The IVP Academic Vision
IVP Academic is Evangelical and Ecumenical
We believe that evangelicalism represents a wide family of faith—a deeper and richer inheritance of theological perspectives, spiritual resources and social engagement than is sometimes appreciated1.
While openly acknowledging and affirming our roots in North American evangelicalism, we strive to be evangelical and ecumenical in both the historical and contemporary dimensions of ecumenicity. We aspire to a classically defined orthodoxy, and this leads us to resist publishing sectarian perspectives or engaging in ephemeral debates.
This classically defined orthodoxy might be described as Great Tradition Christianity or Thomas C. Oden's "consensual Christianity" or C. S. Lewis's "mere Christianity." As classically minded Protestant evangelicals, we believe that at its best the church's tradition is the carefully honed, formulated and cherished consolidation of the Spirit's progressive illumination of truth. We are thus receptive of tradition and desire to recover and appropriate the teaching of the church, the shape of its liturgy, the insights of its doctors and the spirituality of its saints. The most prominent sign of this commitment is our Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, a patristic commentary series that made its debut in 1998 and will very soon complete its 29th and final volume on the Apocrypha.
But while we assume that our biblical interpretation should normally be in continuity with tradition, our Protestant evangelical persuasion compels us to give priority to allowing Scripture to speak freshly in ways that weigh and challenge tradition.
Back in 1994 we found direction in Alasdair MacIntyre's definition of tradition as a "socially embodied argument" extended over time. As we put it then, "A strong tradition bears its family traits or resemblances from generation to generation. It constantly reinterprets itself—recasting its leading motifs, refurbishing old motifs that have fallen into disuse—but it does this with faithfulness and appreciation, like a new generation rediscovering family gems and placing them in new settings." In this vein we proposed to "affirm the glorious and living argument that is the tradition called evangelicalism," and to "encompass and revel in all its vigorous streams—Reformed, Wesleyan, Lutheran, Anabaptist, Anglican and so forth"2. More than ten years later we still think this well represents our ethos and direction for the future.
We do not think of ourselves as being of any particular exegetical, hermeneutical, theological or philosophical "school." Our first task is to help our authors speak clearly in their own voice, from their own perspective. Along with our authors, we think of ourselves as members of a broader learning community. And at IVP Academic we count it among our highest privileges to be working with a rich diversity of fellow friends and travelers who share our basic convictions.
While many IVP Academic books fit comfortably within the ethos of centrist evangelical thought, our university ethos calls us to critically engage the space between academic communities shaped by confessional faith and those shaped by secular pluralism.
IVP Academic publishes to facilitate broader conversations that are taking place in the academy and the church. In nonessentials we wish to avoid the polarizing, sharply poised either-or mentality that sometimes drives students into embracing heterodoxy. On some topics, in some fields, we may publish views, or a range of views, that stand in the "moderate center" between so-called conservatives and liberals. While not assuming truth is always in the "moderate middle," we seek to avoid reactionary thought on the right or on the left and recognize that on some issues, shards of truth must be collected from all sides and reassembled.
While we continue to publish textbooks and other works that consolidate and repackage the known, or "assured," results of scholarship, we also seek to publish seminal thought and research that probe and explore new territory, new perspectives and new intersections of thought. On any given issue, IVP Academic places a high value on publishing academic books that help to advance the conversation.
Much is said these days about our postmodern context, and IVP Academic has contributed its share to that conversation with books such as J. Richard Middleton and Brian J. Walsh's Truth Is Stranger Than It Used to Be, Millard J. Erickson's Truth or Consequences or more recently Robert C. Greer's Mapping Postmodernism: A Survey of Christian Options. Whatever one may think of its claims, pervasiveness or staying power, we see postmodernity as offering not only challenges but opportunities. Without pledging our allegiance to postmodernity or to modernity or even to premodernity, we seek that passage through our contested and transitional times that will take us beyond, to a destination yet undisclosed. We aim to capture the best of the past while grappling with Scripture and engaging our own context today. To paraphrase N. T. Wright, in our academic publishing we strive for a creative fusion that points forward and does not collapse into either yesterday or today.
