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670 BOOK REVIEWS The Doctrine ofRevelation: A Na"ative Interpretation. By GABRIEL FACKRE. EdinburghStudies in ConstructiveTheology. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997. Pp. x + 230. $25.00 (paper). ISBN 0-8028-4336-0. The Doctrine ofRevelation belongs to the Edinburgh Studies in Constructive Theology series, whose professed aim is to transcend confessional differences, and to do theology as such, rather than theology according to a particular ideological slant or theology co-opted by some other discipline. Fackre's book was originally meant to be part of a multivolume work on systematic theology. The introduction argues for the virtues of a narrative interpretation of revelation. After a prologue that attempts to describe the grounding of revelation in the Trinitarian nature of God, the exposition roughly follows the course ofsalvation history. It begins with creation, continues through the Fall, the covenant with Noah, the covenant with Israel, Christ, the Scriptures, the Church, salvation, and final eschatological consummation. The discussion of these issues is carried on partly through a dialogue with important twentiethcentury theologians in which Fackre summarizes their views on the aspect of revelation being discussed and lists the good and bad points of these views. Thus P~ul Tillich is discussed in connection with the covenant with Noah, Karl Barth with Christ, Carl Henry with the inspiration of Scripture, Karl Rabner with the Church. Fackre's intent is to give an account of revelation that draws upon and harmonizes with the broad stream of Christian tradition. He criticizes theologians like Rosemary Radford Ruether andjohn Hickwho reject this broad stream, and looks favorably on theologians who are in agreement with it; he has good things to say about Carl Henry and his support of propositional revelation. The purpose and to a great extent the conclusions of this book are to be applauded. However, despite numerous goodfeatures that indicate the author's talent as a theologian, the book is not a success. The level of the material is often more suited to an introductory book than to a full theological treatment of revelation. Entering into conversation with important twentieth-century figures does not lend itself to such a treatment. These figures are a heterogeneous group, and a survey of their views does not necessarily provide a natural way of approaching the issues that are important to an account of revelation, or give complete coverage of these issues. This contributes to the most serious failing of the book, which is that these important issues are often not addressed or clearly discussed. An example is Fackre's 'narrative theology'. When he talks about a narrative theology of revelation, does he mean that the content of what is revealed is a narrative, a narrative about the history of salvation? Or, that revelation consists in a narrative being given by a narrator (or narrators)? Or, that revelation is, or can be discerned from, events in history that form part of a narrative whole? Or some or all of these things together? It is very difficult to discover the answers to these questions in reading the book. The search for such answers is made more difficult by BOOK REVIEWS 671 Fackre's writing in "theologian-ese" that is often obscure and that grates upon the ear (e.g., p. 39, "God in sovereign freedom is Free to be Together"). The question of what is to be understood by grace is not addressed at all. Nor are the questions of why grace is needed for belief, how it enters into belief, what exactly is the belief that is involved in faith, what are the rational grounds (if any) for believing, or what is the connection between apologetics and belief. Fackre could respond that answers to these questions depend on positions whose discussion belongs to a later stage in his systematic theology. But this legitimate point cannot efface the fact that a consideration of these questions is essential to a proper account of revelation. One is left wondering whether a discussion of revelation should be the starting point for a systematic theology. Theologians often assume that it should, perhaps because they have at the back of their mind the idea that since we have to believe that...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 670-672
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-05
Open Access
No
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