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Remythologizing Theology: Divine Action, Passion, and Authorship by Kevin J. Vanhoozer (Cambridge Studies in Christian Doctrine: Cambridge University Press) (Hardcover) The rise of modern science and the proclaimed 'death' of God in the nineteenth century led to a radical questioning of divine action and authorship - Bultmann's celebrated 'demythologizing'. Remythologizing Theology moves in another direction that begins by taking seriously the biblical accounts of God's speaking. It establishes divine communicative action as the formal and material principle of theology, and suggests that interpersonal dialogue, rather than impersonal causality, is the keystone of God's relationship with the world. This original contribution to the theology of divine action and authorship develops a new vision of Christian theism. It also revisits several long-standing controversies such as the relations of God's sovereignty to human freedom, time to eternity, and suffering to love. Groundbreaking and thoughtmprovoking, it brings theology into fruitful dialogue with philosophy, literary theory, and biblical studies.

Excerpt:  God's still in`his heaven, but (with apologies to Robert Browning) all's not yet right with the world. Moreover, in modern times the doctrine of God has been in a deep funk; this despite encouraging signs that a number of theologians have finally cleared their throats (to use Jeffrey Stout's metaphor for mucking about in methodology) and begun to speak of God. And just in time, for as Jurgen Moltmann observes: "It is simple, but true, to say that theology has only one, single problem: God."' God is "the future of theology," just as he is its past and present. While God transcends time, however, the doctrine of God does not.

There is no more powerful name to drop than that of God, especially in the midst of discussion concerning proper social values. "God" is the ultimate ideological warrant. But what is God's name and what does "God" mean? There are theologies "of" hope, art, literature, music, work, marriage, sex, play, liberation, etc. in which the theme in question overshadows God. The adjective "theological" is similarly promiscuous: ethics, method, imagination, science, education, etc. are all "theological" yet, here too, God typically remains off-stage, a notional rather than operative concept.3 I am as guilty as anyone of procrastinating in the prolegomenal fields. In Is There a Meaning in this Text?' I tilled the textual ground with small conceptual tools (e.g., speech acts) and heavy hermeneutical equipment (e.g., Paul Ricoeur). I buttressed my hermeneutical approach by calling it "theological," but the appeal was too cavalier.

The present work, an essay in aid of the development of the doctrine of God, puts metaphysical muscle behind my adjectival qualifier by explicating what to this point has been only implicit: who/ what God is. We speak well of God, however, only because God has first spoken to us, given us his name. The interpersonal dialogue between God and human beings that the Bible not only depicts but instantiates is the privileged starting point for Christian theology. My project thus begins with what Rudolf Bultmann's demythologizing too hastily dismisses: God's speaking, self-naming, and acting communicatively in the covenant history and Scripture of Israel that culminates in Jesus Christ and his church.

"Authorship" - a convenient shorthand for the notion of verbal communicative action - thus serves as a controlling metaphor whose conceptual elaboration makes the theological way straight. Three further observations support this hunch. First, the concept of communicatio shows up in diverse doctrinal places: theology proper (e.g., the so-called "communicable" vs. "incommunicable" divine attributes), christology (e.g., the communicatio idiomatum), and ecclesiology (i.e., "communicants," in the context of participants in the Lord's Supper). Second, Western theologians as diverse as Thomas Aquinas, John Owen, Karl Rahner, and Karl Barth freely employ the notions of communication and self-communication in the contexts of divine revelation and/or redemption, yet usually without explicit analysis. Finally, few theologians have made use of the available linguistic, philosophical, literary, and rhetorical resources conceptually to elaborate the nature of God's communicative action.

I made some initial forays along these lines in my First Theology.6 Whereas Aristotle identified metaphysics as "first philosophy," I dubbed theological hermeneutics - that complex problematic involving the intersection of God, Scripture, and human understanding -"first theology." The Bible is God's instrument for doing revelatory and redemptive things with words in the context of the church. It is one thing to say that the doctrine of God is implicated in one's hermeneutic, however, and quite another to explicate it. The recent interest in theological hermeneutics, together with the church's recovery of the practice of interpreting the Bible in the context of God's triune activity, welcome though these be, must be matched by an equal attention to the nature of the God of whose communicative activity the Bible is an ingredient.

