North American Evangelicalism also has been fomenting for the past several decades over issues such as the inspiration and nature of Scripture, Open Theism, and gender relations—for example, women in ministry. Two trajectories have emerged in these debates—conservative and postconservative. Millard Erickson, Wayne Grudem, and Bruce Ware stand for the conservative approach. Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Clark H. Pinnock, and Roger E. Olson represent the postconservative movement.3 My work identifies with the postconservative group within North American Evangelicalism. However, the more conservative Reformed figures within the movement are the primary dialogue partners of this project.
Even though this book speaks from the perspective of evangelical theology, through its historical, ecumenical, and constructive character it also seeks to engage a broader theological audience. The historical, ecumenical, and constructive elements are crucial for contemporary theology. The historical part is important because effective theology listens to the “great cloud of witnesses” by turning its ear to the traditions of Christian theology (Heb. 12:1). In recent years, Evangelicals have become more explicit about their reliance on their own traditions and desirous to mine more ancient historical sources. Representing the recovery of tradition in evangelical theology are Thomas Oden’s three-volume presentation of “paleo-orthodoxy” and support of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series, D. H. Williams’s Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism: A Primer for Suspicious Protestants, Robert Webber’s Ancient-Future Faith: Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World, and Roger Olson’s advocacy of “The Great Tradition.”4 The Emergent Church movement’s recovery of ancient and liturgical worship rites represents the pastoral side of the evangelical interest in the Christian traditions.
One of the goals of this book is to participate in and to contribute to the recovery of traditional sources in evangelical theology. It does so by drawing on the theology of Jonathan Edwards and the more ancient Augustinian trinitarian tradition. Interest in Edwards is, of course, not new among Evangelicals. Evangelicals frequently turn to Edwards’s writings on free will and divine providence, religious affections, and