Review – “Christology: A Guide for the Perplexed” (Spence)

(The following review will appear in the next issue of Barnabas).

Alan Spence, Christology: A Guide for the Perplexed (London/New York: T&T Clark, 2008); x + 174 pages; ISBN: 978-0-567-03195-2.

Christology is a daunting subject – its history and theology paint a complex picture. Thankfully, Alan Spence offers readers an able introduction. His work is a good contribution to the “Guide for the Perplexed” series.

Spence, the author of a study of John Owen’s Christology, is well qualified to introduce his subject. He traces Christology from the church’s response to gnosticism, through Arianism, to the issues surrounding Chalcedon. He studies Owen’s unique understanding of the Spirit and Christ’s humanity, liberalism’s extended Socinianism and modern discussions by Barth and Pannenburg.

There are, however, glaring omissions to Spence’s work. For instance, the towering figures of Augustine and Aquinas are absent. Nor is there mention of the “myth of God incarnate” debate of the late twentieth-century. Unfortunately, there are a number of typographical errors. In spite of such problems, Spence should be thanked for his treatment of Owen, whose Christology is often neglected. Christology will be useful for pastors, educated lay-people and undergraduate students. From this one should consult the work of Donald MacLeod and Oliver Crisp.

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