Book Review

Spring Book Preview

Noah J. Frens
Ephraim Radner
Saturday, January 1st 2022
Jan/Feb 2022

All Thy Lights Combine: Figural Reading in the Anglican Tradition
Edited by Ephraim Radner and David Ney

Lexham Press | January 2022 | 304 pages (hardcover) | $32.99

Recent years have seen a growing interest by Protestants in what has been variously called the “theological” or precritical reading of Scripture that has centered around a theological retrieval of previous and neglected avenues of biblical interpretation. Often these works detail ways of reading the biblical text that are not strictly “literal” but often involve figurative or even allegorical readings of a text. This present monograph is much needed and fills a lacuna. The current body of scholarship tends to draw deeply from either patristic sources or the magisterial Reformers, notably Luther and Calvin, and around a narrower range of topics, such as Christology or covenant theology. This volume focuses on a specific tradition (the Church of England) over a broader chronology (from William Tyndale to C. S. Lewis) and touches a range of topics (from law to ecclesiology), and so promises to be a welcome addition to the current precritical hermeneutics scholarship.

The Knowledge of God: Essays on God, Christ, and Church
By Michael Allen

T&T Clark | January 2022 | 192 pages (hardcover) | $115.00

The Fear of the Lord: Essays on Theological Method
By Michael Allen

T&T Clark | January 2022 | 208 pages (hardcover) | $115.00

Over the last decade or more, Allen has placed himself as one of the most interesting and engaging Protestant dogmaticians writing today, as the essays in these collections will no doubt evidence. I have always appreciated his ability to deftly weave together multiple disciplines—from theology to church history to exegesis—into an informative and coherent project. In this respect, Allen reminds me of the late John Webster, about whom Allen has written quite a bit in recent years. Anyone interested in the doctrine of God and theological method will want to pick up these volumes.

Calvin’s Ecclesiology: A Study in the History of Doctrine
By Tadataka Maruyama

Eerdmans | May 2022 | 480 pages (hardcover) | $65.00

The topic of Calvin and ecclesiology has long interested scholars, though most of this work has tended to be done by social historians interested in the societal impact of Calvin’s ecclesial reforms in Geneva (e.g., the work of Robert Kingdon or Scott Manetsch). Substantially less work has been done on theological contour and development of Calvin’s ecclesiology doctrines. With the vast body of literature on Calvin and widespread interest that he and ecclesiology have garnered over the years, I was amazed that no monographs had yet appeared that elucidate the theological shape of his ecclesiology, tracing its development over the various periods of his life. Tadataka Maruyama has filled this gap with his new book. Having written a similar, meticulous study on the development of Beza’s ecclesiology, Maruyama seems well situated as a scholar to produce this study. The work looks to be an excellent addition to the body of Calvin scholarship and Reformation views of the church.

You Are Gods: On Nature and Supernature
By David Bentley Hart

Notre Dame Press | April 2022 | 162 pages (paperback) | $25.00

The relationship between the natural and supernatural, or nature and grace, has had a significant place in the periphery of nearly every theological book that David Bentley Hart has written, and I am glad he is finally coming out with a book-length treatment of the topic. Outside of a few Anglicans or neo-Calvinists, contemporary Protestants rarely make use of the categories of the natural and the supernatural. But twentieth-century Catholicism had many rancorous disputes on how to understand these concepts. On the one side were the so-called Manual Thomists (e.g., Réginald Garigou Lagrange, et al.) and on the other were those who followed the Ressourcement Thomism (e.g. Henri de Lubac, et al.).

Various movements of the past two decades, however, have revived the dispute (see especially the works of Lawrence Feingold and Steven A. Long). In previous writings and discussions on the topic, Hart, in his typical acerbic tone, has made it well known that the revival of a Manual Thomist view of nature and supernature is one of the greatest theological travesties of this century. Though debates about nature and supernature may seem pedantic and highly abstract at times, how one conceives of the relation between the two affects nearly every area of soteriology. As Hart’s previous writings have sketched, his understanding of nature and supernature undergirds his conception of universal salvation as well as how he understands theosis, both of which I am sure he will discuss in this book.

Though not everyone appreciates Hart’s rhetorical style, to say the least, I find in reading him never a dull moment. Even when I often find myself holding completely opposite opinions, I always come away from him having thought through my own views in greater detail.

Other Works

Reformed and Evangelical across Four Centuries: The Presbyterian Story in America
By Nathan P. Feldmeth, S. Donald Fortson III, Garth M. Rosell, and Kenneth J. Stewart
Eerdmans | January 2022 | 360 pages (paperback) | $29.99

The Trinity: On the Nature and Mystery of the One God
By Thomas Joseph Whit, O.P.
Catholic University of America | March 2022 | 632 pages (paperback) | $34.95

Calvinism for a Secular Age: A Twenty-First-Century Reading of Abraham Kuyper’s Stone Lectures
Edited by Jessica R. Joustra and Robert J. Joustra
InterVarsity Press | February 2022 | 250 pages (paperback) | $28.00

Church History for Young Readers
By Simonetta Carr
Reformation Heritage Books | June 2022 | 272 pages (hardcover) | $35.00

Noah J. Frens is a graduate of Calvin College (philosophy) and Westminster Seminary California (MAHT) and is currently a PhD candidate in the history of Christianity at Vanderbilt University.

Saturday, January 1st 2022

“Modern Reformation has championed confessional Reformation theology in an anti-confessional and anti-theological age.”

Picture of J. Ligon Duncan, IIIJ. Ligon Duncan, IIISenior Minister, First Presbyterian Church
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