Book Review: ‘Did The Reformers Misread Paul: A Historicacal Critique of the New Perspective’, by Aaron O’Kelley

Did The Reformers Misread Paul: A Historicacal Critique of the New Perspective‘, by Aaron O’Kelley, Paternoster, 188 pp. $20.00

 

Did the Reformers Misread Paul? The debate(s) over the new perspective(s) on Paul have largely cooled, replaced by debates over the apocalyptic Paul or the covenental Paul. This cooling has, however, allowed for a bit more breathing room and flexibility when it comes to engaging with the central ideas of the NPP, and the present work is a much calmer examination of these central ideas. The answer to the initial question and title of the book is, as I see it, is twofold: yes, and no. But first, I’ll attend to the book itself and then to its main ideas. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Flesh and Blood: A Dogmatic Sketch Concerning the Fallen Nature View of Christ’s Human Nature’, by Daniel J. Cameron

Flesh and Blood: A Dogmatic Sketch Concerning the Fallen Nature View of Christ’s Human Nature‘, by Daniel J. Cameron, Wipf and Stock, 116 pp. $17.00

There is something of a resurgence of interest in the theology of Thomas F. Torrance happening in contemporary theology. A number of books and articles have been written on various aspects of his thought, from his eucharistic theology to his use of the patristic tradition to his influence within the context of ecumenical dialogue to his understanding of Christ’s assumption of a fallen human nature. This last point is probably the most controversial aspect of Torrance’s theology which he defended quite seriously, and is the subject of the present book under review. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Engaging Luther: A (New) Theological Assessment’, edited by Olli-Pekka Vainio

Engaging Luther: A (New) Theological Assessment‘, edited by Olli-Pekka Vainio, Cascade Books, 272 pp. $32.00

This was a very enjoyable collection of essays, centered around a broad engagement with Martin Luther. Each of the 12 essays in this volume survey Luther’s thought on a given theological topic, and each can be read on its own – this isn’t a systematic presentation or harmonization. What unifies the essays is the perspective of Finnish Lutheranism, which is the topic of the introductory article by Risto Saarinen. This essay serves as a primer on Finnish Lutheranism, which, as Saarinen puts it, ‘sets out to prove that, first, Luther’s theology is ontologically richer and contains an effective view of justification as the presence of things hoped for, and, second, that the subjectivist picture of Luther to a great extent stems from the anti-Catholic prejudices of modern Protestantism’ (p. 15). This serves as the unifying theme of all the various engagements with Luther here. Since there are 12 essays I won’t summarize each here, but instead I’ll note the ones I found to be exceptional. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Barth and Rationality: Critical Realism in Theology’, by D. Paul La Montagne

Barth and Rationality: Critical Realism in Theology‘, by D. Paul La Montagne,  Cascade Books, 248 pp.  $29.00

First and foremost, this is a good book. There is a lot that is offered here, and anyone remotely interested in Barth, theological epistemology, theological method and any number of related fields will find this a valuable contribution. There are a number of creative angles on Barth, stemming from D. Paul La Montagne’s familiarity with the philosophy of science and philosophy of mathematics. These are approaches to Barth that are not often taken, and if they are taken, are not often fleshed out to the degree they ought to be. La Montagne fleshes this out at length, and the result is an interpretation of Barth’s theology, methodology and epistemology that is in conversation with contemporary developments in philosophy of science and mathematics. This is not a common combination.

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Book Review: ‘The Anointed Son: A Trinitarian Spirit Christology’, by Myk Habets

The Anointed Son: A Trinitarian Spirit Christology‘, by Myk Habets, Pickwick Publications, 340 pp. $39.00

In this constructive volume, Myk Habets seeks to rehabilitate an aspect of christology that has long been overlooked and overshadowed: pneumatology. The role of the Spirit, Habets argues, ought to be fundamental in christology, and thinking pneumatologically in christology will enrich and even correct Christian thinking on this topic. The sparring-partner (and, at times, almost-bogeyman) of Spirit christology is classical orthodox Logos christology, though Habets does not seek to remove or replace Logos christology so much as supplement and augment it with a dynamic theology of the Spirit. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘The Apathetic God: Exploring the Contemporary Relevance of Divine Impassibility’, by Daniel Castelo

The Apathetic God: Exploring the Contemporary Relevance of Divine Impassibility‘, by Daniel Castelo, Wipf and Stock, 172 pp. $17.60

Impassibility is something of a perennial topic for me. I can generally read just about anything on it and come away feeling that the time spent reading was time well-spent, and Daniel Castelo’s short but sweet little volume is definitely time well-spent.

