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Vanhoozer and Treier: Theology and the Mirror of Scripture

Can we rehabilitate what ‘evangelical’ means?

The authors present a united clear distillation of evangelical theology as the pursuit of wisdom, via theological interpretation of the bible, in the drama of the church’s witness and worship. Part one sketches this Christological realism and ecclesiological approach in two chapters that deal with the “economy of light,” presenting evangelical theology as an “anchored” set. The two chapters in fact mirror each other: each have the same eight-part structure that opens with a problem and then examines what is in Christ from different angles. Chapter 1 presents a theological ontology, an investigation into the gospel of God and the God of the gospel, focusing on the reality behind the mirror of Scripture – that is, the economic Trinity that mirrors the immanent Trinity. The second chapter presents a theological epistemology that focuses on the way in which biblical testimony yields knowledge, and the way biblical truth is preserved as doctrine comes into focus, which is highlights the truth in and of the mirror of Scripture.

Part two builds upon part one’s Christocentric realism that sketched the agenda for evangelical theology, analyzing in detail how that agenda applies to evangelical theology currently being practiced. It relates the theological prolegomena to evangelical ecclesiology, depicting the biblically rooted catholicity that not only respects particular church traditions but also pursues ecumenical opportunities. Chapter 3 in fact defines and defends an account of theology as the wisdom of the whole people of God. Chapter 4 depicts a theological interpretation of the bible as central to seeking wisdom. The fifth chapter moves to ecclesiology, sketching how theology serves the people of God amid missional fellowship. And finally, chapter 6 shifts the focus to the academy, noting how evangelical theology can benefit from and contribute to scholarly excellence.

What ultimately defines evangelicalism is God’s word and God’s act.

What ultimately defines evangelicalism is God’s word and God’s act. Herein, the authors do not pretend to give a universally compelling description of what evangelicals profess to practice, but rather a normative proposal of what they ought to profess and practice. They believe that evangelicals, perhaps more than other groups, are the most fitting audience for this book. They posit such because evangelicals understand themselves to be a transdenominational movement within the broader church, they understand themselves to be a retrieving movement that returns again and again to the Scriptures to regain their bearings, and because they understand themselves to be a reviving movement that encourages heartfelt response, in the power of the Spirit, to the Word of God. Vanhoozer and Treier’s “mere” evangelical theology is an exercise in Christian wisdom for the purpose of edifying the fellowship of saints within the church. Highly recommended to all comers.

Reviewed by Bradford McCall


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Category: Biblical Studies, Winter 2017

About the Author: Bradford L. McCall, B.S. in Biology (Georgia Southwestern St. University, 2000), M.Div. (Asbury Theological Seminary, 2005), grew up on a cotton farm in south Georgia. A graduate student at Holy Apostles College and Seminary, Bradford has particular interest in teleology, causation and early modern philosophy.

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