Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
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Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation. By Matthew Levering. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2014. 363+xi pages. $44.99. Hardback.
One of the biggest divides between Roman Catholics and Protestants continues to be the authority of the Church and Scripture. Roman Catholics tend to have a high view of both sources of authority, allowing for each to construct doctrine. Protestants, with their famous motto sola scriptura, tend to limit the importance of church tradition in understanding doctrine. Matthew Levering, who holds the James N. and Mary D. Perry, Jr. Chair of Theology at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake, does not deviate from the historic Roman Catholic understanding of the doctrine of revelation in this recent volume. However, his application of careful research and in-depth analysis make this a volume that will benefit academics from different theological perspectives for years to come.
The foundation of Levering’s argument is a belief that divine revelation must be mediated through both canonical Scripture and the covenant community. His purpose in this book is, therefore, “to explore the missional, liturgical, and doctrinal forms of the Church’s mediation of divine revelation and to appreciate Scripture’s inspiration and truth in this context” (3). After the introduction, which surveys some of the previous academic volumes on this topic, the book is divided into eight chapters. In each chapter Levering explains how divine revelation is mediated by the Church through various means.
Chapter one begins with revelation mediated through the outward motion of the Church as she fulfills her mission. As the Church participates in the self-denying missio Dei, she demonstrates the very nature of God to herself and the world. The second chapter focuses on revelation experienced through the Church’s liturgy, which is considered a demonstration of God’s character on public display.
Levering then shifts to treating revelation and the hierarchical priesthood, arguing the accepted hierarchy of the Roman Catholic (and some “high church” Protestant denominations) affirms Jesus’ design for the Church, and represents divine revelation. This is the weakest of the chapters because there is no clear
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basis in the volume for the assumption that established liturgical forms represent Christ’s intention for the order of worship. Chapter four relates the relationship between the gospel and revelation. In contrast to Chapter one, which focuses on the Church’s collective demonstration of revelation through action, this chapter explores the life of the individual as impacted by the gospel.
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