Saturday, November 18, 2006

Review Part 6: The Drama of Doctrine

Some concluding reflections

Vanhoozer has given us a fresh way of looking at theology. His theo-dramatic approach reminds us that the purpose doctrine is to enable the church to perform the Scriptures. The work is both up to date and faithful to the Biblical principles of Reformed Theology. Vanhoozer enables us to grapple with the complexities of the postmodern situation with sensitivity and integrity. Here is a fine example of a multidisciplinary approach to theology as the writer draws on Biblical, Systematic and Historical Theology, literary theory and dramatics. He gives welcome emphasis to the church as a company of players directed by her pastors to play her part in the unfolding theo-drama.
On the negative side, although Scripture is quoted throughout book, there is little sustained exegesis of texts. For example, while reading Part 4, I expected that Vanhoozer would explain what it means for us to play our roles "in Christ" Biblically. My mind raced ahead to Romans 6 and I hoped for some sustained reflection on the passage. He did get there, but not to linger long.
The work sets out an new approach to doctrine rather than being a systematic theology in its own right. You will not find much on justification, the final resurrected state etc. Vanhoozer has criticised the cognitive-propositional theological method of Charles Hodge. He clearly regards such an approach as inadequate. But I am left thinking, what would a full-length canonical linguistic systematic theology look like? Perhaps now that the writer has has given us his theo-dramatic proposal we can eagerly await such a work from his pen.
For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle [Greek, theatron] to the world, to angels, and to men. (1 Corinthians 4:9)
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