Book Reviews

Review of Sixteenth Century Mission: Explorations in Protestant and Roman Catholic Theology and Practice edited by Gallagher and Smither
Book Reviews , Church History , Featured , Theology / February 1, 2023

Gallagher, Robert L. and Edward L. Smither, eds. Sixteenth Century Mission: Explorations in Protestant and Roman Catholic Theology and Practice. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2021, 29.99, paperback. Many readers will be able to recall a barbed quotation taken from the Jesuit, Robert Bellarmine, who castigated Protestantism for its evident lack of apostolic zeal for mission. He claimed that “they had hardly converted a handful” (Stephen Neill, The History of Missions, 1986, p. 188).  As one who wrestled first to understand and then to explain to others the ‘tortoise and the hare’ phenomenon exhibited in the modest beginning of Protestant missionary effort in the sixteenth century, this reviewer was keen to examine Sixteenth Century Mission. The prospect of finding accounts of Reformation-era missions provided from both sides of the confessional divide in a single volume seemed promising. In this review, we shall consider Sixteenth Century Mission as to its concept, as to its methodology, and as to its overall quality. The concept of Sixteenth Century Mission (hereafter SCM) is a noble one. Why hasn’t someone brought together essays representing early modern Protestant and Catholic mission, before now? The volume offers an initial ten chapters describing Protestant missionary activity within and beyond…

Review of Creation and Christ: An Exploration of the Topic of Creation in the Epistle to the Hebrews by Angela Costley

Costley, Angela. Creation and Christ: An Exploration of the Topic of Creation in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2020, pp. 385, 94.00€, paperback. When thinking about what makes the Christology of Hebrews distinctive, perhaps the first image that comes to mind is that of Jesus as high priest. Other topics of perennial interest in the study of Hebrews include the intriguing utilization of the Sabbath and the deployment of tabernacle, temple, and other cultic imagery. Angela Costley draws attention to the important role played by references to creation in Hebrews and argues that the author of Hebrews employs these allusions to creation in order to portray Jesus as the creator who descends to earth in order to lead believers into God’s primordial rest. Creation and Christ is a revision of the author’s 2018 Ph.D. dissertation, which was completed at St. Patrick’s College in the Pontifical University of Maynooth, Ireland. Costley currently teaches Greek and Wisdom literature at St. Mary’s College in Oscott. After establishing her research focus, Costley outlines the methodological tools that she will use in order to exegete creation language in Hebrews. Following a line of recent Hebrews scholars (e.g. Neeley, Westfall, and Dyer), Costley…

Review of What about Evil? A Defense of God’s Sovereign Glory by Scott Christensen
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / September 30, 2022

Christensen, Scott. What about Evil? A Defense of God’s Sovereign Glory. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2020, pp. 544, $30, hardback. Scott Christensen, is the author of the highly acclaimed What about Free Will?, foreword by D.A. Carson (P&R, 2016). Scott worked for nine years at the award-winning CCY Architects in Aspen, Colorado; several of his home designs were featured in Architectural Digest magazine. Called out of this work to the ministry, he graduated with his MDiv from The Masters Seminary with honors. He pastored Summit Lake Community Church in southwest Colorado for sixteen years and now serves as the associate pastor of Kerrville Bible Church in Kerrville, Texas. What About Evil?, by Scott Christensen, is a theologically rich resource that provides a defense of God’s sovereign glory and a reason for why God allows evil in the world. In seeking to answer the problem of evil, Christensen provides a robust solution that he calls the Greater-Glory Theodicy. In combining aspects of the Greater-Good Theodicy and fragments of the Best-of-All Possible Worlds Defense, the Greater-Glory Theodicy seeks to resolve the problem of evil in the backdrop of studying what brings God the greatest glory (p. 7). Christensen argues that Jesus’…

Review of Christ and Revelatory Community in Bonhoeffer’s Reception of Hegel by David S. Robinson
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / September 23, 2022

