by Gerald R. McDermott, ed.
Oxford University Press, 198 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016, 524 pages, 2010, $150.
—Reviewed by Robert S. Covolo, Center for Advanced Theological Studies, Fuller Seminary, Pasadena, CA.
Evangelical theology has come of age. This is represented not only in the prominence of many evangelical theologians, but in the increasing breadth and development of distinctively evangelical approaches to theology’s various sub-disciplines. Long gone are the days when evangelicals were noted merely for their views on scripture and hermeneutics. Evangelicals now boast their own distinct theological reflection on both traditional theological themes (e.g., creation, sin, salvation) and on other diverse issues (e.g., politics, economics, race). In response to the breadth, depth, and confidence of current evangelical scholarship, The Oxford Handbook of Evangelical Theology has created a digestible compendium of this flourishing body of knowledge.
Editor Gerald R. McDermott has brought together thirty-one significant thinkers in evangelical theology—itself a display of the breadth and wealth of the movement. While many of the contributors are household names in evangelical theology (e.g., Kevin Vanhoozer, Alister McGrath, and Dallas Willard), the volume also includes rising stars such as Oliver Crisp and Eric Gregory. Matched to their respective areas of expertise, each contributor offers a window into the best of evangelical reflection on a given subject.
Beginning with an essay by Mark Noll exploring what it means to be an evangelical, McDermott proceeds to organize thirty-one selections under six major headings: The Bible and Theological Method (hermeneutics, reason, experience, tradition); Theological Foundations (Trinity, creation, sin, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit, Israel and salvation, the gospel, conversion and redemption, justification and atonement, discipleship, spiritual practices, eschatology); Theology of Church (church and sacraments, ecumenism, worship, spiritual gifts); Theology of Mission (mission and evangelism, other religions); and Theological Approaches to Contemporary Life (ethics, politics, economics, arts, science, sexuality, race, abortion/disability, gender).
More than merely a pocket-reference, each contribution fits somewhere between an encyclopedia entry and a book chapter (from twelve to eighteen pages). For those looking for a brief overview, McDermott’s paragraph-long sketches of each entry in the introduction are quite helpful. Also helpful are the bibliographies at the end of each entry, providing direction for further study. As a reference work, entries go beyond the viewpoints of their authors—typically exploring the spectrum of evangelical reflection on a given subject. In this way, the work functions as both a summary as well as a meta-discussion on the range of evangelical positions.
This handbook provides an updated approach to the increasing fluency and expansion of evangelical theology. Because of the prohibitive cost of the volume, some will have to think twice about the purchase. Nevertheless, those able to access a copy will find these overviews a go-to for both their own understanding, as well as a helpful resource for training others from a distinctly evangelical position.
Check these titles:
Larsen, Timothy. 2007. The Cambridge Companion to Evangelical Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Webster, John. 2009. The Oxford Handbook of Systematic Theology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
EMQ, Vol. 47, No. 4, pp. 501-502. Copyright © 2011 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS). All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.