Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology

By Moore, Russell D. | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, March 2003 | Go to article overview

Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology


Moore, Russell D., Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology. By Gregory A. Boyd and Paul R. Eddy. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002, 287 pp., $18.99 paper.

Perhaps no figure in contemporary evangelical theology is more controversial than Gregory Boyd, the prolific and passionate advocate of a "reformist" evangelicalism that embraces-among other things-open theism, evangelical feminism, and a reformulation of the doctrine of eternal punishment. In this volume, Boyd, pastor of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, teams up with Bethel College theologian Paul Eddy to lay out the various positions of debate in evangelical theology. Boyd and Eddy argue that this volume takes a "liberal arts" view of theology, in which the instructor seeks less to advocate a position to his students than to "broaden students' minds by helping them empathetically understand a variety of perspectives while training them to think critically for themselves" (p. 6).

In so doing, Boyd and Eddy take up issues of longstanding debate within evangelical theology, such as the Calvinist/Arminian divide over predestination, the age of the earth, baptism, the millennial views, and the continuation or cessation of charismatic gifts. They also analyze more fundamental disagreements such as whether God fore-knows the future, whether Scripture errs, and whether explicit faith in Christ is necessary for salvation. The methodology of the volume is consistent, as the authors present the various viewpoints on each topic, followed by possible objections to the view presented and relevant responses to the objections. In the presentation of each view-point, Boyd and Eddy seek to argue like an advocate of the position in order to reduce the temptation to caricature any position. Because the authors see so many questions at dispute in evangelical theology, one book is not enough to hold them all. They include an Internet address at which the reader may find an appendix addressing issues ranging from infant salvation to the timing of the rapture to the question of whether wives should submit to their husbands.

This book succeeds at many of its goals. The volume serves as both a concise and a comprehensive treatment of the doctrinal issues at stake. The authors display a keen understanding of the nuances within varying positions on a stunning array of theological points of debate. For instance, Boyd and Eddy explore at length the philosophical and doctrinal implications of the nature of the divine image. They also include the often overlooked-or too quickly dismissed as an outdated "gap theory"- "restoration" model of creation, which they rightly see as worthy of evangelical reconsideration.

The book also is yet more confirmation that there are few theologians in the contemporary context who are more skilled than Boyd at engaging and captivating communication of ideas-often to the chagrin of many of us who find some of his positions subversive to the church. The book therefore avoids a systemic flaw of many of the current "four views" books on theological disputes-namely, the problem of a skilled writer on one side of the question debating a less equipped opponent. The authors' "debating" their own arguments neutralizes the possibility of such a frustration. …

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