Thielicke’S Theology

The Evangelical Faith, Vol. 2, by Helmut Thielicke (Eerdmans, 1977, 477 pp., $13.95), is reviewed by Stephen M. Smith, Ph.D. candidate, Claremont Graduate School, Claremont, California.

In the second of three volumes of his systematic theology, the well-known German professor covers many crucial issues such as the nature and source of revelation, natural theology, the personality of God, the Trinity, and law and Gospel. In the second part of this volume he focuses on God the Son, the form of revelation. Here he discusses faith and history, the place of paradox, the value of the creeds, and the role of the three traditional offices of Christ: prophet, priest, and king.

Many such books orient the reader to the subject by discussing the history of the issue, presenting options, introducing key figures, and reciting dates. Thielicke does not. He presupposes some rudimentary knowledge of theology. For example, we have no separate discussion of the current study of New Testament Christology or an analysis of the history of the creeds. What we have is a Futheran theologian, who is not however in the tradition of scholastic orthodoxy, bringing his rich heritage into dialogue with the nineteenth-and twentieth-century liberal (Schleiermacher), philosophical (Hegel, Tillich), and existential (Bultmann) theology. Thielicke draws from the writings of men like Luther, Kierkegaard, and Martin Kähler.

This is theology done explicitly from the perspective of the person in Christ. Natural reason has been turned in on itself; it must be converted or “radically reoriented by revelation” lest it become hardened. God can only be known in his free act, his word in Jesus Christ. Faith cannot contemplate itself and gain knowledge; ...

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