Posts in the category “Book Reviews.”

December, 2006

The Rise of Evangelicalism

Posted Friday, December 08, 2006 by Charlie Trimm
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Mark Noll has written a fascinating book on the early history of evangelicalism. It is the first book in a projected five book series. The third book, the Dominance of Evangelicalism is out and the second is due out next year, while the other last two are for the distant future apparently. Noll's book covers the time of Edwards, Whitefield and the Wesleys.

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May, 2007

Sarah Edwards

Posted Sunday, May 13, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
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I recently read an excellent book about Sarah Edwards, the wife of Jonathan Edwards. The book helps to give a picture of the home life of the Edwards and what kind of people they were. My wife and I identified very well with their situation and personalities as we reflected on our own personalites and traits. But she said that I still could not dismiss myself from the dinner table to go read when guests were present even though Jonathan did so!

But the main point I got from the book was not one that was intended (a little reader response criticism here). While the Edwards did not lose any infants, they did lose several of their children before they died. And Edwards himself died just after starting his new job at Princeton (imagine what he might have done had he lived a few more years!). The last chapter was about the descendents of the Edwards and showed a picture of a family reunion in 1870 (or so), with several hundred people in attendence, all directly from Jonathan and Sarah. But the obvious truth hit more to me: all of these people are now dead. Usually this doesn't have great force for me (I read about people who are dead all the time), but for some reason it really reminded me that I cannot forget what is important. As I go to Wheaton and study for  PhD and hopefully begin my career, that is not the ultimate importance of my life. Even my family, as I watch my little girl grow up, is not the central theme. My relationship with God must be what is foundational. There might be a day when I lose the ability to think. There might be a time when I lose my family. But my foundation for life needs to be built on relationship with God.  

Of course, maybe this is all just coming to mind because I am almost 30! 

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August, 2007

NT Wright

Posted Friday, August 03, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
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I have finally gotten around to my final post on the Borg/Wright book. Sorry to all two of you who were waiting! My main thought is just about NT Wright. He is an excellent writer and theologian. He seems to me like a new CS Lewis. The parallels between them are numerous. Both are Brits and very Anglican. Both are excellent writers and prolific writers. Both are beloved by evangelicals and both are certainly not evangelical. Both help people realize that they can be Christian and leave their brain at the door. I think that I need to continue to read more Wright. Maybe you all will hear more about Wright here in the future.

Lewis had some very odd views once you got deep into his writings, and Wright is parallel with that. Wright, for example, has fellowship with Borg, which is certainly not something I would do, and does not believe in the Second Coming. It’s not just that he is not premillennial, he does not believe in a second coming, period.

There are differences, of course, between them. Lewis is a literary critic and Wright is a theologian. We should no more expect Lewis to write massive theological tomes than Wright to pen children’s fiction. Because of their respective backgrounds I think that Lewis is a better writer, but Wright a better theologian. But both are well worth reading!

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September, 2007

Cambridge Companion to Christian Doctrine

Posted Saturday, September 08, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
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Since I am an OT guy, most of my reading is in biblical studies and not theology, and the theology that I do read tends to be written by evangelicas. This book was an eye opener for me and not quite what I expected. Since the book covers Christianity in very broad strokes, I was expecting a not very helpful work with which I would disagree on every page. While there were some points that this was true, there was much good material in the book. I've included an extended review below, but here are a few of the essays.

Vanhoozer's chapter on human beings was my favorite in the book (Vanhoozer is quickly becoming one of my favorite theologians). He focuses upon humans as communicative beings, as a way to avoid being focuses too much upon either essence or action. This communication is based upon the Trinity.

Colin Gunton has an excellent chapter on creation. While I would not pick creation to be one of the top eight doctrines, he does a great job showing its importance. He makes the startling claim that the current ecological crisis is not the fault of Christianity, but of atheism, since they do not view the world as being created by God.

One chapter began arguing for the continuing relevance of the OT promises to the Jews, a conclusion with which I was very surprised. Did a dispenstationalist sneak in? Well, it turned out not to be the case, becuase the chapter ends with a call to stop evangelizing Jews becuase they are all saved anyway.  

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October, 2007

Cambridge Companion to Evangelical Theology

Posted Saturday, October 06, 2007 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Book Reviews   Comments: 1
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The posting has been slow recently becuase life has been getting busy. I haven't been doing any writing, so I have little to show what I have been doing, but the amount of reading that I am doing is simply enormous. Some of the books will have reports written on them, so some of them might make it on here in the future. I'm also doing a fascinating project for Daniel Master (for whom I TA) making a list of all the times Ashkelon is mentioned anywhere up until about 1900. He wants the list since he is the dig director for Ashkelon. But not only is there the reference, there is also a paragraph context needed. So I am putting my search skills up for a serious test trying to find the random Egyptian papyrus and Crusader conquest testimony. But it is quite interesting.

 The review included here is for another volume in the Cambridge Companion series: Evangelical Theology. They define evangelicalism much more broadly than I am used, a trend that is becoming familiar to me at Wheaton. In the past I have associated evangelicalism with ETS: inerrancy. But a phrase that seems almost a technical phrase is used on occasion here: "big-tent evangelicalism." This includes non-inerrantists as well as inerrantists. There are some interesting articles here, including another fine piece by Vanhoozer. The strength of the book is its world-wide focus and so it is helpful to understand what is going in the rest of the world. 

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