In an increasingly global environment in which the center of Christianity is rapidly shifting away from the West to Asia, Africa and Latin America, we seek to be globally minded and to foster a publishing environment in which intercultural dialogue is welcomed and faithful Christians are encouraged to think and act globally. Our Christian Doctrine in Global Perspective series and our projects in development are attempts to respond to this reality.
Biblical studies has always been close to the heart of our publishing program, and ivp academic will continue to publish landmark works such as John Goldingay's award-winning Old Testament Theology, Volume One: Israel's Gospel (with two more volumes to come), I. Howard Marshall's award-winning New Testament Theology, Eckhard J. Schnabel's two-volume Early Christian Mission and Christopher J. H. Wright's Old Testament Ethics for the People of God. In addition, the New Studies in Biblical Theology series continues to produce significant volumes, more recently G. K. Beale's The Temple and the Church's Mission and Stephen G. Dempster's Dominion and Dynasty. And a promising new Apollos Old Testament Commentary series is underway with Daniel by Ernest C. Lucas and Deuteronomy by J. Gordon McConville already available and more to follow.
Systematic Theology and Ethics
IVP Academic will also continue our tradition of publishing works of excellence in systematic theology and ethics. From a Reformed perspective we have recently published the final volume of Donald G. Bloesch's celebrated seven-volume systematic theology, Christian Foundations. Our commitment to publishing Anabaptists has been signaled by the appearance of Thomas N. Finger's landmark work A Contemporary Anabaptist Theology and Glen H. Stassen and David P. Gushee's Kingdom Ethics. Roger E. Olson's The Mosaic of Christian Belief provides a mediating theological perspective on the common ground of Christian belief, a perspective very much in tune with our own editorial posture. Other recent studies focus on salient topics, such as Terrance L. Tiessen's Who Can Be Saved?, Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen's An Introduction to the Theology of Religions, and Charles E. Hill and Frank A. James III's edited volume, The Glory of the Atonement. A morespecialized work illuminating a theological giant of the twentieth century is the first English translation of Eberhard Busch's Karl Barth & the Pietists.
In recent years IVP has played a part in a significant discussion and controversy that took its title from our book The Openness of God by Clark Pinnock and four others. This fertile discussion was also joined by John Sanders's The God Who Risks as well as God & Time: Four Views, edited by Gregory E. Ganssle, and Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views, edited by James K. Beilby and Paul R. Eddy. While interest in this question has crested and has finally been put to rest in the minds of some, we share the opinion that the conversation has been good for evangelical theology, and we expect further iterations, critiques and refinements of this perspective in the future.
Philosophy, philosophical theology and Christian apologetics have long been strengths of IVP's publishing program, and IVP Academic continues that tradition. Here the volumes in the Contours of Christian Philosophy series continue as a mainstay, with new and intriguing titles such as Victor Reppert's C. S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea being added to the mix. Jay Wesley Richards's The Untamed God offers a profound contribution to philosophical theology, and James W. Sire's The Universe Next Door, now in its fourth edition, continues its redoubtable record of astounding popularity.
We are also proud of our continuing contribution to the renewal of evangelical spirituality. Examples include books such as Gary W. Moon and David G. Benner's edited volume, Spiritual Direction and the Care of Souls, Simon Chan's widely applauded Spiritual Theology, and more recently The Devoted Life: An Invitation to the Puritan Classics, edited by Kelly M. Kapic and Randall C. Gleason.
