Richard Lints is the Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He has written numerous other books, but here has edited a collection of essays that were originally talks at the Renewing The Evangelical Mission conference (2009). According to the website, this conference, honoring David F. Wells, “will grapple with the theological mission of the church in an increasingly post-Christian, post-partisan and global context.”
Specifically, the questions considered by speakers/contributors were:
- How do global realities impact the historic mission of evangelical theology?
- What sense can be made of the unity of evangelical theology in light of its many diverse voices?
- How can/should evangelicals relate to the Great Tradition and also speak in the vernacular of global culture?
More specifically, the focus is on the work that Wells did as part of an extended research project that resulted in the following books:
- No Place For Truth: Or Whatever Happened To Evangelical Theology?
- God In The Wasteland: The Reality of Truth In a World of Fading Dreams
- Losing Our Virtue: Why The Church Must Recover It’s Moral Vision
- Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ In A Postmodern World
- The Courage To Be Protestant: Truth-Lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in The Postmodern World
The latter book is a distilled summary of the arguments in the first four, so if you’re super curious, pick that one up. It has no footnotes, because as Wells explains in the introduction, his documentation is in the earlier books.
Anyway, I was intrigued, and ended up buying all the above books, so maybe I’ll tell you about it in more detail at a later date.
As for this volume, it is perhaps going to be most interesting to readers who like theology and to retain their voice in a postmodern landscape. Cornelius Plantinga’s contribution explains the contribution of David Wells and how his own book, Not The Way It’s Supposed To Be, as well as Noll’s The Scandal of The Evangelical Mind, form a trio with Well’s first book (in the list above). I’ve known about Wells, but only superficially engaged with him. That’s all about to change after reading this.
I found the essay by J. I. Packer on catechesis particularly interesting and I’ve posted on it elsewhere. Additionally, the essay by Kevin Vanhoozer is pure gold. Focusing on the theological interpretation of Scripture, KJV offers ten theses, which Justin Taylor actually blogged about way back when the conference actually happened. I won’t rehash that here, but just say that like most of what Vanhoozer writes, it’s a joy to read. He definitely knows how to use his allusions.
Beyond these essays, interested readers will find the contributions of Horton (on ecclesiology), McCormack (on Christology), and Os Guiness perhaps most interesting (I did at least). On the whole, this collection of essays provides much food for thought for thoughtful evangelicals concerned about engagement in the public square. Though the essays are drawn from a conference that was 4 years ago, you might not necessarily know it by freshness the evince. If this is a topic that interests you, it’s a definitely a book to put on your shelf (and of course read at some point).
Visit the publisher’s page
Thanks to Eerdmans for the review copy!