Christian Dogmatics: Reformed Theology for the Church Catholic
edited by michael allen and scott r. swain
baker, 416 pages, $36.99
Reformed Catholicity: The Promise of Retrieval for Theology and Biblical Interpretation
by michael allen and scott r. swain
baker, 176 pages, $21
In his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, John Henry Newman famously claimed that “to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.” Since the kind of Christianity that we encounter in the first millennium of church history is certainly not Protestantism, according to Newman (“if ever there were a safe truth, it is this”), Protestants have no choice but to dispense with history and try to form “a Christianity from the Bible alone.”
The contributors to the anthology Christian Dogmatics: Reformed Theology for the Church Catholic beg to differ. They argue that being “deep in history,” far from presenting an obstacle, is a precondition for a fully Reformed Christianity. The way to a renewal of Reformed theology goes through a retrieval of “the catholic and Reformational heritage of the church,” which includes the ecumenical creeds, the confessions of the Protestant Reformation, and the writings of the Fathers and the medievals.
The methodological foundation for this ambitious project was laid in another recent book written by the anthology’s editors. In Reformed Catholicity: The Promise of Retrieval for Theology and Biblical Interpretation (2015), Allen and Swain presented “a programmatic assessment of what it means to retrieve the catholic tradition on the basis of Protestant theological and ecclesiological principles.” The volume Christian Dogmatics can be seen as an answer to their call for a Reformed ressourcement.