Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
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Rethinking Christianity. Keith Ward. Oxford, England: One World Publishers, 2007. 240 pp. $29.95. (cloth) ISBN 1–85168–506–5.
In his book Rethinking Christianity, a sequel to the previous volume Pascal’s Fire, Keith Ward clearly states his purpose: “My argument is that [the] Christian faith has developed throughout its history and that it must continue to do so.” He asserts, and then attempts to support in the rest of the book, that there is no one unchangeable teaching preserved by any group. Ward writes a book he claims is liberal yet orthodox, but at the same time he claims no one group has preserved the teaching of Christ. This is a highly unorthodox view. Ward is not correct; teachings like the inerrancy of Scripture, the bodily resurrection, the exclusiveness of salvation, the miracles that Jesus worked, and other such teachings passed down from Jesus, are preserved by evangelicals today. Ward’s statement is self–defeating.
Ward’s book has several positive features. First, the book is not a lengthy read. Second, he sets forth from the outset in strictly honest rhetoric that his view is liberal, giving the reader a basis on which to evaluate his claims. Third, the book is an easy read. Avoiding the usage of complicated words and theological terms, the book is written in a plain style, which flows easily in thought. Even difficult concepts
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like the Trinity are explained using common vernacular that all may understand, whether a scholar, Bible student, layman, or uncharted.
As a widely published and season scholar, Ward uses primary sources to support his views. The quotation of such liberal scholars as Rudolf Bultmann, Karl Barth; and others such as Peter Abelard, Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, and many others aid in the development of Ward’s claims. By using such theologians he attempts to lay out a theology that he feels “fits” the contemporary society.
This book is more of a systematic theological text. It traces six doctrines through their development from the incorporation of Hellenistic philosophy to the incorporation of evolutionary theory along with the challenge of Marxism. Ward attempts to demonstrate that Christianity has always been express in constantly changing ways in response to new knowledge and understandings of the world.
Several weaknesses exist in his argumentation. First, Ward assumes an evolving text. His argumentation seems to be more cultural driven than exegetical driven. Ward fails to demonstrate a first century understanding of the text as “evolving” with culture. He says different people in various ways throughout history have interpreted...
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