Always Reforming

Always Reforming: Explorations in Systematic Theology

A.T.B. McGowan

Apollos, 2006   £19.99pb     368pp

This collection contains ten very stimulating and meaty papers on some perennial issues for theology and the church and what the future holds for them. The Reformed church must continue to uphold the Reformation maxim, Semper reformanda—we are always in need of being reformed, and yet this must not be used as an excuse to drift either into a departure from received orthodoxy or into a rigid confessionalism. The authors of these papers therefore assess the state of scholarship in various areas of theology (more impressionistically than scientifically), scrutinise them afresh in the light of scripture, and suggest areas where further development and clarification may be needed. They thus set an agenda for the future for the rest of us to ponder and work towards. Gerald Bray begins by looking at the doctrine of the Trinity and the explosion of interest here in the last few decades. He encourages future Trinitarians to work hard specifically at the biblical foundations of the doctrine, but to do so with an increased awareness of the ecumenical relations and potentials of Trinitarian theology. Beginning with some infamously dismissive comments about systematic theology from Charles Simeon (which he rightly criticises at points), Stephen Williams looks at the future of  ‘system’ itself. McGowan looks at penal substitution, there is some provocative thinking from Henri Blocher on covenant theology and Dick Gaffin on union with Christ, and Derek Thomas examines ecclesiology. Other contributors include Kevin Vanhoozer, Robert Reymond, and Cornelius Venema. Stimulating surveys to kick-start further thought.

This review first appeared in Churchman 126.2 (2012).

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