Olson admits that his characterization of conservative evangelicalism’s conservative emphasis is “impressionistic” but he puts it like this: “A habit of the conservative theological mind is to specialize in reiterating traditional doctrinal formulations and criticizing reconstruction and reformulations of doctrine” (98). So, Reformed and Always Reforming.
Here are some signs of that conservation impulse:
1. Paleo-orthodoxy in Thomas Oden and D.H. Williams who want to find a way to place the early church creeds back into evangelicalism, which has never been fully embracive of the creedal approach — since most evangelicals have no mechanism by which they can appeal to creeds.
2. Conservatives like Wayne Grudem, Millard Erickson, and D.A. Carson. Olson thinks these folks, while they are thoroughly biblical in approach, are at the same tied into evangelical doctrines the same way Oden and Williams are to the ancient creeds.
In response to these, Olson discusses openness in theology in postconservative evangelicalism, and here he dips into:
1. Clark Pinnock:
2. Bernard Ramm:
3. Donald Bloesch
4. James William McClendon Jr
5. Stan Grenz
6. John Franke
And he gives special attention to Kevin Vanhoozer’s theology as performance of the “norming norm” (Scripture) in our world. I like Kevin’s expression: good theology is “faithful improvisation.”
This really is a mongrel list of scholars who vary from one another significantly, but I would say each does like the constructive task more than the defensive task. More importantly, I would say that Vanhoozer and Bloesch are more mediating in content.
Grouping them with Pinnock and McClendon, and at times Grenz, muddles the content with the constructive task.