This is an articulate, challenging and well argued book. Olson makes a very strong case in showing some the of the weaknesses of the conservative evangelical position, not least the unconscious habit of raising ‘systems’ of theology, or theological traditions (i.e. puritans) to an equal place of scripture. And for conservatives, their response to this book needs to contain some gratitude and balanced self reflection at some of Olson’s points.
In saying this, there are some issues that came to my mind as i read the book. Firstly, I was surprised that he rates Brian McLaren as an evangelical (post-conservative) theologian when much of his recent writings would move him away from such a position.
Secondly, while his point about the constructive task of theology is very interesting, just how far, or different can we, or should we make the doctrine of the trinity for example? Surely there are doctrines which should not be changed, or adjusted. Granted we must see the difference between what we call doctrine and what is actually human tradition – but even so we need to be careful on this. Are we always reforming everything?
This is a book conservatives should read – not because it will necessarily change your views, but it will help you understand your position.