IVP Academic is now poised to branch out in its historical offerings, building on our successes with broad surveys as well as more narrowly focused studies. Panoramic textbooks such as Roger E. Olson's The Story of Christian Theology and Jonathan Hill's The History of Christian Thought have met well defined classroom needs, as has Laurie Guy's Introducing Early Christianity. Oskar Skarsaune's In the Shadow of the Temple has opened up a window on an area of increased scholarly activity, the interaction of Jewish and Christian thought in the first centuries of the church. And three more volumes are awaited in the History of Evangelicalism, a series initiated by Mark A. Noll's celebrated study The Rise of Evangelicalism--now joined by David W. Bebbington's The Dominance of Evangelicalism. More outstanding historical works are currently under development.
The sciences have long been of interest to IVP. Most recently we have provided a forum for books offering new perspectives under the moniker of Intelligent Design, including a book by that name by William A. Dembski along with his more recent ]The Design Revolution]. Other perspectives are offered in Science & Its Limits by Del Ratzsch as well as in the classic format pioneered by IVP--Science & Christianity: Four Views, edited by Richard F. Carlson. Books in the field of science more generally continue to populate our list, such as Coming to Peace with Science by Darrel R. Falk.
Our well-established niche in Christian psychology and counseling has featured very successful works such as Modern Psychotherapies by Stanton L. Jones and Richard E. Butman and Christian Counseling Ethics, edited by Randolph K. Sanders, which have served both students and professionals.
We are committed to filling out our range of textbooks in core subjects, striving to meet the demand for excellent scholarship wedded to student-friendly features and aids to learning. Among prominent recent examples in biblical studies are David A. deSilva's An Introduction to the New Testament as well as the six volumes in the Exploring the Old Testament and Exploring the New Testament series. In philosophy J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig's Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview has been recognized for its excellence in content and awarded for its interior and exterior design. In ethics Stanley J. Grenz's The Moral Quest has proven its worth as a textbook. And in comparative religion, Winfried Corduan's Neighboring Faiths has established itself as an undergraduate standard.
Over the past fifteen years IVP has enjoyed great success with its reference books, which have earned a reputation for being innovative, authoritative and eminently useful. From commentaries to handbooks, from concise to encyclopedic dictionaries, these reference works cater to a variety of readers, uses and settings. Among our commentaries, pride of place goes to the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, under the general editorship of Thomas C. Oden. The ACCS has been a tremendous success in making patristic biblical interpretation available to a broad audience and has tapped into a contemporary desire among evangelicals and others to explore and appropriate the interpretive treasures of the ancient church. It has clearly proven to be a project whose time has come, and further resources in patristics are underway.
This is the publishing age of dictionaries and encyclopedias in which a stunning array of works addresses nearly every conceivable topic and subtopic. So it is with IVP Academic, where we see the dictionary genre as bearing more potential than simply a storehouse of information, a sort of facts-on-file convenience for the hurried and harried--though we publish some of these too. As a conspectus of an academic discipline, the whole exceeds the sum of its parts: these dictionaries are designed as serious works of scholarship in their own right. Such is the case with IVP Academic's award-winning biblical dictionaries, beginning with the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels and Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, which now extend to four volumes on the New Testament, and the four to five volumes that are projected for the Old Testament, with the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch (2002) and the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books (2005) leading the way. IVP Academic is now poised to launch some equally exciting new initiatives in premier reference books that will be unveiled in coming years.
Building on our success of the past fifteen years, IVP Academic looks forward to vigorous growth in both academic and reference books. We aim to be the "go to" publisher for incisive evangelical thought and scholarship. But more than that, we aspire to be for the academic world the kind of evangelical witness that New York Times columnist David Brooks sees in our model author, John Stott: known for "thoughtful allegiance" to Scripture and "a voice that is friendly, courteous and natural . . . humble and selfcritical, but also confident, joyful and optimistic"3.
1. Thus we see little attraction in recasting our identity as "postevangelical" or "postconservative."
2. "A Message from the Editors," Academic Alert 3.3 (summer 1994): 2.
3. David Brooks, "Who Is John Stott?" New York Times, November 30, 2004, sec. A, p. 23, col. 5.