Book Notices -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 12:2 (Fall 1991)
Article: Book Notices
Author: Anonymous


Book Notices

Church History

Encyclopedia of Early Christianity. Ed. Everett Ferguson. New York: Garland, 1990.

This work is not intended to supplant other more technical works in the area of patrology, historical theology, or biography. Technical scholars can benefit from the breadth of subjects presented with basically up-to-date research and conclusions. But the real service provided by this Encyclopedia is for pastors and theological students. Evangelical Christianity in general is very short on both knowledge and concern for Christian history between the New Testament and the Reformation. Spiritual and theological hypomorphism is often the result. Now, at one’s fingertips can be a well-ordered clear presentation of pertinent facts, accurate summaries of biography and thought, and doctrinal development “to whatever point provides a definitive or significant conclusion to the topic” (p. vii). All the way from “Abercius” to “Zosimus” the Encyclopedia can enrich the theological, historical, and spiritual comprehension of the pastor, student, or teacher who uses it wisely, widely, and penultimately. It should serve as a springboard to more thorough reading and meditating.

Leonard, Bill J. God’s Last and Only Hope. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990.

For twelve years Southern Baptists, a denomination with six official theological seminaries, over 30,000 churches, and reporting a membership of over 15,000,000, have been duking it out over the issues of biblical inerrancy and control of the denomination’s extensive institutional life. The most persevering, well-organized, single-minded, and determined attempt to reverse a denominational theological slide has apparently succeeded. The dimensions of the victory are unparalleled in modern denominational history. Bill Leonard analyzes the victory from a sociological perspective through the eyes of an informed and self-conscious moderate. He views the genius of Southern Baptist organization as a “Grand Compromise” of various theological and ecclesiological options for the sake of maintaining an island of cultural homogeneity—a triumphalistic remnant of righteousness from the land of the “lost cause.” The title of the book reflects this Southern Baptist self-perception. The current fragmentation is the, somewhat inevitable, breaking out of one participating group in that compromise. Modernity and demographics destroyed any rationale for the cultural consensus and opened the way for the dominance of a narrow ideology in league with reactionary political right-wingism. There is a substantial amount of clarity and incisiveness, an

equal amount of poignancy, and flashes of brillia...

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