David Steinmetz is a senior scholar who can
distill his learning in graceful, compact essays. The articles collected here
appeared in various journals, including the Century.
Most grow out of the author's research on the Reformation, his primary field,
but all have a broader horizon and bring the historian's insight to issues of
wide significance, such as the use of inclusive language for God and arguments
over intelligent design.
In "The Superiority of Pre-Critical Exegesis,"
Steinmetz makes clear (with pertinent historical examples) that the modern
quest to determine the one, original meaning of a scriptural text is naïve and
inconsistent with the best practices of the church. His summary of the
Reformers' views of conversion and repentance leads Steinmetz to affirm, with
Luther and Calvin, that "only those who love God can hate sin," which means,
paradoxically, that "only a saint can know what sin is" and hence "real
repentance is an activity of the spiritually mature."