The Cambridge Companion to Christian Doctrine, edited by Colin E. Gunton (Cambridge University Press, 307 pp; $59.95, hardcover; $18.95, paper). Reviewed by Elmer M. Colyer, assistant professor of historical theology at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary.
The Cambridge Companion to Christian Doctrine is the first book in the series Cambridge Companions to Religion. Colin Gunton, one of the most important theologians in the United Kingdom today, has assembled an impressive array of essays by an equally significant cadre of authors. Gunton notes in the preface that it is a propitious moment for this volume, since Christian doctrine is no longer in the "doldrums," marginalized by the "apparent victory" of modernity. Indeed, it is no coincidence that the term postmodern and its variants are sprinkled throughout the book, signaling the massive cultural shift that has made the particularity of the Christian tradition a persuasive point of departure.
The two-pronged aim of the book is to "develop the promise inherent" in this "changed intellectual situation . . . and at the same time to provide an introduction for students and others of some of the central topics of theology." The tension between these two intents, however, tends to cast the book somewhat at cross purposes and undermines its conceptual and organizational clarity. The new reader or nonspecialist would be well advised to shift the order of the essays and, after reading Gunton's excellent introduction to Historical and Systematic Theology (chap. 1), turn immediately to the more introductory chapters of part 2 on the Content of Christian Doctrine. Within part 2, Geoffrey Wainwright's elegant essay on the Holy Spirit should be read before Robert Jenson's chapter ...1
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