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A Place at the Table: George Eldon Ladd and…

A Place at the Table: George Eldon Ladd and the Rehabilitation of…

by John A. D'Elia

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This book by D’Elia is superb. One of my earliest and one of my later theology professors both studied with George Ladd at Fuller Seminary. Now some of those incidents and anecdotes that were shared with me spring to life as much of Ladd’s tenure emerges ever so colorfully from this volume. The account with Perrin at the same table at a Society’s banquet was told to me slightly differently. It may be that Ladd’s account of this to my former prof was incorrectly or deliberately skewed.

The research and scholarship that have gone into the volume is superb. Any aspiring evangelical scholar will want to read this book. Ladd’s primary legacy, as D’Elia so admirably recounts, is that which he never fully grasped himself: the gateway to scholarship in the broader academic world was opened to evangelicals greatly in response to Ladd’s own work.

Whether one agrees with Ladd in his estimation of the values of critical scholarship or not this book will be an interesting read for one individual’s academic pilgrimage coupled with the emerging evangelicalism’s early history after world war two.

The personal details mark this work as revealing a real person and not the idealized superheroes of so many “hagiographies.” I was a little disappointed to see the neglect of Ladd’s family but I see that he was committed to scholarship that could not be achieved had he not sacrificed so much time that kept him away from his family. It is a cross he chose to carry, and he will have to answer for the way he dealt with his nearest and dearest.

A by-product of the reading of this book reveals the sinfulness of human beings, where they are so self-centered and mistrusting. The way that the Evangelical avant garde attempted to “defend” the truth by labeling anyone who disagreed with them as outside of the fold is symptomatic of a narrowness and snobbery of which, thankfully, mainstream evangelicalism has been freed. The ghetto doors have been kicked open and in large measure it was George Ladd’s boot print that can be deciphered upon close scrutiny evidenced so admirably by D’Elia.

I recommend this book. Theology students especially will delight in reading this fluent and gripping account.
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  Theodore.Zachariades | Oct 28, 2016 |
D'Elia has produced a fair assessment of the personal and professional motivations of Ladd, one of twentieth-century evangelicalism's most significant figures. Also, he provides a thoughtful historical perspective into the conflicts experienced by evangelicals in America.
added by Christa_Josh | editWestminster Theological Journal, Michael L. Bryant (Sep 1, 2009)
We are in the debt of D'Elia for providing a good book on this important father of evangelical scholarship.
added by Christa_Josh | editJournal of the Evangelical Theological Socety, Jonathan T. Pennington (Sep 1, 2009)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0195341678, Hardcover)

George Eldon Ladd was a pivotal figure in the resurgence of evangelical scholarship in America during the years after the Second World War. Ladd's career as a biblical scholar can be seen as a quest to rehabilitate evangelical thought both in content and image, a task he pursued at great personal cost. Best known for his work on the doctrine of the Kingdom of God, Ladd moved from critiquing his own movement to engaging many of the important theological and exegetical issues of his day.

Ladd was a strong critic of dispensationalism, the dominant theological system in conservative evangelicalism and fundamentalism, challenging what he perceived to be its anti-intellectualism and uncritical approach to the Bible. In his impressive career at Fuller Theological Seminary, Ladd participated in scholarly debates on the relationship between faith and historical understanding, arguing that modern critical methodologies need not preclude orthodox Christian belief. Ladd also engaged the thought of Rudolf Bultmann, the dominant theological figure of his day. Ladd's main focus, however, was to create a work of scholarship from an evangelical perspective that the broader academic world would accept. When he was unsuccessful in this effort, he descended into depression, bitterness, and alcoholism. But Ladd played an important part in opening doors for later generations of evangelical scholars, both by validating and using critical methods in his own scholarly work, and also by entering into dialogue with theologians and theologies outside the evangelical world.

It is a central theme of this book that Ladd's achievement, at least in part, can be measured in the number of evangelical scholars who are today active participants in academic life across a broad range of disciplines.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:46 -0400)

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