In The Drama of Doctrine I sought to match the method of theology more closely to its matter.? Christianity is fundamentally neither a philosophy nor a system of morality but a theodrama, a doing in which God gets the most important speaking and acting part. Here too, my gestures towards the notion of God as "triune communicative agent" stopped short of unpacking its implicit ontology. It was nevertheless encouraging to see just how well the notion of communicative action fit in a theodramatic model, for "the particular vocation of the theatre is to explore the consequences of this intuition that 'to say is to do' and `to do is to say'." Doctrine gives direction for right participation in the theodrama, but ultimately doctrine is not a matter of what works but of what befits the way things - God, the world, oneself - are. To define doctrine in terms of fitting participation in the drama of redemption is already to locate theology in the borderlands of ontology.

Ontology is "the sustained attempt to provide a systematic account of the concepts used in discussion concerning any subject-matter."9 At the heart of Christian theology, says Donald MacKinnon, "there lies the continual interpenetration of dramatic and ontological.' Reinhold Niebuhr concurs: "The Bible conceives life as a drama in which human and divine actions create the dramatic whole. There are ontological presuppositions for this drama, but they are not spelled out."" The task of the present work is to explore the ontology of the one whose speech and acts propel the theodrama forward.

This volume sets forth a communicative ontology (i.e., a set of concepts with which to speak of God-in-communicative-action) and sketches the contours of a theodramatic metaphysics (i.e., a biblically derived set of concepts with which to speak of the whole of created reality). Its deepest wish`is to complete Paul Ricoeur's "second Copernican Revolution" that dethrones the autonomous knowing subject in order to hearken to the one whose creative word forms, informs, and transforms us. As others have noted, Ricoeur's work opens up new possibilities for hermeneutics, biblical interpretation, and theological method. Yet neither Ricoeur nor those who stand on his shoulders have given much attention to the doctrine of God, either to the question of divine action in general or to the doctrine of the Trinity in particular. The present work sets out to remove the phenomenological brackets (to the divine things themselves!), take off the hermeneutical gloves, and engage in bare-handed (but not, I trust, ham-fisted) theo-ontology. The result: a communicative theism that stakes a claim to the mantle of Trinitarian theology picked up by certain relational theists and panentheists after Karl Barth set it down.

Some readers will no doubt regard this entire project as a retrograde development: theology has been there, done that. One of the most explosive theological proposals of the twentieth century, Bishop John Robinson's Honest to God, argued that theism must go, for "there is no room for [God], not merely in the inn, but in the entire universe." The ideas that God is "up there" or "out there" are to Robinson's mind equally idolatrous, for God is not a supernatural entity or "highest person" that can be said to exist as do other items in the universe.

Those who would be honest to God must strive to avoid both pride and sloth in their God-talk. Theological pride overestimates the adequacy of human language and thought; theological sloth underestimates the importance of responding to the provocations of God's self-revelation. The one goes before destruction; the other pre-empts instruction. Yet it is hard to miss the recurring biblical theme that God wills to communicate and make himself known: "The word of the Lord came to ..."; "the Lord said ...". Theology is ultimately irresponsible if it fails either to attend to what God says or to think about the nature of the one who addresses us.

Three years after the publication of Honest to God Donald MacKinnon weighed in with an essay of his own: "Can a Divinity Professor Be Honest?" Christian pilgrims emerging from the valley of the shadow of deconstruction are more aware than ever of how one's situatedness can distort one's speech, regardless of one's sincerity. MacKinnon's humility is in this light brave and bracing, especially when it leads him to interrogate his own metaphysical machinations by confronting them with the stubborn particularity of tragedy and evil. Self-inspection is nowhere near as effective, however, as exposing oneself to the rigors of honest conversation. The shortest route to dishonesty is that which avoids dialogue. Being honest to God ultimately requires humility and boldness, the antidotes to theological pride and theological sloth respectively and the necessary prerequisites for entering into constructive conversation.

To proceed with bold and humble honesty to God is to charge with a theological light brigade: theisms to right of them, theisms to left of them, into the valley of ideological warfare, into the jaws of church historians and other academicians, ride the 144,000 ... The present book indicates a constructive way forward for the doctrine of God that thinks on whatever is true and pure in classical theism, Thomism, open theism, and various forms of panentheism. It avoids altogether, however, the broad North American highway that Christian Smith has dubbed Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.'?

