Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
RAR 12:2 (Spring 2003) p. 163
The Church: Sacraments, Worship, Ministry, Mission, Donald G. Bloesch, Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, (2002), 351 pages, cloth, $27.00
Donald Bloesch’s latest addition to his “Christian Foundations” series is a timely and prophetic contribution to the current debate on the Church. A theology of the Church that is founded on Scripture and a thorough dialogue with key theological movements, both historical and contemporary, has been more than adequately provided by Bloesch’s The Church: Sacraments, Worship, Ministry, Mission. His coverage of Scripture reveals a concern to establish a teaching of the Church based on a theology of the Word of God. Consequently, Bloesch has once again given us a work that is thoroughly evangelical. Furthermore, his firm grasp of theological history and the theology of the wider Church has enabled him to produce a work that is both evangelical and catholic. In addition, Bloesch’s new venture in theology demonstrates not only academic depth but also a significant measure of discernment and pastoral sensitivity.
Bloesch’s rich theological background has left its mark on all of his theological writings. He was raised in a denomination espousing both Reformed Confessionalism and Lutheran and Reformed Pietism. This background partly explains his emphasis on Jesus Christ as the living Word of God, a respect for the confessions of the Church, and the conviction that the Christian life is to be lived in co-operation with the work of
RAR 12:2 (Spring 2003) p. 164
the Holy Spirit. While studying at the Federated Schools of Theology at the University of Chicago, Bloesch rejected the neo-naturalism of his teachers and turned to the works of neo-orthodoxy, particularly Karl Barth. At that time he also found an affinity with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, which regularly held meetings on the University of Chicago campus. These encounters have produced an evangelical theologian in serious dialogue with the evangelicalism of Barth.
The influence of Barth is apparent in most of Bloesch’s theological works and again in The Church. Here Bloesch once more follows Barth in establishing a theology of the Word of God that is rich in historical sources, particularly the Reformation heritage. Like his mentor, Bloesch contends with theological liberalism, secular mythology, and the rationalism underlying most fundamentalist theologies. The influence of Barth can also be detected in Bloesch’s Christ-centered understanding of the Word and his definition of the gospel. One notes Bloesch’s frequent references to theologians who are generally considered close to Barth in one way or other—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Hans Kung and P.T. Forsyt...
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