Reformed Theology In America: A History of Its Modern Development, David F. Wells, Editor; Grand Rapids, Michigan, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 3 17 pp. (paper) $19.95. [Reviewed by Prof. H.C. Hoeksema]
This is a very interesting book. Perhaps the title is somewhat misleading, because the name “Reformed” is taken in a very broad sense. Grouped under it are the Princeton theology, Westminster Calvinism, the Dutch schools, Southern Reformed thought (Presbyterian), and Neo-orthodoxy. Each section is made up of a chapter of analysis of the tradition and chapters on two leading theologians of each tradition.
Because of the diversity of authors, there is a wide variation in the quality and style of the various sections. I will not attempt to summarize the five sections. Just a few comments:
1) I found the sections on the Westminster School (introduced by W. Robert Godfrey) and the Southern Tradition (introduced by Morton Smith) to be very interesting and, perhaps, the most accurate.
2) In my opinion, the section on Neo-orthodoxy does not belong in a book of this kind.
3) The analysis of the Dutch Schools by James D. Bratt is marked by some of the same shortcomings, inaccuracies, and faults as is his book, Dutch Calvinism in Modern America. Henry Zwaanstra’s presentation of Louis Berkhof, while informative, is probably too favorable. And why Herman Dooyeweerd and the Dooyeweerdian movement in North America received a place in this section of the book I will never understand. Dooyeweerd, whatever his significance may be, surely cannot be classified as a “leading theologian” of the Dutch school in North America.
4) I found James M. Boice’s analysis of “The Future of Reformed Theology” in America to be too irenic and too optimistic.
But read the book for yourself. It is worthwhile.