An Evangelical Systematic Theology

Essentials of Evangelical Theology, Vol. 1: God, Authority and Salvation, by Donald G. Bloesch (Harper & Row, 265 pp., $12.95), is reviewed by Paul D. Feinberg, associate professor of philosophy of religion and systematic theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois.

In his many writings, Donald Bloesch has distinguished himself as a leading spokesman for evangelical theology. Thus, it is with no small interest that his two-volume theology is received. Essentials of Evangelical Theology is precisely what the title implies: a survey of the central questions in evangelical theology, with no effort to deal exhaustively with any one subject of theology. In volume 1 the areas of God, authority, and salvation are treated.

Bloesch dismisses certain stereotypes or misconceptions that outsiders may have of evangelicals, then attempts to specify very clearly the roots of his theology. He affirms the primacy of the biblical norm, but makes it clear that his understanding of theology is within the Reformed tradition and heavily dependent upon certain thinkers within the Catholic tradition—a point which may surprise some readers. He often calls his theology an evangelical catholic theology.

The doctrine of God is dealt with under the general rubric of the sovereignty of God, and such traditional topics as the attributes of God, the decree, and trinitarianism are all discussed. This section closes with an excellent treatment of the erosion of the biblical view of God. Bloesch shows how philosophy—process philosophy in particular—and secularism have combined to leave our culture with an emasculated view of God.

In a chapter entitled “The Primacy of Scripture,” Bloesch affirms the divine ...

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