Carl R. Trueman
Reviewed by: Calvin D. Keller
Date posted: 10/16/2005
The Wages of Spin, by Carl R. Trueman. Published by Christian Focus Publications, 2005. Paperback, 192 pages, list price $17.99. Reviewed by OPC pastor Calvin D. Keller.
The Wages of Spin is a witty, insightful collection of essays that address weaknesses and disturbing trends in modern evangelicalism, along with a few articles critiquing some works of historical theology. Written by Carl Trueman, associate professor of church history and historical theology at Westminster Seminary, it will resonate with many OP pastors and church members who share his convictions on the authority of the written Word and the importance of doctrine. But you will also find some provocative comments and material for healthy self-criticism.
In the first few articles Trueman exposes several trends in contemporary evangelicalism that have made the work of the church more difficult. In the opening article, "Reckoning with the Past in an Anti-Historical Age," he addresses the "aversion of modern men and women to tradition and history as a source of wisdom and even authority." Then, in "The Undoing of the Reformation," he traces the shift in culture away from a focus on written words to a focus on visual images. He argues that it is "possible to interpret the theological impact of the Reformation of the sixteenth century as, from one perspective, a recovery of the biblical centrality of words."
In his essay on "Theology and the Church: Divorce or Remarriage?" Trueman analyzes what he describes as a breach between theology and the church. Here he deals with an important issue in the OPC today, namely, the relationship between the seminary (academy) and the church. He challenges the academy to be more church-oriented and the church to be more theologically informed. The chapter is well thought out and helpful.
Along with essays dealing with issues and trends in modern evangelicalism, there are several that deal with issues of historical theology. Although not easily accessible to the uninitiated reader, these articles will give the reader a greater appreciation for theologians such as B. B. Warfield, Charles Hodge, and even Martin Luther. The reader will also come away with a better understanding of the richness of the doctrines of Scripture and the Incarnation.
The second part of the book is a collection of six short articles that deal with various aspects of the church's life and ministry. Of particular interest are two articles dealing with the worship songs of the church and the place of biblical theology in the church. Although I personally disagree with his conclusions in the latter, Trueman brings many important concerns to the table.
The book is broad in its discussion of theology. However, within this broad collection there is much material to stimulate good thinking. Trueman reminds us of the importance of systematic theology, church history, creeds, and, above all else, the authoritative Word of God.