Tuesday, 26 June 2012

New Review of Enlightened Evangelicalism in the Westminster Theological Journal

I'm on vacation with my family at Carolina Beach, NC, enjoying the sand and surf with my wife and kids (the surfing conditions could be better though). I recently read a new review of Enlightened Evangelicalism in the spring 2012 edition of the Westminster Theological Journal by Kenneth J. Stewart. I must admit that I have been anxious about Ken's review ever since he emailed me several months ago stating that he would be reviewing my book. Some of his past reviews have been seasoned with a bit more salt than I am accustomed to reading. That being said, Ken's review of Enlightened Evangelicalism is quite favorable overall. His final paragraph reads:

Clearly we are in Jonathan Yeager's debt. His chosen subject is one that should provoke us to think afresh about the appropriate stance for Reformed theology now, situated as we are in a new period of cultural and intellectual upheaval. We should not miss, either, the role played by this influential Scot as the encourager and enabler of others.

Ken did go after me on two of my chapters: "The Enlightened Preacher" and "The Enlightened Theologian." Some of his criticism on the structure and prose of the chapters are fair (he says that my "Enlightened Preacher" chapter, for instance, is a "heavy going" "paraphrastic tour of Erskine's preaching), but I think that it should be pointed out that judgments on these two chapters have varied, depending on the interests of the readers. Historians who do not often venture into the dangerous waters of writing about theology have commended these chapters as helpful in articulating evangelical thought in the eighteenth century. Roger L. Emerson is touching up an article on Scottish history in which he cites my book--and these chapters in particular--as giving a good overview of Scottish evangelical theology. I also remember David Bebbington pleased with the addition of these theological chapters in the thesis. As a theologian, Ken has higher expectations on theological writing than other scholars. Nevertheless, I think that I could have summarized more succinctly the information in these chapters and worked more diligently at providing greater insight into the theological implications of Erskine's arguments. Reading reviews of one's work can be humbling, but it can also be a useful in alerting authors to areas of weakness that can be strengthened in future projects.

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