My wager is that we will come to a better understanding of God's being by examining biblical accounts of God's communicative action (i.e., naming, promising, declaring, etc.). The focal point in what follows is the nature of the relationship established by the dialogical interaction between God and humanity and its implications for the doctrine of God. The notion of communicative action throws new light on a host of theological issues, including the relation of divine sovereignty and human freedom, divine eternity and human time, divine immutability and human change. The divine-human dialogical relation raises questions that penetrate into the heart of the doctrine of God: Is God solely an agent or can God be affected by human discourse and, if so, how? If Jesus is the Word of God whose own people received him not (Jn. 1:11), is triune communicative action consequently at the mercy of human communicative respondents? Can human obtuseness frustrate God? In the light of these questions, the present book may be viewed as working a communicative variation on the doctrine of divine impassibility. The issue of God's suffering - whether, what, when, and how - is an excellent litmus test for where a theologian stands when he or she is being honest to God.

Can this divinity professor be honest? To attend to MacKinnon's interrogative voice is to be reminded that one tell tale sign of dishonest theology is an incapacity for conversation. Conversely, to admit the provisionally of one's own monological musings is to acknowledge the need for dialogue, and for keeping silent in order to hear what is being said. The present work is consequently all about voices - literal and metaphorical, biblical and theological, human and divine - and their ongoing interaction.

The primary voice I strain to hear is that of the triune God, discerned above all through the self-attestation of the living Word in the polyphonic Scriptures, aided and abetted by the antiphonal ecclesial choirs from East and West, as well as the occasional theological soloist. The rumor of angels is nothing next to the clamor of the academics, however, and a number of voices from different disciplines and traditions have duly elbowed their way into the conversation. These voices too, from alternative perspectives, help keep the theologian honest to God. I have benefited from imagining conversations between thinkers whose divergent disciplines or theological traditions typically make for dialogues of the deaf. What original contribution this book might make stems, in the final analysis, from my following that still but persistent voice that has for some years now impressed upon me the formal and material importance for Christian theology of triune communicative action: God's voice, God's word, God's breath.

The shorthand term for the basic premise of this first theology -that God is the one who makes communicative initiatives - is authorship. To be precise, triune authorship will serve as our main model for understanding the God/world distinction and relation. "Authoring" covers what God does as creator, reconciler, redeemer, and perfecter, and so serves as a metaphor for the economic Trinity as well: the Father "authors" in Christ through the Spirit. Triune authorship, I submit, presents a fruitful way forward for a version of theism that preserves whatever is true and commendable in the classical, modified, and revised (e.g., panentheist) models while avoiding their defects. Specifically, the rubric of authorship enables us better to conceive (1) the absolute distinction between Creator and creation; (2) the triune God whose being is a being-in-communicative action; and (3) God's relation to the world, and to Scripture, in terms of an "economy of communication."

With regard to this latter point, it is important to keep in mind that the substance (subject matter; Sache) and form of Scripture are equally theodramatic. The Bible both describes and participates in the economy of triune communicative action. The Bible is both a unified (one mythos) and many-voiced (i.e., polyphonic) discourse whose form is theologically significant. As opposed to monologic epics - comprehensive stories told by an omniscient narrator with a single set of concepts and categories - the Bible communicates its theodramatic story dialogically. To speak of mythos is to remember both that there is a unifying plot and that no one voice, perspective, or set of categories alone articulates it. Rather, the divine playwright employs a plurality of human voices to communicate what he was doing in Christ to reconcile the world to himself.

Ten theses on remythologizing

To de- or not to de-(mythologize): that is the methodological question. Demythologizing (which amounts to the process of de-mythos-izing Scripture) invariably falls prey to Feuerbach's charge that theology is actually a system of human self-projection. The primary thrust of "remythologizing" is to be found just here, in its contrast to demythologizing. The latter errs with regard to both the form and content of the biblical mythos. As concerns form, Bultmann tends to translate narrative and other forms of biblical discourse into statements concerning existential self-understanding. With regard to content, he transforms statements about God's saying and doing things into statements of human self-understanding. In overlooking the significance of God's communicative action, then, he fails to do justice either to the subject matter or the forms of the biblical mythos. By contrast, remythologizing theology treats the biblical mythos as a medium of God's self-presentation. What we have in Scripture are not cleverly`devised myths (i.e., merely human projections) but divine discourse about divine deeds (i.e., divine "projections" into language and history that become the stuff of the biblical mythos). Remythologizing shines brightest precisely where Bultmann's demythologizing falls short, namely, in taking seriously the biblical depictions of God's speaking and the Scriptures as a species of divine dialogical action.

