Tuesday, 12 June 2012

New Review of Enlightened Evangelicalism

Yesterday, I received the latest issue of Eighteenth-Century Scotland, the newsletter of the Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society. The journal that the ECSSS puts out features a few articles and a number of book reviews. In the current spring 2012 issue, William Smith, a graduate student in history at Notre Dame, has written a very nice review of Enlightened Evangelicalism: The Life and Thought of John Erskine.

I appreciated how Smith thoroughly summarized the book. This is not always the case in book reviews, which sometimes leads one to wonder if the reviewer has actually read the book. Smith has clearly read the whole of the book and understood what I was attempting to argue. The review is almost entirely favorable, but in the final paragraph he did criticize me for not providing enough context to Erskine's life. I must agree with Smith on this assessment. If I had to write the book over again, I would have provided better contextualization and background to the culture in Scotland and colonial America.

Here is a taste of the review:

It has been nearly two hundred years since someone published a biography of the now little-known Scottish pastor and theologian, John Erskine. Overshadowed by some of the monumental figures of eighteenth-century evangelicalism, including George Whitefield, John Wesley, and Jonathan Edwards, Erskine has gone underappreciated. But now, Jonathan Yeager in a well-researched "life and thought" shows why Erskine should be regarded as one of eighteenth-century Scotland's most important intellectual forces. Yeager places Erskine at the center of the transatlantic evangelical movement, showing him to be not only a capable thinker in his own right but, more importantly, a "disseminator of enlightened evangelicalism." In particular, Erskine emerges as a figure who combined fervent commitments to Calvinist orthodoxy, evangelicalism, and Lockean epistemology into a coherent theological system.

 Many thanks again to William for his kind remarks.

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