Richard C. Gamble
Reviewed by: Everett A. Henes
Date posted: 02/02/2020
The Whole Counsel of God, vol. 2: The Full Revelation of God, by Richard C. Gamble. P&R, 2018. Hardcover, 1,144 pages, $40.50 (Amazon). Reviewed by OP pastor Everett A. Henes.
This is the massive second volume of a planned three-volume work by Dr. Richard C. Gamble. The first volume worked through prolegomena and the Old Testament. Volume 2 picks right up with a look at God’s revelation in the New Testament age, weaving together biblical, historical, systematic, and practical theologies. Here there is a New Testament introduction, which puts the authors and books in their historical settings. This section also includes a chapter on the intertestamental period, as well as an explanation of methodology. Gamble provides an orthodox and accessible statement of the Reformed view of Scripture. Throughout the main body of the work there is not a lot of argument or interaction with opposing views. Footnotes, which are legion, are where the reader would look for such interactions.
Parts 2 through 5 are united under “God’s Mighty Acts” as the work moves through the doctrines of God, Jesus Christ, the atonement for sinners, union with Christ, and the church. Part 5 is a biblical “Philosophy of Life” that includes an explanation and defense of the Van Tilian presuppositional apologetic.
Given the scope of the work, there is the necessary bird’s-eye view of theology. But, what many will find useful is that the author often swoops down to exegete important Scripture passages. This is probably the strongest and most endearing aspect of the work. For instance, under the discussion of the extent of Christ’s atonement there is an analysis of John 3:16. Consideration of union with Christ leads to a lengthy discussion of Romans 6–7, complete with a wrestling through the question of whether Romans 7 is unregenerate or regenerate Paul. Familiar passages are examined (Eph. 2:1–10) as well as not so familiar ones (Revelation).
The work is written accessibly, and includes a list of key terms and study questions at the end of each chapter, making it useful for a theological discussion group or Sunday school class.
No theology is written without certain presuppositions, and Gamble’s work is no exception. He teaches at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, which is the denominational seminary of the RPCNA. This comes through, clearly, in his discussions of Christ’s mediatorial kingship and of song in worship. After discussion of Christ’s role as king, and Paul’s words in Romans 13, Gamble asserts, “Any state that has not sworn allegiance to Christ is immoral” (520). Elsewhere he acknowledges the tension that exists in the Christian life as we live in the “already but not-yet” as regards Christ’s fully consummated kingdom.
When it comes to song in worship, Gamble argues that singing “as an Old Testament type” is fulfilled in Christ, along with the rest of the ceremonial laws and trappings associated with tabernacle and temple worship, such as musical instruments (829). Singing is then reinstituted, in the New Testament, by apostolic command but without instrumentation. The songs commanded, as Gamble explains it, are the psalms and only the psalms. With these two particular views known in advance, OPC readers will be less surprised by the author’s conclusions.