Evangelical Theology in Transition: Theologians in Dialogue with Donald Bloesch
Reviewed by Robert P. Mills, has his eye on the relevance of theology for the mission of the gospel.” He praises “the studied fidelity of Bloesch to the gospel” and approvingly notes that “Bloesch maintains against both mystical and scholastic theology that while we cannot reach God by ourselves, God himself comes to us, addressing us in his Word.”
Yet Torrance expresses concern with some of Bloesch’s writings on the Trinity, at one point asking “Does he not here lean too much to the notion that the doctrine of the Trinity is the product of theological reasoning?” and at another observing “Here I could have wished that he had taken into account the fact that the very concept of ‘person’ originally derived from the doctrine of the Trinity.”
Torrance ends his essay with an appreciation for Bloesch’s God the Almighty, calling it “a very powerful and welcome contribution to contemporary theology, and not least to evangelical theology, for it is more and more clear that a distorted conception of God lies behind the problems of many Christian people and churches today.”
Presbyterians looking for a model of theological dialogue would be hard pressed to find a better example than Avery Dulles’ “Donald Bloesch on Revelation.” Dulles, a Jesuit who has done significant work on this topic, notes the many places in which he and Bloesch are in almost complete agreement. Yet, as one would expect, Dulles also points to places where he finds Bloesch’s understanding of the doctrine problematic. I found this essay the highlight of a highly profitable book.
In the book’s final essay, Bloesch briefly responds to each writer. He is as unfailingly gracious as they have been, noting areas of agreement as well as responding gently to criticisms.
Bloesch observes, “The goal of my writing and teaching has been to build bridges between various evangelical positions in the search for evangelical and catholic unity in the church today. This book is a modest step toward overcoming the barriers that continue to divide biblical Christians.”
To be sure, the theological chasms between Presbyterians stretch far wider than those dividing evangelicals. Nonetheless, Evangelical Theology in Transition could prove a useful resource not only for evangelical Presbyterians, but for all who wish to engage in substantive theological dialogue.