L. Rasmussen
Book Reviews , Philosophy / January 27, 2020

Pruss, Alexander R. and Joshua L. Rasmussen. Necessary Existence. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 223, $64, hardback. In Necessary Existence, Joshua Rasmussen (Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Azusa Pacific University) and Alexander Pruss (Professor of Philosophy, Baylor University) aim to defend the coherence and plausibility of the existence of a concrete being that exists of necessity, that is, a being that cannot fail to exist that can stand in causal relations (call this being “CNB” for short). While many of the ideas in the book have their origin in a series of previously published journal articles by Rasmussen, there is a great deal of new material in the book that will be of interest to those working in metaphysics and philosophical theology. The book is composed of nine densely packed chapters, each chock-full of rigorous, careful, and even-handed philosophical argumentation. A short review like this cannot possibly do justice to the clarity, creativity, and force of the philosophical arguments crafted in the book. Philosophical arguments in support of a CNB have played an important role in the history of Western philosophy, specifically as it pertains to arguments for theism. Such arguments commonly appeal to some aspect of contingent existence (events, facts,…

Review of Invitation to the Septuagint Second Edition by Karen H. Jobes and Moises Silva
Book Reviews , Old Testament / January 24, 2020

Jobes, Karen H. and Silva, Moisés. Invitation to the Septuagint, 2nd ed. Baker: Grand Rapids, 2015, pp. xxi + 408, $38.00, paperback. Jobes and Silva’s Invitation to the Septuagint is a thorough and readable introduction to the field of Septuagint studies. Jobes served as professor emerita at Wheaton College and has written extensively on topics related to the Septuagint and the New Testament while Silva has taught at several academic institutions and served as a past president of ETS. He has written extensively in the areas of hermeneutics. Because of the areas of expertise represented by Jobes and Silva, the reader should rightly approach Invitation to the Septuagint with high expectations. The book is divided into three main sections followed by several extremely helpful appendices and indices. The book begins with a short introduction. The introduction briefly and concisely explains the importance of Septuagint studies and how it relates to the OT and NT (1-9). The bulk of the book is divided into three sections. Part 1 is a discussion of the history of the Septuagint (chaps. 1-4). Here, the authors introduce the reader to the field. They discuss relevant terms in chapter 1 and introduce the reader to the historical…

Review of My Story of Overcoming Anxiety and the Practices that Brought Peace by J. P. Moreland

Moreland, J. P. Finding Quiet: My Story of Overcoming Anxiety and the Practices that Brought Peace. Grand Rapids, Mi: Zondervan, 2019, pp. 220.    J. P. Moreland is distinguished professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology and director of Eidos Christian Center. With degrees in philosophy, theology and chemistry, Dr. Moreland has taught theology and philosophy at several schools throughout the United States. The author has numerous books, he has also served with Campus Crusade, planted two churches, and spoken at hundreds of college campuses and churches. Dr. Moreland has been recognized by The Best Schools as one of the 50 most influential living philosophers in the world (back cover). Finding Quiet (FQ) is an autobiographical testimony by Dr. Moreland about the trials and victories he has had over clinical depression which lasted for decades in his life. He writes in the Preface “The book you hold in your hands is an honest revelation of my own struggles with anxiety and depression, along with a selection of the significant spiritual, physical, and psychological ideas and practices that have helped me most. I am not a licensed therapist, and this book is not meant to be a substitute for professional or…

Review of Leadership in Christian Perspective: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Practices for Servant Leadership by Irving and Strauss

Irving, Justin A. and Strauss, Mark L. Leadership in Christian Perspective: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Practices for Servant Leadership. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019, pp.218, $22.99, pb. Leadership books set themselves to a series of common tasks—they promise to encourage, inspire, equip, and motivate leaders and organizations to greater effectiveness and increased success. Typically, the warrant for such a book is the success and effectiveness of its author, a highly qualified exemplar whose personal use of the methods testifies to its implicit worth. Irving and Strauss, in their 2019 volume Leadership in Christian Perspective: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Practices for Servant Leaders, are not those kinds of figures. Instead, what they have done is bring together biblical commentary (from Strauss), together with a broad summary of insights from research into leadership models (from Irving), in a topic by topic survey of what they consider to be the key qualities of ‘servant leadership.’ The result is a competent if forgettable book on ‘Christian’ leadership. The governing idea for Irving and Straus’s book is that “the most effective approaches to leadership move leaders from a focus on follower control to a focus on follower empowerment” (p. 12). Toward this goal they…

Review of The Greek of the Pentateuch: Grinfield Lectures on the Septuagint 2011-2012 by John A Lee
Book Reviews , Old Testament / January 15, 2020

Lee, John A. The Greek of the Pentateuch: Grinfield Lectures on the Septuagint 2011–2012. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 384, $99, hardback. John A. Lee is Senior Research Fellow at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, where he taught Greek for 27 years. His recently published The Greek of the Pentateuch: Grinfield Lectures on the Septuagint 2011–2012 is an expansion of his 1983 revised dissertation A Lexical Study of the Septuagint Version of the Pentateuch (Chico, CA: Scholars, 1983). Whereas his revised dissertation sought to demonstrate the lexical correspondences between Pentateuchal Greek and koine in general, The Greek of the Pentateuch seeks to demonstrate from the Pentateuch itself that the linguistic “instrument the translators deploy is fundamentally Greek” (p. 2). In other words, Lee makes a case for why and how we can know that the translators of the Pentateuch primarily utilized the language of their time. To support his thesis, Lee relies heavily on ancient classical Greek literature, third-century BCE papyri, and even modern Greek—all of which he presents countless examples. Seven chapters and eight lengthy appendices make up Lee’s book. Chapter 1 provides “illustrations of the important ‘evidence’ in studying the Greek of the LXX” (p. 39), which…