Book Notice: THE SPIRIT OF THE AGE: THE 19TH CENTURY DEBATE OVER THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION, by J.V. Fesko

Published on February 7, 2018 by Joshua R Monroe

Reformation Heritage, 2017 | 140 pages

A Brief Book Notice from Books At a Glance

 

Presbyterians at the turn of the twentieth century, both in American and abroad, were in theological turmoil, and demands for revision of the Westminster Confession were increasing. Voices such as Philip Schaff (1818-1893) Charles A. Briggs (1841-1913) argued that modern Christians needed to bring their theology up to date. Traditional voices, such as William G.T. Shedd (1820-1894) and B.B. Warfield (1851-1921), while not arguing that the Confession was in principle beyond revision, were quite content with it and insisted that the proposed changes offered nothing of substantive value. Fesko’s observation that a Hegelian-evolutionary understanding of Christian theology was in conflict with a conviction that the faith-deposit had been given once for all to be zealously preserved captures the conflict well.

One part of that (in)famous debate focused on the work of the Holy Spirit, and that is the focus of this book. Fesko examines the substantive points then at issue as well as the differing methodological approaches in light of the Reformed and larger catholic heritage of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

An interesting, insightful, and well-informed study in a rather neglected chapter of Historical Theology, with useful contemporary application.

 

Fred Zaspel

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The Spirit of the Age: The 19th Century Debate Over the Holy Spirit and the Westminster Confession

Reformation Heritage, 2017 | 140 pages