A Brief Book Notice from Books At a Glance
By Fred G. Zaspel
I don’t know how I missed the publication of this book, but somehow I never noticed it until just recently. During my own research on Warfield some years ago I read Gundlach’s excellent work in its original dissertation form, and I’m glad to see that it is now available in this updated, book format.
As the title suggests, Gundlach surveys the response of various professors at Princeton – both the college and the seminary – to the then-new doctrine of evolution. He scours the theological journals and all the publications related to the Princetonians and provides a very helpful survey. As the new doctrine gained seemingly universal, unquestioned acceptance, Christians were forced to think through the question as it relates to Scripture and decide if adjustments to traditional interpretations were required to accommodate the new “learning.” Of course opinions varied, and Gundlach’s work seeks to identify the various nuances of each.
The focus on Princeton is helpful for readers who – like me – have interest in all things Old Princeton, but it is valuable also in that it provides a snapshot of Christian thinking at that pivotal time.
Many of our readers are aware that Warfield is very often assumed to have held to some theistic evolutionary theory. I have challenged that consensus, and I am convinced that it is mistaken. Gundlach is somewhat more open to understanding Warfield as a theistic evolutionist, and in my judgment his treatment of Warfield lacks sufficient nuance on this score. For more on this see my The Theology of B.B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary (Kindle) and my more recent study in Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique (Kindle). Still, Gundlach’s work is “must have” on this subject. There is simply no better resource for the study of the evolution question at Old Princeton.
Charles Darwin stands as something of a symbol of the era, “demonstrating” as he did (as his followers thought) that “God” (whoever or whatever that is) had much less to do with this world than previous generations had naively thought. His Origin of the Species was an earthquake kind of publishing event. Reading Process and Providence will leave you with a new appreciation for how Christians were forced to think through this new challenge.