The Formation Of Christian Doctrine Summary

Book Review

Yarnell, Malcolm B. The Formation of Christian Doctrine. Nashville, Tenn: B & H Academic, 2007. 218 pp. $17.98

The Formation of Christian Doctrine , authored by Dr. Malcolm Yarnell, confronts the relatively uncharted challenge of forming a foundational free church theological method. Dr. Yarnell is director of the Center for Theological Research and a professor of theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as director of the Oxford Study Program. He earned his Masters of Divinity with Biblical Languages from Southwestern Seminary and his Masters in Theology from Duke University, as well as a Doctorate in Philosophy at Oxford University. He has contributed numerous articles
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Yarenll points out that Marpeck’s insistence on discipleship, defined as total submission to Christ as Lord, is essential underpinning of his theology. Marpeck’s free church theology is encapsulated in four non-negotiable truths. First, a Christian must be united through faith with Christ as His nature is understood via the Nicene Creed. Secondly, the interdependent workings of the Word and the Spirit must harmoniously undergird the life of a disciple in a comprehensive way. Thirdly, Marpeck’s free church theology insists on a Biblical order especially as related to Baptism. Marpeck maintains that Scripture is clear that faith must precede water baptism. Yarnell includes discussion of an interesting debate between Marpeck and Reformed scholar, Martin Bucer, concerning the Biblical order. Interestingly, Marpeck defends his position on the basis of Scripture alone, while Bucer appeals to extra-Biblical ideas stemming from covenantal philosophy. The final truth of Marpeck’s theology is the necessity of a believer’s church ecclessiology. He contends that only a local body of Christ consisting of born-again, baptized professors of the faith can legitimately implement the Biblical ordinances of baptism, the Lord’s Supper and church discipline, as well as safeguard sound Biblical interpretation. Yarnell states, …show more content…
He works from the basic assumption that theology is a human response to divine revelation, adding that that response is less likely to err in community. Yarnell clearly demonstrates that a weak theological foundation, whether grounded in tradition, human reason or philosophy, will result in a Biblically inaccurate structure. By contrasting three negative examples of theological development with one positive example he achieves his goal.
Yarnell mentions in chapter one that it is unique for a Southern Baptist to “set forth a Christian theological method,” especially one that takes into account the historical “shape of dogma” while maintaining submission to Christ” (2). This writer, while not familiar enough with the frequency of Southern Baptist contributions, did appreciate the historical perspective and could certainly detect the underlying current of

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