Robinson, David S. Christ and Revelatory Community in Bonhoeffer’s Reception of Hegel. Dogmatik in der Moderne 22. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2018, pp. xv + 260, €69.00, paperback. David Robinson was recently appointed as the R. Paul Stevens Assistant Professor of Marketplace Theology and Leadership at Regent College in Vancouver, Canada. The text under review is based on his doctoral dissertation at the University of Edinburgh. In it, Robinson seeks to recast Bonhoeffer’s reception of Hegel in a highly nuanced manner that is ultimately more positive than most previous appraisals. Rather than “demolition,” “revolt,” or “confrontation,” Bonhoeffer’s reception is seen as aiming to “repair” aspects of Hegel in “eclectic and Christologically intent” ways (pp. 11-12). For Robinson, such “intent” is especially apparent in Bonhoeffer’s transposition of Hegel’s “revelatory” notion of “God existing as community” to that of “Christ existing as community”—a significant move since this latter phrase is often a shorthand for Bonhoeffer’s overall program (p. 16). In comparison to earlier studies of the Bonhoeffer-Hegel question, Robinson’s approach differs in three ways (p. 17). First, whereas much of the previous scholarship placed inordinate attention upon Bonhoeffer’s second dissertation (Akt und Sein [1931]), Robinson’s approach is diachronic with regard to Bonhoeffer’s corpus…

Review of Theologies of Retrieval: An Exploration and Appraisal edited by Darren Sarisky
Book Reviews , Church History , Theology / September 16, 2022

Sarisky, Darren, ed. Theologies of Retrieval: An Exploration and Appraisal. T&T Clark Theology. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2017, pp. ix + 359, $175, hardback ($42.95, paperback). The present anthology is an essential read for those interested in the question of how classical texts within the Christian tradition can and should be theologically “retrieved” for the contemporary theological task. The volume’s editor, Darren Sarisky, previously served as Departmental Lecturer in Modern Theology at the University of Oxford before taking up his current post of Senior Research Fellow in Religion and Theology at Australian Catholic University’s Melbourne campus. Sarisky has done readers a great service by gathering a star-studded cast of scholars to guide readers through the thicket of representative figures, movements, and types of theological retrieval that have become prominent in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In his introduction to the volume, Sarisky rightly distinguishes between correlation and retrieval theologies—the “two main ways” that Christian theologians tend to engage with the present situation (p. 1). Whereas the former seeks “to correlate elements of the Christian tradition with aspects of modern culture” in a conversational manner for sake of helping the Christian message stay intellectually relevant, the latter is “less concerned to…

Review of Understanding Old Testament Theology: Mapping the Terrain of Recent Approaches by Brittany Kim and Charlie Trimm
Book Reviews , Old Testament , Theology / August 31, 2022

Kim, Brittany, and Charlie Trimm. Understanding Old Testament Theology: Mapping the Terrain of Recent Approaches. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2020, 177 pp., $14.99, paperback. In Understanding Old Testament Theology, Brittany Kim and Charlie Trimm provide an up-to-date survey of approaches to Old Testament theology. Their volume self-consciously flows in a similar vein as Klink and Lockett’s Understanding Biblical Theology, but the latter focuses primarily on New Testament issues and scholars (p. 2). Kim serves as a professor at North Park Theological Seminary and Northeastern Seminary, and Trimm as a professor at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. Both are products of the Ph.D. program at Wheaton College. After an introduction that includes a brief history of the field (pp. 4-7), Kim and Trimm propose their cartographical metaphor of Old Testament theology as a diverse mountain range. As a mountain range has different peaks, each of which offers a unique vantage point by which someone may view the landscape, so Old Testament theology has different peaks. Among the peaks, some are closer and more alike than others. Following the mountain range metaphor, the book is divided into three main parts. Part one, History, includes Old Testament theologies grounded in “biblical…

Review of Freedom and Necessity in Modern Trinitarian Theology
Book Reviews , Philosophy , Theology / August 1, 2022

