Archive for August 18th, 2012

Purchase: Amazon

The beginning of this book makes the observation that as soon as one makes a contemporary theology book, its bound not to be contemporary soon, because of the development in the religious landscape. I think the fact that it was written before the Soviet Union fell (as his discussion about the persecuted Charismatic church in the Soviet Union) or his chapter on some theology being a big risk that never materializes does not help. Still, I do manage to find it still interesting to note how someone at a certain time in the past thought about things. My chief criticism of this book is not that it’s been written over twenty plus years ago as it is theological: There are times I find it amazing that he will not find a problem with a certain theology, or what I find as a serious problem he sees as a plus! While I don’t dispute the author is an Evangelical, I think at times he’s not as discerning. Sometimes his evaluation seems left field as in the instance of his criticism of Word of Faith theology suffering from a bad dualism where the spiritual is only non-worldly and the physical is unspiritual (seriously, that’s the problem with Word of Faith prosperity preaching???). Based on his evaluation of other theology, he is probably not Reformed. I was disappointed that sometimes the resources for a controversial claim of what a particular theology believes in is not based on primary sources, but secondary critical sources. I don’t think if I did that for my theological seminar in Seminary that it would fly, and I find it amazing that the author can do that while be a teacher of theology in post-graduate setting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against engaging with important secondary sources, but if it’s a controversial statement about what proponents believed, it should be handle with care. I see this being most problematic with David Smith’s treatment of Christian Reconstructionism (though we see it in other theologies that he surveyed as well). For instance, he asserts that Rushdoony has a low view of Calvin, but he does not explain what he means and in what sense, and the footnote he gives as his proof was to an anti-theonomy source that has been seriously discredited and problematic. I would prefer that the author lets Rushdoony speaks for himself rather than from a second hand, that now becomes a third hand source (and if quoted by someone for a paper, now passes down fourth hand, etc). I suppose it’s good is still that it reveals what other theology are out there in our contemporary landscape though he might not always have the best evaluation of it.

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