Of Trajectories, Repristinations, And The Meaningful Engagement Of Texts: A Reply To J. V. Fesko -- By: William B. Evans

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 72:2 (Fall 2010)
Article: Of Trajectories, Repristinations, And The Meaningful Engagement Of Texts: A Reply To J. V. Fesko
Author: William B. Evans

Of Trajectories, Repristinations, And The Meaningful Engagement Of Texts: A Reply To J. V. Fesko

William B. Evans

William B. Evans is the Eunice Witherspoon Bell Taunts and Willie Camp Taunts Professor of Bible and Religion at Erskine College in Due West, S. C.

I want to thank Dr. John V Fesko for his rejoinder to my article and the editors of this journal for their kindness in allowing me this opportunity to respond. My article was intended to provoke discussion and debate, and I am grateful to Dr. Fesko for, as it were, hitting the ball back over the net, albeit with a good deal of spin. Although much more could be said in response, I will address in some detail the question of Calvin’s place in the tradition and Fesko’s criticisms of the proposed taxonomy

As I read over Dr. Fesko’s rejoinder, three more general concerns persistently came to mind. First, a good deal of his article deals with my treatment of Calvin and Reformed Orthodoxy, and he accuses me of failing to engage the relevant scholarship on these issues. My article, however, was almost entirely focused on recent American Reformed soteriological controversies and how these debates parallel eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American Reformed discussions. I did reference Calvin and Reformed Orthodoxy in two paragraphs at the beginning, where I briefly summarized the conclusions of the first two chapters of my 2008 monograph, Imputation and Impartation: Union with Christ in American Reformed Theology, and repeatedly referred the reader to those sections for more detailed discussion. It appears that Fesko only read my article and perhaps the last few pages of the book.

Second, Dr. Fesko has failed to recognize that my article was primarily descriptive rather than prescriptive. For example, he faults me for not making “a compelling exegetical-theological case,”1 when my primary purpose was to present a taxonomy of current debate that would be heuristically useful and serve to further constructive discussion.

Third, a critical methodological problem is evident in Dr. Fesko’s rejoinder. I remarked in my article that “the notion of historical development seems to play no substantive role” in the historiography of what I term the “Repristinationist Wing,”2 and Fesko’s rejoinder provides ample support for this assertion—it is

largely focused on what he takes to be the homogeneous excellencies of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Reformed (and Lutheran) thought. But the Reformed tradition is much more than the formulations of the sixteenth and se...

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