Who wasn’t intimidated the first time they cracked Calvin’s Institutes, Schleiermacher’s Christian Faith, or Barth’s Dogmatics? Unlike Biblical Studies or History, Theology often does not have specific material reference points around which its ideas converge. But it does have conceptual reference points.
Mapping Modern Theology, just issued by Baker Academic, takes advantage of those key reference points in order to orient readers to theological development in the modern era. Bruce McCormack, who orients the book’s discussion in his essay On “Modernity” as a Theological Concept, notes the significant shift that occurred in modernity that, perhaps, only now as we enter the late-modern period we are beginning to come to terms with fully. McCormack states:
‘Modern’ theology emerged, in my view, at the point at which (on the one hand) church-based theologians ceased trying to defend and protect the received orthodoxies of the past against erosion and took up the more fundamental challenge of asking how the theological values resident in those orthodoxies might be given an altogether new expression, dressed out in categories for reflection. It was the transition, then, from a strategy of “accomodation” to the task of “mediation” that was fundamental in the ecclesial sphere. In philosophy, as it relates to the theological enterprise (on the other hand), the defining moment that effected a transition entailed a shift from a cosmologically based to an anthropologically based metaphysics of being.
Read Bruce McCormack’s full essay
“On Modernity as a Theological Concept“
McCormack, along with Kelly Kapic, lead a list of contributors who are not only experts in the field, but who are helping redefine the topics they have written on in this book. Each presents classical theological issues within the context and trajectory of modern thought noting how its new categories has influenced how we understand these topics. Each writer is broadly evangelical.
- Fred Sanders on “The Trinity“
- Stephen R. Holmes on “Divine Attributes“
- Daniel J. Treier on “Scripture and Hermeneutics“
- Katherine Sonderegger on “Creation“
- Kelly M. Kapic on “Anthropology“
- Bruce L. McCormack on “The Person of Christ“
- Kevin J. Vanhoozer on “Atonement“
- John Webster on “Providence“
- Telford Work on “Pneumatology“
- Richard Lints on “Soteriology“
- Brian Brock on “Christian Ethics“
- Richard R. Osmer on “Practical Theology“
- Veli-Matti Kdrkkdinen on “Ecclesiology“
- Michael Horton on “Eschatology“
It is my experience that most Modern Theology courses focus on the developments in the Enlightenment that gave the impetus to this field–and quite rightly so. However, we also need to trace the affect of the new ways modernity has impacted theological discussion on specific topics and this book accomplishes that goal. It bring a step closer to not only understanding someone like Barth or Schleiermacher, but also understanding how their framework impacted the way they, and consequently we, talk about theology.