Puritan theologian. However, theology misunderstands and ultimately does not honor the past heroes of the faith by simply repeating their theologies. It honors them and emulates them when it does what they did. They brought the Gospel to bear on their world and proclaimed what it meant to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ in their day. The contemporary and contextual focus of theology does not mean that theology ignores the insight of the Christian traditions. On the contrary, the tradition instructs Christian thinkers on the ways in which those who have gone before them sought to give credible witness to Christ and to the central ideas that give shape to the narrative of Christian redemption.
Recognizing and accepting the dynamic nature of theology is difficult. I am reminded of a conversation I had with a professor at one of the most prominent evangelical seminaries in the United States. He pronounced that the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformers and the seventeenth-century codifiers of Protestant Reformation theology had basically said everything that needs to be said. And, the task of contemporary theology is to put their expressions into a contemporary idiom. Although I share his admiration of the sixteenth-century Reformers and the Herculean intellectual efforts of the Protestant Scholastic theologians, modern people do not live in sixteenth-century Wittenberg or Geneva. The social world of the Reformers has long since passed. Theology must speak to the issues that confront Christians today. To accomplish its contemporary task, theology listens to and respects the contributions of the past, but it is not constrained by them.
Attentive to the contextual nature of theology, this book is a constructive effort in evangelical theology. Although the constructive segments (chapters 5 and 6) focus on evangelical theology, the intention is that the trinitarian theology and its implications for Christology, pneumatology, grace, and the theology of religions will have broad interest to Christians from diverse theological backgrounds. Based on the historical analysis and ecumenical dialogue of chapters 1 through 4, the final two revise two areas of evangelical theology. These are (1) the nature of redemption and (2) the theology of religions. Let me express the reason for the focus on these two theological issues.