Evangelical Theology in Transition | Elmer M. Colyer, Ed.

In Bible College I read huge tracts of Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology. That big green cover still occupies a prominent place on my bookshelf. I recently took it down and reread portions of it to help clarify my theological understanding of various topics only to discover that I disagree with quite a bit of Erickson’s analysis.

In Seminary I read Bloesch’s two-volume Essentials of Evangelical Theology. In order to better evaluate what I read this time around, I picked up Colyer’s volume on Bloesch’s theology.

Evangelical Theology in Transition is a collection of essays from prominant theologians of various stripes. It’s not every day you see the aforementioned Millard Erickson under the same covers as Clark Pinnock and Avery Dulles! Each of the contributers to this volume seek to survey and dialogue with a significant element of Bloesch’s theology. Everything from Bloesch’s relationship to Barth on understanding Scripture to his role as a social prophet is surveyed.

The highlight of this book was the last chapter in which Bloesch himself responded to his various dialogue partners. He wrote responses to each of them with honesty and grace. Often times his responses were as profound as what you would find in his own works. Take, for example, his response to Weborg on the role of doubt in theology:

Weborg gives a more positive role to doubt in the Christian life than is evident in my writings. From my perspective doubt has its origin in sin, though it may be used by the Spirit to promote the deepening of faith. We are justified even while we are still in sin and tormented by doubt, but Christ gives us the power to combat both sin and doubt. In the Christian walk we can make progress against both of these maladies. Doubt is not something to be celebrated but something to be overcome. Weborg might be uncomfortable with this phraseology (202).

Intelligent and devout theologians ought to bring out the best in each other. That is certainly the case with this volume.

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