Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 18:2 (Fall 1997)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Richard Lints. The Fabric of Theology: A Prolegomenon to Evangelical Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993. 359 pp. $20.00 paper.

Richard Lints teaches theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, Massachusetts. Lints’s work is just what its title says, a prolegomenon. He is offering a word to evangelicals, both a positive and a negative word as to how evangelical theology can move ahead in largely postmodern times. Lints posits that evangelicals have too often ignored important methodological questions, and evangelical theology will be crippled until such questions are faced squarely (pp. 8–12). Lints posits that fundamental questions of theological method must be engaged:

What is theology after all? What is a theological vision? How do theology and culture relate? How does the construction of dogma relate to the biblical text? Where does one’s religious tradition fit in? What principles of organization (e.g., historical, philosophical, cultural) ought to be used in theology? How might one go about finding principles to determine which principles ought to be employed (the metamethodological question)? (p. 8)

Of these methodological questions, the central question for Lints concerns one’s “theological matrix” or “theological framework” (p. 19). By this he means something like one’s “conceptual framework,” frame of reference, or one’s “way to think about the world” (p. 17). The theological matrix is the same as one’s theological framework. Lints writes:

My driving concern in this volume is to elucidate the process by which the theistic matrix is derived and to illuminate the signifi-cance of that matrix for the remaining matrices [vocational, leisure, etc.] of a person’s noetic structure… [I]t is to ask how one should construct a theological framework and how a theological vision ought to arise from that framework. (p. 19)

While one may have many “matrixes,” Lints is concerned with one’s “theological matrix.” Lints wishes to emphasize the fabric of theology, the overarching framework of the theological task. He laments that “evangelical theology tends to deal with each component part individually, at best stitching things together after the fashion of a patchwork quilt” (p. 261). Indeed,

There is no pattern that holds the quilt together overall, other than its diversity. Evangelical theology tends to be as hap-hazard in assembling individual doctrines as television is in assembling

individual images: there is no encompassing framework or intrinsic consistency. (p. 261)

Lints affirms two principles: (1) the “rea...

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