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Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism (Counterpoints)

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Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism compares and contrasts four distinct positions on the current fundamentalist-evangelical spectrum in light of the history of American fundamentalism and evangelicalism.

Each contributor defines evangelicalism, locates his view in historical context, and discusses how he understands Scripture and its authority. To illustrate the differences, each addresses the three issues recently contested within evangelicalism:

  • The question of Christian cooperation illustrated by Evangelicals and Catholics together and the Manhattan Declaration
  • The question of doctrinal boundaries raised by open theism, a debate that has shaken denominations, schools, and the Evangelical Theological Society in the 1990s and 2000s
  • Penal substitutionary atonement—a key doctrinal issue related to the gospel

Each author explains his position, which is critiqued by the other three authors. The interactive and fair-minded nature of this format allows the reader to consider the strengths and weaknesses of each view and draw informed, personal conclusions.

Resource Experts
  • Compares and contrasts four positions on the current evangelical spectrum
  • Defense of each position on the spectrum of evangelicalism
  • Addresses three contemporary issues

Top Highlights

“First-level theological issues are most central and essential to the Christian faith. These include the Trinity, the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, justification by faith alone, and the authority of Scripture.” (Page 78)

“An evangelical is recognized by a passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ, by a deep commitment to biblical truth, by a sense of urgency to see lost persons hear the gospel, and by a commitment to personal holiness and the local church. In any event, this is what we should hope to recognize as authentically evangelical.” (Page 69)

“The fundamental unity of the church is invisible and intangible. It is an inward unity that comes with belief in the gospel.” (Page 23)

“Outward unity, however, can be enjoyed only where inner unity already exists. In sum, unity is always a function of what unites. Fellowship always involves something that is held in common. The quality of the thing held in common determines the quality of the fellowship or unity. The thing that is held in common by all Christians—the thing that constitutes the church as one church—is the gospel itself. Belief in the gospel is how people follow Jesus. Belief in the gospel is how people are Spirit-baptized into the one body. Consequently, the gospel is the essential ground of all genuinely Christian unity. Where the gospel is denied, no such unity exists. Even the most minimal Christian unity depends on common belief in the gospel.” (Page 23)

“To be sure, the most desirable Christianity would be one in which all believers agreed at all points of the whole counsel of God. Anything less than this perfect fellowship and unity is an evil, but it is less of an evil than a contrived or enforced unity. To force believers to violate their consciences is worse than erecting separate organizations in which all believers are free to obey God according to their best understanding.” (Page 36)

Collin Hansen (MDiv, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is an editorial director for the Gospel Coalition. Formerly an associate editor for Christianity Today, he is the author of Young, Restless, Reformed and coauthor with John Woodbridge of A God-Sized Vision. He has written for Books & Culture, Tabletalk, Leadership, and Christian History & Biography. He has appeared as a commentator on Fox News, and his work has been featured in Time magazine.

Andrew David Naselli (PhD, Bob Jones University; PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is a research manager for D. A. Carson and an administrator of the journal Themelios. He has taught New Testament Greek at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and he currently teaches exegesis and theology as adjunct faculty at several seminaries. He is the author of Let Go and Let God? A Survey and Analysis of Keswick Theology.

Kevin Bauder (DMin, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; PhD, Dallas Theological Seminary) is past president of and a current research professor of systematic and historical theology at Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Minneapolis. He is a general editor of One Bible Only? Examining Exclusive Claims for the King James Bible.

R. Albert Mohler Jr. (PhD, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), is the president and Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of several books, including Words from the Fire: Hearing the Voice of God in the 10 Commandments, and is a contributor to Is Hell for Real: Or Does Everyone Go to Heaven?

John G. Stackhouse Jr. (PhD, University of Chicago) is Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology and Culture at Regent College. He is the author or editor of eleven books, including Making the Best of It: Following Christ in the Real World. He is a former president of the Canadian Evangelical Theological Association.

Roger E. Olson (PhD, Rice University) is a professor of theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University. He is the author of many books, including Questions to All Your Answers: The Journey from Folk Religion to Examined Faith, Reformed and Always Reforming: The Postconservative Approach to Evangelical Theology, and How to Be Evangelical without Being Conservative.


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