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    Entries in John Stackhouse (1)

    Saturday
    Aug252012

    Short Book Review :: Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism

    Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology) is an important book for evangelicals and non-evangelicals alike. Zondervan should be applauded for this project.

    I found this book informative and instructive. As the reader might expect, four contributors were asked to write essays representative of four diverse strands within evangelicalism, with each essay being followed by a response from the other three contributors. This review will not focus on the specific arguments of Kevin Bauder (Fundamentalism), Albert Mohler (Confessional), John Stackhouse (Generic), and Roger Olson (Postconservative). Instead, I will keep my comments more general, and more brief.

    The contributors were instructed to focus their essays on three concerns within evangelicalism: Christian cooperation (i.e., Evangelicals and Catholics Together and the Manhattan Declaration), views on doctrinal boundaries (i.e., open theism and the Evangelical Theological Society), and the gospel, with a focus on penal substitutionary atonement.

    Each author focuses on these issues to varying degrees, so do not expect a fully developed treatment of each issue within each essay, but instead expect each argument to focus on the issue deemed central and vital by that particular author. Mohler and Bauder focus more energy on the gospel itself, and the accompanying doctrinal boundaries that should come to define true evangelicalism. Stackhouse and Olson focus on cooperation within the movement itself, and the doctrinal basis for evangelicalism's diversity.

    The essays shed light, and generate heat. Each author illuminates the views associated with their perspective, and often generate critique or highlight friction points between their own approach and that of their fellow evangelicals. Thus, I found each essay instructive and challenging in its own right, and the ensuing response essays helped to underscore differences as well as points of agreement. This book represents dialogue and conversation well done among those with a common commitment to Christ, and an honesty concerning the differences that exist among evangelical Christians. In that respect, it is an edifying work, clarifying and building up, convincing and persuasive. My own views on evangelicalism align most closely with that of John Stackhouse, though I found myself appreciating Bauder, Mohler, and Olson as well.

    If you wish to learn more about evangelicalism, this book will help.