Walter W. Bryden was Principal of Knox College, Toronto, after the Second World War, and one of the leading Presbyterian theologians of the period from the 1920s to the 1950s.
In The Neo-Orthodox Theology of W.W. Bryden, John Vissers makes an important contribution by analysing Bryden’s thought, placing it in the context of contemporary European and American theology. Vissers emphasises in particular Bryden’s role in introducing and popularising the ideas of Karl Barth in North America prior to the translation of Barth’s Commentary on Romans into English, and his Neo-Orthodox theology owed much to Barthian ideas. In his most important work, The Christian’s Knowledge of God, Bryden challenged the modernist emphasis on the rational, arguing for a Christocentric doctrine of Revelation.
Vissers brings a wealth of scholarship and research to his subject, revealing Bryden’s pivotal role in the development of neo-orthodoxy within the Protestant tradition in North America, a role that previous studies have often failed to explore.
Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Word of God and the Words of Walter W. Bryden
1. The Making of a Presbyterian Mind
2. The Emergence of a Neo-Orthodox Voice
3. The Judging-Saving Word of God
4. A Theology of the Spirit
5. A Church Reformed and Reforming
6. The Witness of W.W. Bryden and the Neo-Orthodox Legacy
Endorsements and Reviews
Vissers’ lucid and well-documented study of this important Protestant scholar will help greatly to re-establish Bryden’s place in the evolution of Christian theology in the Canadian context.
Douglas John Hall CM, Emeritus Professor of Christian Theology, McGill University
Vissers’ splendid study of Walter Bryden introduces a new generation to the importance of a leading scholar who in the 1930s introduced the emerging ‘neo-orthodoxy’ of Karl Barth to the Canadian church and to key students who themselves became significant theologians. Reacting to the idealism and rationalism of his times, in sharp contrast to the prevailing Liberal Theology, Bryden – like Barth – emphasized God’s definitive revelation in Jesus Christ who pronounces a Judging-Saving Word to the world. A theology of God’s Word and Spirit is the true source for the church’s renewal. Bryden’s influence in the Canadian Presbyterian Church was monumental as he worked out the implications of Barth’s theological approach for his Canadian context. Vissers’ study engagingly conveys the thought and infl uence of Bryden who called the church to theological engagement with issues that are still of vital importance today.
Donald K. McKim, editor of The Encyclopedia of the Reformed Faith
John Vissers offers a compelling analysis of the work of a key figure in the history of Canadian Protestant theology and church life in the first half of the twentieth century. Bryden’s preoccupation with, and love for the gospel of revelation, learned in part from engagement with Barth, and his deep sense of the gospel’s power transfigure philosophical and theological thought, the mission of the church, and the life of society, are all laid out with clarity and discrimination, and with comprehensive awareness of their setting in the history of Canadian Christianity. If theology and the church often find their way forward by listening to past testimonies, Bryden’s work surely deserves the attentive recall which this book presents.
Professor John Webster, King’s College Aberdeen
Vissers’ study engagingly conveys the thought and influence of Bryden who called the church to theological engagement with issues that are still of vital importance today.
Theological Book Review, Vol 25, No 1