While Pacific Northwest cities frequently rate at the top of charts when it comes to being un-churched, they simultaneously rank exceedingly high in terms of the number of churches per capita. For example, Seattle ranks #2, nationwide, in terms of the number churches per capita, as well as ranking #2 in terms of the percentage of residents who are religiously unaffiliated. Such statistics suggest that the problem in the Pacific Northwest is not a dearth of churches. Rather, the issue seems to be that the churches we do have are dying.
Writing as evangelicals, the authors of “Theology and the Mirror of Scripture” work to answer the question “What is evangelical theology today?” not primarily socially or historically, but rather theologically, in the form of a manifesto.
This book began as a “search for clarity” regarding the “commonalities and differences between Roman Catholic and evangelical Protestant theology with reference to the Reformation.” (13) Finding no extant resource adequate to this task, the authors elected to put together the volume under review. While the topic of this book is timely (considering the upcoming 500th anniversary of the Reformation), the question is whether what is offered here achieves its stated goal.
It is the tension between belief and experience that Portland, Oregon-based pastor, professor, and author A.J. Swoboda explores in A Glorious Dark. In it, a means of navigating between these poles is identified: hope. And yet, Swoboda does not offer this as a huckster’s panacea, but rather, as a sincere solution – one characterized more by grit than gloss.
For a theologian, it is refreshing to find biblical scholars who are vested in the notion that Scripture ought to be read as something more than simply an ancient text. Indeed, those participating in the Seminar, on the whole, possess a deep conviction that the Bible is a book to be read in and for the benefit of the church – and that identifying Scripture’s proper ecclesial habitat in no way eviscerates scholarly endeavors concerning the text, but rather empowers them.