"Handbook Of Evangelical Theologians," edited by Walter A. Elwell (Baker, xii + 465 pp.; $29.99, hardcover). Reviewed by David W. Bebbington, reader in history, University of Stirling, Scotland.
What theologians write in one generation, preachers declare in the next. It is therefore invaluable for preachers (and their hearers) to be able to discriminate among theologians, to know the parameters of their thought, to understand what made them tick. The latest addition to the Baker Reference Library enables them to do just that.
Each article in the "Handbook of Evangelical Theologians" contains the basic biographical information about a particular theologian together with a summary of the main points of his published writings. In the preface, editor Walter Elwell outlines his criteria for selection, including identification with evangelicalism and significant influence on the evangelical movement; a balance between pre- and post-1950 thinkers; and representation of diverse denominational points of view. As Elwell notes, "There might be legitimate discussion about some theologians who have not been included in this volume, but we doubt that many would exclude those who have been included." Here then are studies of 33 of the minds who have done most to mold twentieth-century evangelicalism in North America.
All the essays are, on balance, favorable to their subjects, though some are warmer than others. Sometimes the appreciation is by a committed disciple; in other instances, the author stands back from the theologian to subject his work to more rigorous appraisal, which is usually the more helpful approach.
Occasionally the writers have been tempted to exaggeration. Is it plausible to say that Cornelius Van Til was "perhaps the ...1
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