One of the strengths of this book is that it’s not merely a historical study or a survey of the doctrine of impassibility – though both of these things do comprise part of the book – but it is also a sustained interaction with contemporary theology of a passibilist persuasion. Castelo spends the bulk of the interaction with Moltmann (who seems to function as something like an archetype for modern theology), and this interaction, as I’ll note below, is both appreciative and critical. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Evangelical, Catholic and Reformed: Doctrinal Essays on Barth and Related Themes’ by George Hunsinger

Evangelical, Catholic and Reformed: Doctrinal Essays on Barth and Related Themes by George Hunsinger, Eerdmans, 331 pp. $34.00

 

Evangelical, Catholic and Reformed has fast become one of my favourite collections of theological essays, for a couple of reasons. First, as you may have guessed from the title, the focus is on broad, ecumenical themes in a Barth-ian key, meaning that Barth is at the center of most of the various discussions. Hunsingers exposition of Barth in relation to these topics is masterful, and shows just how Barth can contribute to matters of ecumenical and catholic theology today, and this is no easy task. Second, the essays very rigorous (but quite readable). Hunsinger has a real familiarity and mastery of his sources and conversation partners, and reads them in a charitable but critical manner. Since there are a large number of essays, I won’t review each one, but focus on those that stood out to me. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Karl Barth’s Infralapsarian Theology: Origins and Development 1920-1953’, by Shao Kai Tseng

Karl Barth’s Infralapsarian Theology: Origins and Development 1920-1953‘, by Shao Kai Tseng, IVP Academic, 319 pp. $31.20

One may be forgiven for a quizzical look upon reading the title of the volume under review, considering that no less a theologian than Karl Barth declared his theology to be of a supralapsarian type. Tseng is out to prove pretty much everyone, Barth included, wrong here, and his attempt is a valiant, scholarly and exceedingly well-documented one. Does he succeed? Well, to give a suitably Barthian answer: yes, and no.
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Book Review: ‘The Virtue of Bonhoeffer’s Ethics: A Study of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s ‘Ethics’ in Relation to Virtue Ethics’, by Jennifer Moberly

The Virtue of Bonhoeffer’s Ethics: A Study of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s ‘Ethics’ in Relation to Virtue Ethics‘, by Jennifer Moberly

Pickwick Publicaitons, 270 pp. $30.00

Dietrich Bonhoeffer has long been one of my favourite theologians. Actually, thinking back on it, he was probably one of the first serious theologians I became interested in, and after reading The Cost of Discipleship, I dove into his Ethics. That book was a paradigm shift for me, and since then I’ve read a good deal of Bonhoeffer’s writing, but always come back to Ethics.

Jennifer Moberly, in this study, seeks to draw out aspects of Bonhoeffer’s ethical vision that fit together with virtue ethics. In between the introduction and the conclusion are five chapters, having to do with whether or not Bonhoeffer thought of himself as a virtue ethicist, a survey of virtue ethics in Christian thought, Bonhoeffer’s ethics as virtue ethics, Bonhoeffer’s modes of ethical discourse, and divine command and/or virtue ethics. Continue reading

Book Review: ‘Construing the Cross: Type, Sign, Symbol, Word, Action’, by Frances M. Young

Construing the Cross: Type, Sign, Symbol, Word, Action‘, by Frances M. Young

Cascade Books, 160 pp. $19.00

Construing the Cross, Frances Young’s Didsbury Lecture, is a slim volume packed with insights theological, anthropological, biblical, and whatever-else-ical. Do not be fooled by the size of this book – there’s more meat here than in many substantially larger tomes.

Young’s goal here is fairly simple and is given away in the title: she’s taking us on a journey through the various ways that the cross was construed in early Christian thought before the onset of ‘atonement theories’ (while not exactly a bogeyman, ‘atonement theories’ function as a bit of negative here). Young’s first look focuses on the Passover as the primary way in which Christians thought of the cross. Patristic and biblical texts are the key sources here, and Young cites Melito as drawing deeply from the Exodus narrative to show that the Gospel itself is a parallel to the Exodus. For Melito, Christ is:

…the one who clad death in shame, and, as Moses did to Pharaoh, made the devil grieve…This is the one who delivered us from slavery to freedom, from darkness into light, from death into life, from tyranny into an eternal Kingdom, and made us a new priesthood, and a people everlasting for himself. (p. 6)

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