Book Reviews -- By: Matthew S. DeMoss
BSac 175:699 (July-September 2018) p. 365
By The Faculty And Staff Of Dallas Theological Seminary
Christian Dogmatics: Reformed Theology for the Church Catholic. Edited by Michael Allen and Scott R. Swain. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2016. 408 pp. $36.99.
Allen is associate professor of Systematic and Historical Theology and Swain is associate professor of Systematic Theology and academic dean at Reformed Theological Seminary. This collection of essays deals with “most of the major topics (loci) of dogmatics” and is written by “accomplished theologians from across the world” (1). As a result, it does not “constitute a unified school of thought on various methodological and theological matters” (1–2). Some readers will find this inconsistency frustrating.
The editors argue that theology, a gift of grace, has both retrieval and renewal foci. They intend these essays to “chart a catholic and Reformed path forward, then, by pointing backward” (5). Their hope is “that readers will find its chapters a reliable guide to the mysteries of the faith attested by the prophets and apostles and a prompt in the ongoing journey of theological reason between the darkness of Egypt and the light of Canaan. By listening to the witness of pilgrims before us and by attending to the broader terrain in which we roam, we hope that the task of journeying well—that is, faithfully—will be aided and encouraged” (6).
The book is divided into sixteen chapters written by twelve different authors. In “The Knowledge of God,” Michael Allen defends a theological method with a pivotal role for the Christian tradition. He explains, “The role of creeds and confessions helps to shape the very title of this volume: Christian Dogmatics rather than merely Christian Theology or Systematic Theology. Dogmatics involves a churchly engagement of doctrine within the lived reality of the communion of the saints and attention to her ecclesiastical guidance in the form of her creeds and confessions” (28; he cites 2 Timothy 1:13 in support). Kevin J. Vanhoozer, in “Holy Scripture,” defends the inspiration, infallibility, and authority of Scripture. In “Divine Attributes,” Michael Allen focuses on the names of God in Exodus: “First, God names himself: ‘I AM WHO I AM’ (Exod. 3:14)” (69) and “ ‘the Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’ (Exod. 3:15)” (73). The lack of discussion of God’s own self-description in ...
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