THE COMING GREAT REVIVAL: Recovering the Full Evangelical Tradition by William J. Abraham

THE COMING GREAT REVIVAL: Recovering the Full Evangelical Tradition

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A lucid, measured, suggestive reading of current evangelical theology. Abraham, a Methodist minister who teaches both philosophy and theology at Seattle Pacific U., comes from Northern Ireland via Oxford--with an outsider's perspective that may help explain the acuity of his judgments. In a dry, but effective fashion he argues that just when American (and British) evangelicalism has achieved intellectual respectability--with institutions like Fuller seminary, journals like Christianity Today, and spokesmen like Bernard Ramm, E. J. Carnell, and Carl Henry--it is collapsing theologically because it remains too attached to its fundamentalist roots. The clearest example of this is the doomed attempt by evangelicals to rescue the hoary old (unscriptural) doctrine of biblical inerrancy. But Abraham faults practically all of evangelical systematic theology as narrow and defensive--in fact, he dismisses its much-acclaimed summa, Carl Henry's God, Revelation, and Authority (1976-83), as ""over three thousand pages of turgid scholasticism."" Instead of trying to capture Christianity within such a rigid conceptual frame, Abraham urges evangelicals to acknowledge that they belong to an ""essentially contested tradition."" Hence they should stress ""right relationships with God and with each other"" over pseudoscientific orthodoxy. More specifically, he proposes a return to the irenic evangelical spirit of John Wesley and the ""Wesleyan quadrilateral,"" an open system relying on scripture, reason, experience, and various traditions. If evangelicals can broaden their heritage, then Abraham foresees a ""great revival,"" but he's not as confident as his title sounds. In any case, with his cogent thesis and his engaging literacy (he quotes George Eliot and Edmund Gosse against the hidebound), Abraham will have attentive, appreciative readers.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 1984
Publisher: Harper & Row