The Barnabas Ministry
Book Review

Across The Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology
By Gregory A. Boyd and Paul R. Eddy (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI. 2002). 287 pages, with additional appendix information on publisher's website.

Across the Spectrum is a survey of issues in contemporary evangelical theology. Useful both in content and manner of presentation, it discusses various perspectives of the following theological topics of interest (various views discussed are in parentheses):

  1. The Inspiration Debate (Inerrantist, Infallibilist)
  2. The Providence Debate (Calvinist, Armenian)
  3. The Foreknowledge Debate (Classical, Open)
  4. The Genesis Debate (Young Earth, Day-Age, Restoration, Literary Framework)
  5. The Divine Image Debate (Substantival, Functional, Relational)
  6. The Human Constitution Debate (Dichotomist, Trichotomist, Monistic)
  7. The Christology Debate (Classic, Kenotic)
  8. The Atonement Debate (Penal Substitution, Christus Victor, Moral Government)
  9. The Salvation Debate (Calvinist, Armenian)
  10. The Sanctification Debate (Lutheran, Calvinist, Keswick, Wesleyan)
  11. The Eternal Security Debate (Eternal Security, Conditional Security)
  12. The Destiny of the Unevangelized Debate (Restrictivist, Universal Opportunity, Post-Mortem Evangelism, Inclusivist)
  13. The Lord's Supper Debate (Spiritual Presence, Memorial)
  14. The Baptism Debate (Believer's Baptism, Infant Baptism)
  15. The Charismatic Gifts Debate (Continuationist, Cessationist)
  16. The Women in Ministry Debate (Complementarian, Egalitarian)
  17. The Millennium Debate (Premillennial, Postmillennial, Amillennial)
  18. The Hell Debate (Classical, Annihilationist)
In addition, the following topics are available via the Internet in a PDF document:  appendix:
  1. How Should Evangelicals "Do" Theology? The Theological Method Debate
  2. The Psychological and Social Models of the Trinity
  3. Was Noah's Flood Global or Local?
  4. Must Wives Submit to their Husbands?
  5. Christians and Politics: Three Views
  6. What Happens to Babies Who Die?
  7. The Debate of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit
  8. Is Speaking in Tongues the Initial Evidence of Receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?
  9. Can a Christian be Demonized?
  10. The Debate over the Book of Revelation
  11. Has Jesus Already Returned? The Preterist Debate
  12. When Will Jesus Return? The Rapture Debate.

One might notice that this isn't a "systematic theology" type of presentation. This book isn't intended to be a systematic theology, nor does it put the various topics in perspective in terms of importance or significance. The objective is to give the reader an introduction to issues that are currently in varying degrees of dispute or discussion within evangelicalism.

Each topic is discussed with a standard type of presentation. First, the relevance of each topic is demonstrated with a simple real-life example. Then the various points of view for each topic are shown with key Scriptural and historical arguments. Objections to each view are also discussed and answered. In addition, each "debate" has a bibliography for further reading. The book also includes a glossary of relevant theological terms and a Scripture reference.

Each of the views are discussed in a straightforward, even-handed and objective manner. If the authors have any personal preferences on any of the views, the readers certainly won't know it. Boyd and Eddy succeed at presenting these views in such a manner to educate the readers in an unbiased manner, informing them on the fundamentals of each view and laying the foundation for further study.

Sometimes, we're tempted to think that our personal beliefs, the stated beliefs of leaders or church confessions are the "right" belief on a given topic. This book helps us realize that others have other beliefs, and that there are rational reasons for those beliefs. Certainly many of the "views" presented are mutually exclusive and cannot all be right-- but the point of the book is to inform and educate and help the reader have a better understanding of all of the other views.

I have always thought that it is important for Christians to understand the beliefs of others. Through understanding the beliefs of others, we cannot help but benefit. Accordingly, I recommend Across the Spectrum as a readable, informative look at the theological topics presented.

Copyright © 2003 John Engler. All rights reserved.

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