It is easier to recognize a good book than a significant book. A significant book is one that helps make history. A work of theological import is one that helps to make church history. That is, a theological book can, in some way influence preaching. Perhaps to mark certain books of a year just past as significant is a daring enterprise; one can only make a considered guess as to those which are most likely to be of influence in the future.

What follows, then, will be a sampling of books, as likely as certain others, to achieve the status of significance. I have chosen some of them because they represent new statements by authors whose achievements are already notable. Others I have chosen because they give a hint of changing perspective within a given school of theological conviction. And a few books will be mentioned simply because they are especially good. My selections are from Protestant theology, written in English, and with strong emphasis on American publications.

Barth On Election

Undoubtedly the most significant publication of the year was the excellent translation of Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics, Volume II/2. T. and T. Clark in England and Scribners in the United States have published this volume, and it contains Barth’s treatment of “The Election of God” and “The Command of God.” For an understanding of Barth, this is a crucial book, inasmuch as divine election in his thinking is the substance of the Gospel, and it is of this subject that he says he was “driven irresistibly to reconstruction” of traditional statements.

According to Barth, election makes God what he is. It is as true to say that God is what he is because of his election, as it is to say that election ...

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