Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 143:569 (Jan 1986)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Edited by Walter A. Elwell. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984. xxi + 1204 pp. $29.95.

This reference work is an extensive revision and expansion of Bakers Dictionary of Theology ( 1960). Its editor is professor of Bible and theology at Wheaton College. About 200 contributors, including several from Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote the approximately 1,200 articles on various theological topics: systematic, historical, biblical, and philosophical. The diversity of evangelicalism is evident. However, “nothing in EDT casts doubt on any fundamental truth of the Christian faith, or on the absolute trustworthiness of the Bible” (p. v). The articles may be characterized as “sympathetic yet critical” in approach.

Two distinctive features are noteworthy. First, the volume includes relevant subjects. “After several decades of trying to find answers for our deepest questions in everything from biochemistry to computer science, it has dawned upon us once more that these questions are theological and that only theological answers will do” (p. v). If one cannot find “answers to deepest needs” in this dictionary, then at least he can find information for sound thinking about those needs. Articles are included on abortion, bioethics, church and state, pornography, positive thinking, self-esteem, sexual ethics, war, etc. Contemporary positions include liberation, process, and black theologies. Perhaps feminist theology and theonomy should have been included.

Second, each article stresses the theological implications of the subject. This is particularly evident in articles with historical and social focuses such as “Twelve Articles of the Peasants” and “War.” This reviewer found the discussions of doctrines (such as “Christology” and “Bible”), individuals (e.g., “Rudolf Bultmann”), and movements (e.g., “Biblical

Theology Movement”) especially helpful. One may wonder why more material has not been included on various theological aspects of contemporary counseling. Perhaps this is for the same reason that one does not find articles on Sartre and media: the shortage of space in a single volume work.

Unfortunately not all the articles were written evenhandedly. For example a reader can discern that personal reaction was a significant element in the writing of the essay “Rapture of the Church,” by Clouse. Nineteen lines on the possible indebtedness of Darby to Irving and MacDonald is disproportionate and misleading if not fallacious. One should continue to note Ryrie’s Dispensationalism Today, pages 12–13 and 74–76, in this regard. In his final par...

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