Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
Bsac 162:648 (October 2005) p. 487
By The Faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary
Matthew S. DeMoss, Editor
To Know and Love God: Method for Theology. By David K. Clark. Foundations of Evangelical Theology. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003. 464 pp. $35.00.
In recent years evangelicals seem to have become more self-reflective about the discipline of theology. Increasingly works on theological prolegomena have included more emphasis on theological method. The fact that John Feinberg, the editor of the Foundations of Evangelical Theology series, devoted an entire volume to this topic demonstrates his view of its importance.
Clark is professor of theology at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. The title of this book emphasizes his thesis that an appropriate evangelical theology must integrate the head and the heart. The goal of theology is not simply to accumulate knowledge; it is also to love God and His creation (Matt. 22:37–40). When done well, theology results in a virtuous life. Since love is the greatest of Christian virtues (1 Cor. 13:13), knowledge of God and love for God should coexist.
Clark defines theology as a “bridge between Scripture and a particular culture” (p. xxx), and its task, he says, is to “articulate the content of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the context of a particular culture” (p. 33, italics his). This seems to imply that theology is essentially the task of translating Scripture (or its teaching) into a target context. Thus culture provides the context into which the interpretation of Scripture is to be communicated. The task of theology, then, is to interpret the Bible, translate that interpretation into the language of the culture, and thus produce virtue in the people of faith in that context. Such an approach, however, seems to undervalue the need for the interpreter to understand the cultural context of the biblical text. It also ignores the significance of the history of doctrine. Also missing is sufficient recognition of the radical discontinuity between the culture of the biblical text and that of the interpreter. Further, this approach seems not to appreciate adequately the degree to which the culture of the interpreter impacts the hermeneutical process for good or ill. The theological heritage of the interpreter, the community of faith in which he or she is nurtured in the faith, impacts the way the Bible is read.
Clark defends the goal of evangelical theology as “biblically controlled and contextually relevant knowledge that leads to spiritual wisdom” (p. 98), an important emphasis on theology as pursuit ...
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