Theology as Retrieval: Receiving the Past, Renewing the Church

Gavin Ortlund | July 21, 2015

Theological retrieval—broadly defined as the effort to draw on the church’s historical theology and practice for contemporary constructive purposes—is increasingly in vogue these days, particularly in the fields of historical and systematic theology. There’s a burgeoning body of literature in this this field, with significant names like John Webster and Kevin Vanhoozer and Oliver Crisp providing leadership and direction.

Now in Theology as Retrieval: Receiving the Past, Renewing the Church, David Buschart and Kent Eilers (professors of theology at Denver Seminary and Huntington University respectively) offer the first comprehensive, book-length treatment of theological retrieval as a contemporary movement.

What Retrieval Looks Like in Practice

Theology as Retrieval shares many similarities to Michael Allen and Scott Swain’s Reformed Catholicity: The Promise of Retrieval for Theology and Bible Interpretation, a book published several months prior that offers a specifically Reformed account of retrieval [review]. But the two books are also helpfully complementary. While Swain and Allen go into greater depth on theological issues involved in the nature of retrieval (e.g., the meaning and implications of sola Scriptura), Buschart and Eilers, by focusing on six different “typologies” of retrieval, provide an overall sense of what it looks like in practice. Reformed Catholicity, that is to say, offers us more…

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