Gallaher, Brandon. Freedom and Necessity in Modern Trinitarian Theology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp.318, £98, hardback. Brandon Gallaher is senior lecturer at the University of Exeter, specializing in twentieth century Orthodox theology and modern theology more broadly. The breadth of Gallaher’s interests are on display in this fine monograph. Freedom and Necessity in Modern Trinitarian Theology dialogues with three generative modern theologians each representing a distinct tradition: Sergei Bulgakov, Karl Barth, and Hans Urs von Balthasar. The book is organized round a set of questions related to the form of modality applicable to God’s immanent and transitive acts, but these particular issues offer an entryway into some of the most pressing debates in contemporary theology related to divine aseity, divine freedom, the reliability of our knowledge of God, and the relation between God in Godself and God’s acts in the world. Gallaher begins outlining three sorts of freedom and three corresponding forms of necessity. These versions of freedom and necessity provide an interpretive grid according to which his three dialogue partners are interpreted and then critically assessed and evaluated. In view of space constraints, I will move directly to summarize the dogmatic conclusions for which Gallaher advocates throughout the…

Review of Being Saved: Explorations in Human Salvation edited by Marc Cortez, Joshua R. Farris, and S. Mark Hamilton

Cortez, Marc, Joshua R. Farris, and S. Mark Hamilton, eds. Being Saved: Explorations in Human Salvation. London: SCM, 2018, pp. 361, $56, paperback. Being Saved is a collection of essays circling around the twin topics of “theological anthropology and soteriology” (p. xiii). The essays explore classic systematic theological categories while also engaging with other disciplines of enquiry about the human condition. The editors acknowledge that this creates a wide variety in the essays, but they seek to avoid “a homogenous approach to this multi-levelled discussion” (p. xv). This approach makes clear several different modes of theological enquiry for Christian theology. By juxtaposing them in one volume, it serves as a sourcebook for contemporary questions about soteriology and about the interaction between soteriology and philosophy. Although a four-part division provides structure to the book, some essays fall more neatly into the given categories than others. The first section, “Sin, Evil and Salvation,” centers on cosmic issues, or those outside the individual person. After initial forays into God and time (“Identity through Time,” R. T. Mullins) and idealism (“Divine Hiddenness,” Trickett and Taber), there are three essays on sin and atonement. Jonathan Rutledge rejects “Retributivism”, defined as the claim that “the punishment…

Review of Baptism: Zwingli or the Bible? by Jack Cottrell

Cottrell, Jack. Baptism: Zwingli or the Bible? Mason, OH: The Christian Restoration Association, 2022, 163pp, $14.99, paperback. Jack Cottrell, arguably the most prolific writer and influential theologian of the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, tackles the topic of baptism in yet another accessible book, Baptism: Zwingli or the Bible? This text incorporates Cottrell’s primary insights on how the Protestant Reformer Huldreich Zwingli (1484-1531) changed the course of church history by creating a new view of the meaning of baptism from salvific to merely symbolic. Although this concise book contains previously published material by Cottrell, it is good to have an overview and summary of Cottrell’s critique of Zwingli’s view of baptism in one small volume. It is certainly handy for the student as well as the scholar and teacher. Cottrell divides this work into three parts: (1) a review of his Princeton dissertation on Zwingli, (2) his personal views on “Zwinglianism,” and (3) a reproduction of “Connection of Baptism with Remission of Sins.” (Part Three is the work of the nineteenth century Christian Church theologian J. W. McGarvey which was originally included in his New Commentary on Acts of the Apostles [1892] but omitted from later editions.) Part One is divided…

Review of The Royal Priesthood and the Glory of God by David S. Schrock

Schrock, David S. The Royal Priesthood and the Glory of God. Short Studies in Biblical Theology. Edited by Dane C. Ortlund and Miles V. Van Pelt. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2022, pp. 199, $14.99, paperback. David Schrock is the Pastor of Preaching and Theology at Occoquan Bible Church in Woodbridge, Virginia. Dr. Schrock earned both his MDiv and PhD in systematic theology from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His dissertation is titled, “A Biblical-Theological Investigation of Christ’s Priesthood and Covenant Mediation with Respect to the Extent of the Atonement.” He is an Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology at Indianapolis Theological Seminary, Boyce College, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and, formerly, Crossroads Bible College. Dr. Schrock is also an Associate Fellow for the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. The Royal Priesthood and the Glory of God by David S. Schrock is a modest monograph about how the glory of God is fully revealed in the royal priesthood of Christ. This abbreviated work of biblical theology focuses on the biblical theme of priesthood to demonstrate how God’s glory is revealed in Christ’s righteousness expressed through the biblical concept of the priesthood. In an introduction, six chapters, and an…