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Minority Report: Unpopular Thoughts on Everything from Ancient Christianity to Zen Calvinism

By Carl R. Trueman
July 2008 | Review by Dennis Hill

Synopsis

Theological essays are dusty, humourless affairs aren't they? Well, they don't have to be! This is the second collection of essays by Carl Trueman. His first collection was received with the enthusiasm. This time Chick Lit, Adolf Eichman, the i-pod, Francis J. Beckwith, the Blues, Watership Down, American Idol, Nietzsche, zen-calvinism, Augustine and ferrets(!) all get a mention.

  • Publisher: Mentor
  • ISBN: 978-1845503178
  • Pages: 224
  • Price: £7.98
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Book Review

Trueman has a fresh style and sometimes a fresh perspective on theological and cultural issues critical for the future of the church. He is Professor of Historical Theology and Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary – in an age, he feels, that does not value history.

There are 19 essays offering ‘unpopular thoughts on everything from ancient Christianity to Zen-Calvinism’. It is a companion volume to his The wages of spin and most of the material first appeared in his online column (www.reformation21.org). The book holds you, though occasionally he assumes too much knowledge on the part of the average reader.

There is variety, but there are also recurring themes – such as the problems of postmodernism and consumerism and a ‘trans-denominational evangelicalism’ that is short on doctrine.

‘Death, the Final Boundary’ was thoughtful and moving. ‘It ain’t over till the fat lady sings’ (his review of Mark Noll’s book Is the Reformation over?) is very good. But in spite of his rejection of Roman Catholic errors, he concludes that Evangelicals who can’t affirm some Protestant doctrines, or who are just not sure, should go back to Rome (pp. 99, 147-48, 168). In this he may be underestimating the errors of Rome.

Carl hopes his essays demonstrate that ‘the old orthodoxies of the Christian faith do not need to be stuffy, pompous, out-of-date’, etc. His essays do that, but his humorous style sometimes leaves you wondering how seriously to take some comments – does he really have a ‘compulsive need for almost constant rock music’?

I recommend reading this book. There is something very likeable and refreshing about it, and a bit challenging at the same time – even if, like me, you don’t agree with everything he says!

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