Crossing the Threshold of Hope, by John Paul II (Alfred A. Knopf, 244 pp.; $20, hardcover). Reviewed by Ashley Woodiwiss, professor of political science
at Wheaton College, Wheaton Illinois.
These are troubling times within American evangelicalism. Mark Noll and David Wells, among others, have identified intellectual and theological pathologies within the community that threaten its long-term vitality and spiritual strength. At the same time, and perhaps in response to these conditions, a number of well-known evangelicals have hit the road to Canterbury, Rome, and Antioch. In recent months, talk of strengthened alliances between American evangelicals and Catholics has created controversy in both communities.
In this context, the publication of Pope John Paul II's Crossing the Threshold of Hope is most timely. While the book does not resolve the historic differences between the Protestants and Catholics, many evangelicals will welcome it as a morally courageous and theologically compelling statement. Three themes within Threshold are particularly pertinent to the reinvigoration of evangelicalism: John Paul's robust account of the human person, his approach to evangelism, and his ecclesiology.
These themes are interwoven throughout the pope's responses to the 35 questions posed for him by the volume's editor, Italian journalist Vittorio Messori. The answers are wide-ranging, usually short and to the point, and cover such topics as the papacy, theological questions concerning the Trinity, salvific history, the place of evil and suffering, the variety of religions, signs of God's work in the world, and the world's response to Catholic teaching.
(A caveat for those encouraged by Knopf's prepublication hype to expect a book that is ...1
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