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Darrell Bock: Purpose-Directed Theology

Purpose-Directed Theology is an important book. Nonetheless, a few questions remain that will have a significant impact on how the book is received. Throughout his work it is not clear what the author means when he uses the term “evangelicalism.” The definition as “people committed to Christ, his gospel and the primacy of Scripture” (p. 53) is too broad to fit only the evangelical community he has in mind. The careful use of the word “church” would have helped in defining Bock’s vision; unfortunately, the term is not sufficiently defined from either an ecclesiological or ecumenical perspective. It is questionable how evangelicalism can escape the apparent inward direction of its energy without also engaging the wider ecumenical community. Bock might have an ecumenical perspective in mind when he refers to the cultural and missionary mandate of evangelicals. However, cultural engagement without explicit ecumenical collaboration runs the risk of resembling mere social activism and fails to address non-evangelical Christians on a fundamental ecclesial level. On the other hand, the missionary mandate of evangelicals should engage other ecclesial communities as partners not objects of their mission. Ecclesial identity and ecumenical involvement go hand in hand if evangelicals wish to get their priorities right. Darrell Bock’s Purpose-Directed Theology offers a significant challenge in these and other aspects, and the book should make its way into all areas of evangelicalism where serious theological discussion and collaboration are appreciated and nourished.

Reviewed by Wolfgang Vondey


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Category: In Depth, Winter 2004

About the Author: Wolfgang Vondey, Ph.D. (Marquette University) and M.Div. (Church of God Theological Seminary), is Reader in Contemporary Christianity and Pentecostal Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK. He is an ordained minister with the Church of God (Cleveland, TN). His research focuses on ecclesiology, pneumatology, theological method, and the intersection of theology and science.

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