The Rise And Fall Of Modern Theologies
A Handbook of Contemporary Theology,by David L. Smith (Bridgepoint/Victor, 416 pp.; $19.99, hardcover);20th Century Theology,by Stanley J. Grenz and Roger E. Olson (InterVarsity, 393 pp.; $19.99, hardcover). Reviewed by Christopher A. Hall, who teaches biblical and theological studies at Eastern College in Saint Davids, Pennsylvania.

The academic community typically views—and sometimes caricatures—evangelical theologians as parochial or poorly educated, as mean-spirited, obscurantist, or reactionary. (Of course, “liberal” thinkers are no more immune to these alleged flaws than conservatives.) The perception lingers that evangelical scholarship is conducted in a cultural, historical, philosophical, and theological vacuum. Two books have recently appeared that should help dispel this caricature by showing conservative theologians who interact with and respond to the complex, intriguing, and occasionally infuriating world of twentieth-century theology.

The first is David L. Smith’s A Handbook of Contemporary Theology, which provides a solid presentation of major trends in modern theology. Smith, a professor of systematic and historical theology at Providence Theological Seminary in Otterburne, Manitoba, divides his book into two main sections: the first focuses on mainstream theological systems such as fundamentalism, neo-orthodoxy, post-Vatican II Catholicism, and Eastern Orthodoxy; the second section analyzes less widely known and accepted movements, including the theology of hope, process theology, the theologies of success, third-wave theology, liberation theology, and the theology of the New Age. Because Smith has purposely chosen to cover such broad terrain, his synopses are necessarily ...

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