Building on the Foundations of Evangelical TheologyIt is not every day that a scholar is an honored as much for his scholarly work as he is for his dedication to his family. One might think of the late B.B. Warfield who is known for his academic work and yet gave his wife constant care as she suffered from the effects of a thunderstorm during their honeymoon. One such contemporary scholar is John S. Feinberg.

Feinberg is a professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he has been since 1991. He has taught and lectured at numerous schools and has published a number of standard works like Ethics for a Brave New World (Crossway, 2nd Ed. 2010), Can You Believe It’s True?, and No One Like Him: The Doctrine of God (Crossway, 2001) which is part of the Foundations of Evangelical Theology series of which he is the editor. These three books alone speak to Feinberg’s ability to speak well in the areas of ethics, apologetics, theology, and philosophy; a rare combination.

In honor of Feinberg’s work as a premiere evangelical scholar Gregg R. Allison and Stephem J. Wellum have brought together a stellar cast of John’s friends and past students to produce Building on the Foundations of Evangelical Theology: Essays in Honor of John S. Feinberg (Crossway, 2015). The contributions are divided into three sections which center Feinberg’s work around the idea of a building: Designing the Architecture, Setting the Foundations, and Erecting the Superstructure of Evangelical Theology.

Due to Feinberg’s concentration in philosophy and biblical and systematic theology, the essays delve into either related subjects upon which he touched or interacting directly with positions he took on various issues. Virtually all of the essays are interesting in their own right, especially Stephen J. Wellum’s essay on kenotic theories, Keith E. Yandell’s essay on the trinity, John F. Kilner’s essay on bioethics, and Kevin J. Vanhoozer’s essay on doctrinal development.

One of the things readers will notice throughout the book is Feinberg’s adeptness at interacting not only with theology but philosophy as well. His ability to speak and interact authoritatively with both makes him a potent champion for his position, whether one agrees with him or not. This applies to a host of issues he has tackled ranging from the theology of hermeneutics to ethics.

Further, Feinberg is not afraid to deviate from the majority traditional view of things if he believes it is not biblical. One such issue is addressed by Keith Yandell on the Feiberg’s view of the trinity. Working from Feinberg’s book No One Like Him, Yarnell addresses his position that the traditional understanding of the eternal generation of the Son and eternal procession of the Spirit are not warranted by Scripture (151). Feinberg’s essential argument is that the terms like “sharing”, “proceeding”, and “begetting” imply the wrong thing before one is able to state what they believe they are rightly intended to communicate. That the Father shares with the Son and Spirit His divinity does not mean the Father gives them something they do not already possess (divinity) but that they all possess it; they equally have, or share, God’s divinity. Feinberg does not think it is necessary to use these confusing terms to accurately and faithfully communicate what Scripture teaches about the equal divinity of Father, Son, and Spirit. I think at the end of things Feinberg does not provide a satisfactory susbstitute for how evangelical Christians ought to discuss the threeness and oneness of God but I don’t think he has denied the fundamental beliefs of the trinity either. One will have to read the chapter and his No One Like Him to decide for themselves if he has accomplished his goal.

Building on the Foundations of Evangelical Theology contains a great cast of honorary essays and will have something for all who are interested in Feinberg’s work. Feinberg might rightly be called a sleeping giant of evangelical theology. He has not enjoyed the kind of limelight that others have but his work has had the same kind of lasting impact. Readers will also be delighted to know that the royalties of the contributors are going directly to the Huntington’s Disease Society of America which does research on the disease Pat Feinberg has battled for years.

I received this book for free from Crossway for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Advertisements