ESSENTIALS OF EVANGELICAL THEOLOGY: Vol. II: Life, Ministry, and Hope by Donald G. Bloesch


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Not for the faint-hearted: a formidable conclusion to a magisterial profession of faith. Bloeseh is a seminary professor (U. of Dubuque), a moderate conservative of encyclopedic erudition, and a clear, incisive writer. He sets out to construct a ""historically informed and theologically profound"" synthesis of evangelicalism, and in some ways he succeeds triumphantly. Drawing on a vast array of sources, he presents an evangelical (or Reformed) perspective on nine major themes: regeneration, scriptural holiness, preaching, the priesthood of believers, the two kingdoms (God's and Satan's), the mission of the Church, the personal return of Christ, heaven and hell. Bloesch seems to have read every Christian theologian, Greek or German, Catholic or Protestant, living or dead, and he bolsters his position with hundreds of apt quotations and references. He refutes contrary opionions with the self-assured authority (he uses the editorial ""we"" throughout) and hair-splitting precision of a medieval controversialist. But that's just where his problem lies. This oracular, disputatious tone would be fine in an age of faith; at a time when orthodox Christians need all the friends they can get it sounds rather out of place. Provided they have authentic faith, how much does it matter that Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglo-Catholics, and high-church Lutherans are guilty of the heresy of sacramentalism, i.e., believing that grace is given ""automatically even to those who cannot yet make a response in faith""? Still, this two-volume treatise (the first appeared in June) is so solid and carefully worked out that it has the makings of a minor classic. Required reading for clergymen and seminarians.

Pub Date: Feb. 21st, 1978
Publisher: Harper & Row