From our little isolated outpost in Arlington, VT I have been feeling the pinch of not being close to a serious seminary library for the purpose of research. We already keep our local library busy ordering loan books for pleasure reading, I can’t hit them up for library loan books on theology.
So I have to suffer and purchase brand new theology books. The one I’m most excited about is The Cambridge Companion to Evangelical Theology. The book appealed on a number of levels. Cambridge series is consistently excellent, as the essays are always short, well-written, and full of information. For my purposes the collection of contributors is diverse (as in race, gender, and culture) and focused on the issues of evangelical theology in our changing world, rather than a group of stodgy American theologians trying to defend the ground won against liberals in the days of the Bible wars. Dare I use the word relevant?
A number of the essays address evangelical theology from various global perspectives, the very thing I’m working on in chapter nine of my little theology book. Last night I read about African and Latin American theologies.
In the Latin American section C. Renee Padilla writes of Latin American theology, “one of the most significant contributions of this movement to the cause of God’s Kingdom has been a rich body of literature in which the mission of the church is viewed in terms of integral mission–a mission that maintains the unity between justification by faith and the struggle for justice, between faith and works, between spiritual needs and material and physical needs, and between the personal and social dimensions of the gospel” (269).
Padilla cuts through the dichotomies in theology that pit works against faith and social justice against individual salvation. There is no doubt that Latin American theology can lean too heavily toward the social Gospel or even revolutionary ideology at times, but I really like the corrective it provides to American theology. I can’t help thinking that some combination of North and South American theologies could be really good for the church in America.