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Across the Spectrum

 
Across the SpectrumGregory A. Boyd and Paul R. Eddy, Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009), 352 pages, ISBN 9780801037931.

Across the Spectrum contains seventeen short chapters which give a good introduction to a variety of debates spanning across the topics of systematic theology including: biblical inerrancy, divine providence, divine foreknowledge, how to interpret the Genesis creation narratives, the image of God, the relation of Christ’s human and divine natures, models of the atonement, Calvinism and Arminianism (including a chapter on eternal security), sanctification, the destiny of the unevangelized, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the presence of charismatic gifts today, women in ministry, the millennium, and hell. The book is concerned specifically with evangelical theology, particularly concerns raised in the American context, therefore the book does not aim to discuss every conclusion that the Christian traditions have taken on the topics covered. So, for example, the chapter on “The Lord’s Supper Debate” does not discuss the transubstantiation view, since this view is not held by evangelical theologians. Each chapter begins by briefly introducing questions that have lead to the debate and then notes the consensus among the diverse views. The authors also briefly note views that contrast with these evangelical proposals. The majority of each chapter discusses the biblical and theological arguments that support each viewpoint while also responding to potential objections to each viewpoint. The “Further Reading” sections at the end of each chapter and the glossary at the end of the book well serve students who seek to do further research on these topics.

This 2009 publication is a revision of the book as first published in 2002. The major changes from the first edition involve the reduction of a chapter on the “Human Constitution Debate” (e.g., body, soul, spirit) down to a section in the appendix, the expansion of the chapter on divine foreknowledge to distinguish “The Arminian View” from “The Calvinist View,” and the addition of a very helpful appendix (formerly available online), which very briefly introduces the diverse evangelical approaches to the following topics: theological method, models of the Trinity, the extent of Noah’s flood, the relation of wives to their husbands, Christians and politics, what happens to babies who die, baptism in the Holy Spirit (as well as its relation to speaking in tongues), the relation of Christians and demons, how to interpret the book of revelation, the timing of Jesus return (with respect to Preterism and the ‘rapture’) and, (as noted above) what constitutes humanity. Between the main chapters and the appendix, the book already offers a wealth of information. The book could be further strengthened by expanding the chapter on divine foreknowledge to consider additional attributes of God as well as by adding a discussion of the diverse evangelical views regarding original sin, the historicity of Adam and Eve, and forms of church governance.

Across the Spectrum is helpful for anyone looking for a brief outline of the debates in evangelical theology. The format succeeds at informing people at more than their own presuppositions, even though it is limited to focusing on evangelical theology. In a classroom format, the book could serve well as a supplement to a full introduction to Christian theology. One strength of the book is that it clearly illustrates how evangelicalism includes diversity on many theological topics (however, those who would define evangelical theology very narrowly might question if a few of the viewpoints in this book are in fact reflective of evangelical theology). Recognizing these strengths, a potential hazard of the book is that, if used alone, a person could read the book and conclude that theologians are only busy debating many topics and miss the depth of the key teachings of Christianity that are found within the consensus of the Church.

Reviewed by Andrew K. Gabriel.

 

Publisher’s page: www.bakeracademic.com/Book.asp?isbn=978-0-8010-3793-1

Preview this book: books.google.com/books?id=4tj2N1QaaO4C

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Category: In Depth, Pneuma Review, Spring 2012

About the Author: Andrew K. Gabriel, Ph.D. (McMaster), is an ordained minister with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada and assistant professor of theology at Horizon College and Seminary, an affiliated college of the University of Saskatchewan. He has focused his research on the doctrines of God, the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, Pentecostalism, and Karl Barth. He is the author of Barth's Doctrine of Creation: Creation, Nature, Jesus, and the Trinity (2013), The Lord is the Spirit: The Holy Spirit and the Divine Attributes (2011), and co-author of Johannine Writings and Apocalyptic: An Annotated Bibliography (2013). He blogs at AndrewGabriel.wordpress.com.

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