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A Higher Throne: Evangelicals and Public Theology

By Chris Green
November 2008 | Review by Geoffrey Grogan
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • ISBN: 978-1844742776
  • Pages: 208
  • Price: £12.99
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Book Review

The staff at Oak Hill Theological College have produced several fine theological symposia, and they have not been afraid of controversy. This volume deals with issues of important practical bearing not often aired by evangelical writers.

They reject the idea that political theology and consequent action are a distraction from ‘the real work of the gospel’ and they introduce us to stimulating evangelical writers, past and present.

Chris Green writes the introduction, and then Daniel Strange explores the relationship between Christianity and culture; evangelism and social action; the two kingdoms and transformational models. Drawing insights from Dutch theologians who refused to separate sacred and secular, he encourages us to think and then act Christianly in our society.

Kirsten Birkett expounds the resurrection ethics of Oliver O’Donovan. Christ’s resurrection consummates the kingdom and renews creation, so uniting kingdom and creation ethics. In Christ, Christians experience through the Spirit an anticipation of the coming age as new people in the old creation, called to a life of love informed by wisdom.

David Field looks at Samuel Rutherford’s Lex Rex, which argued from Scripture that kings are the servants of God’s law, and that if they become tyrants Christians may take up arms against them. Rutherford argued for a covenanted Christian nation or confessional state.  Field says, ‘Evangelical defeatism in matters of public theology is a failure of biblical and historical perspective’, and he robustly contends for a confessional state – not a popular idea today.

Garry Williams’ very interesting chapter, ‘Gabbatha and Golgotha’, argues that the penal substitutionary nature of the atonement required Jesus to be ‘crucified under Pontius Pilate’. This was the grossest travesty of justice perpetrated by human beings, but was at the same time the act in which, in the gracious design of God, Jesus was treated as a criminal so that we might be judicially declared righteous in him.

This book is not an easy read, but is well worth the effort. It made me think hard, and it will do the same for you. It may make you think about other issues on which Evangelicals have not always agreed, such as the proper relationship between church and state. It ends with a forthright sermon by David Field.

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