INVITATION TO DOGMATIC THEOLOGY: A CANONICAL APPROACH. By Paul C. McGlasson. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2006. Pp. 284. $24.99, ISBN 10:1-58743-174-2; ISBN: 13: 978-1-58743-174-6.
Pastor and former seminary professor, Paul McGlasson, is no newcomer to the world of theological publication, having already published a number of notable works, including:
In this latest offering, Invitation to Dogmatic Theology, McGlasson presents a case for how and why theology must consciously serve the church’s ministry, and particularly its preaching. Well aware of the issues that continue to plague not only the discipline of doing theology, but also those of the wider church, McGlasson, leaning on Karl Barth, boldly reminds us that theology’s task has long been, and must continue to be, the proclamation of God’s action in Christ in the power of the Spirit.
The book consists of five parts: (i) The Authority of Scripture, (ii) The New World of God, (iii) Proclamation, (iv) The Trinity, and (v) The Divine Imperative. Building on Brevard Childs’ insights on the primacy of canon, McGlasson seeks to show why and how biblical studies and dogmatic theology need to inform one another as they share the task of ‘expounding scripture for the church, though in different but complementary ways’ (p. 27). McGlasson argues that dogmaticians need to begin where biblical scholars end, trusting that the latter have done their homework in providing a basic orientation to the true nature of the Scriptures. For more on this topic, see my posts on Biblical critics and dogmaticians in dialogue here and here.
McGlasson makes assumptions and draws conclusions that not all would agree with, and possibly some of his claims are overstated. However, McGlasson is seeking to raise many of the right questions, and he does so in a manner that is always respectful, fair and generous to those with whom he is in disagreement. The book would be considerably enhanced by the inclusion of an index.
A modified version of this review is to be soon published in Religious Studies Review, after which the definitive version will be available from Blackwell Synergy.
Like McGlasson, I have a passion for Brevard Childs. Nevertheless, it looks as if I’ve taken something quite different from Childs to McGlasson, at least as far as preaching is concerned. McGlasson, backed by Childs in the forward, seems to feel that the expository sermon is the best means of “actualizing” God’s word in the present. I actually came away from Childs’ work with the feeling that a thematic approach to preaching is more appropriate.