Conservative/fundamentalist vs. liberal theologian rating for resources

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Pat Flanakin | Forum Activity | Posted: Tue, Oct 12 2010 11:55 AM

I am currently inquiring of a few local pastors as to the resources they use and why.  I am always trying to understand, particularly the commentaries, which are underwritten by conservative/fundamentalist vs liberal theologian/scholars.

Is there anywhere on the net which has rated commentaries, or other resources by this type of rating?

For example, Karl Barth was not a conservative theologian, while an author such as Roy Zuck, or Charles Ryrie is.

Any help is appreciated.

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Fred Greco | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 12 2010 11:59 AM

A very good resource this kind of information is John Glynn's Commentary & Reference Survey.  You can also find some of that data online as it is part of the data (along with other authors) used on this website:

Fred Greco
Senior Pastor, Christ Church PCA, Katy, TX
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spitzerpl | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 12 2010 12:01 PM

I'm not sure of a place that rates them as either conservative or liberal, but since one's view of what is conservative and what is liberal is different, even such a site would be slanted depending on who put the site together.

The best sites for ratings as far as quality is concerned would be and you might want to start in those two locations. As far as Logos is concerned there really would be no way of doing this inside of the software. I would think the best thing to do is to compile a list of authors from the product information pages. Then research each author according to where they stand on the issues you care about. I would then compile your list based upon the views of the author. However the list you come up with would be subjective to the issues you view as important.


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Pat Flanakin | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 12 2010 12:04 PM

Mr. Greco and Mr. Spitzer, thank you so much.  I will start with those areas you suggested.

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nicky crane | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 12 2010 12:27 PM

I'm not so worried as to whether they are conservative or liberal, but rather whether they are true to the Bible (was Jesus conservative or liberal?) and that they are not dogmatic about their standpoint, whatever it is. I decided against one book, not because of what the author said, but because he said his own viewpoint was definitely the true one.  Had he said he believed that, because ...., I might have bought his book.  I appreciate my Logos commentaries because of the new light they throw on so many familiar Bible passages, as well as the difficult verses.  

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 12 2010 12:27 PM

Keep in mind that fundamentalist, conservative, and liberal are fuzzy/relative terms. What is conservative to someone might seem quite liberal to another person who is farther to the fundamentalist end of the continuum. And vice versa. Karl Barth is a case in point. He was at the forefront of a movement known as neo-orthodoxy which attempted to bring theology back to the core truths of the gospel from the "shocking liberalism," the "demythologizing" work of Bultman, and the fascist ideology that were going on at the time in Germany. On the other hand, to some conservative Christians today, Barth didn't go far enough, and thus he was too liberal in their eyes. But seen as compared to his time, he would have been viewed as a conservative.

I don't know of any online sources of ratings like what you're looking for that would be entirely objective (since such is impossible -- we all come from some perspective), but if you find yourself a commentary reviewer whose theological perspective you tend to align with, then you can check that person's reviews on R.C. Sproul, Jim Rosscup, John Piper, Denver Seminary Journal are some reviewers they carry who might be on the more conservative end of the spectrum. But you'd have to judge for yourself what you're comfortable with.

There's also a book called Commentary and Reference Survey: A Comprehensive Guide to Biblical and Theological Resources by John Glynn which uses this grid for evaluating commentaries:

Unfortunately it's not available in Logos.

What is available in Logos is D.A. Carson's New Testament Commentary Survey. The corresponding Old Testament Commentary Survey by Tremper Longman III is not in Logos format yet. But again, it depends on whether you trust where Carson and Longman are coming from whether you'd take their advice on what commentaries are good.

[I see that others have posted much of this advice already before I got around to finishing it.]

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Jacob Hantla | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 12 2010 12:36 PM

I am not aware of any that rate them like that but you may want to look into some commentary surveys (these are by conservative authors). I use these often and they are very very helpful when considering which commentaries to invest your money and time in:


Jacob Hantla
Pastor/Elder, Grace Bible Church

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 13 2010 2:50 AM

Another thing to check is whether the commentaries are aimed at scholars, pastors, or lay people. Logos has a Product Guide which gives these ratings:

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Jonathan Burke | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 13 2010 4:17 AM

Rosie and Jacob, those two Logos books look excellent. I use, but I would certainly find those more detailed works on the subject very useful.

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K.J. | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 13 2010 8:19 AM

Who investigates the investigators?

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Jacob Hantla | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 13 2010 1:03 PM


Who investigates the investigators?

If by the investigators you mean the authors of the surveys, they are pretty well known. Rosscup is a professor at Master's Seminary. D.A. Carson is an incredibly prolific writer and a professor at Trinity. Both evangelical, conservative, holding tightly to biblicaly inerrancy.

Jacob Hantla
Pastor/Elder, Grace Bible Church

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Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Oct 13 2010 1:23 PM


Who investigates the investigators?

I guess that job falls to each of us individually. has more than just the "master list" of everybody's cumulative vote. I know some people would view being the most popular commentary among an ecumenical group as a strike against the work rather than an achievement to be proud of. BestCommentaries also has the individual lists of well-known preacher and teachers. So if you have a few you are familiar with you can expect their recommendations to follow their theology to a faithful measure. It all comes back to "trust but verify!"


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