Herewith are some initial theses:

(1) Remythologizing is not a "fall back into myth" but a spring forward into metaphysics. It seeks not to take every thought captive to ancient myth but to recover the biblical mythos, its theodramatic sense together with its theodramatic referent, and to provide a coherent and appropriate conceptual elaboration of the ontology of the divine dramatis personae in terms of communicative agency. As such, it is, first, imaginative, "that is, bounded by the forms of the biblical stories; and second, metaphysical, that is, exalted by the splendor and truth of those stories."

(2) Remythologizing means recovering the "who" of biblical discourse. The focus is on the divine protagonist whose words and deeds the Bible depicts. God renders his identity through his communicative action. Remythologizing means thinking about the being and attributes of God on the basis of God's own (theodramatic) .system of projection, namely, his self-presentation in words, Word, and Spirit.

(3) Remythologizing means attending to the triune "who" of communicative action. After sustained reflection on the biblical discourse, the church concluded that the speaking and acting divine subject of the theodrama is triune. Father, Son, and Spirit may be expressed in terms of tripersonal communication: voice (speaker; author); word/discourse (formed sound/content); breath (medium; channel; power).

(4) Remythologizing conceives the God-world relation in primarily communicative rather than causal terms. Better: it scrutinizes language about causality in order to bring out a communicative sense to which the church has not sufficiently attended. The category of communication applies analogically to God's relation to the natural world but comes into its own in God's relation to humanity whose paradigm is the God-man, Jesus Christ."° It is in part for communicative freedom that Christ has set us free. Along these lines, we may recall the 1989 Manila Declaration of the World Association for Christian Communication which affirmed communication to be a human right and need every bit as fundamental as food and shelter."' All this to say that the category of communicative action, which stands at the heart of the biblical mythos, contributes to the development of a number of doctrines to the extent that it helps us conceive the nature of the God-world relation.

(5) Remythologizing means rethinking metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics alike in theodramatic terms. To remythologize theology is to reverse what Hans Frei called the "great reversal," that fateful moment when theologians began to see their task as fitting the biblical story of God and the gospel into the world as understood by modern science and philosophy. Remythologizing proceeds in the opposite direction, taking what God was doing in and through Christ as the "metadrama" in whose light we come to understand everything else. To remythologize theology thus means according metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical primacy to the gospel mythos. The criterion of truth, goodness, and beauty alike is "theodramatic fittingness" to the dynamic form (i.e., the mythos) of Jesus Christ, the communicative activity of God made flesh.

(6) Remythologizing means faith seeking, and demonstrating, theodramatic understanding through fitting participation in the triune communicative action. "Fitting participation" is the operative concept: we come to know and love God when we participate fittingly in the communications of Word and Spirit. Theology is an aid to situating, and hence finding, oneself in the biblical mythos.

(7) Remythologizing means taking Christ, together with the Spirit-breathed canon that the living Word commissions, as the chief means of God's self-presentation and communication. "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son" (Heb. 1:1-2). The divine author pursues both direct and indirect communication via the many forms of biblical discourse and the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Remythologizing acknowledges the supreme authority of mythos, the overarching theodramatic plot of Scripture that depicts the whole and complete self-communicative action of the triune God as well as its diverse forms of discourse that not only report the action but also carry it forward.

(8) Remythologizing is a form of biblical reasoning, a matter of thinking about the subject matter along the various forms of biblical discourse that present it. Remythologizing extends recent insights into the indispensable cognitive contribution of metaphor and narrative to all forms of biblical discourse: "there is thought in biblical writings. That means that thought is not exhausted by Greek philosophy." Remythologizing involves relearning the modes of "biblical reasoning," the manners of "biblical reality-depicting."

(9) Remythologizing means attending to biblical polyphony and recognizing the dialogical nature of theodramatic testimony and theological truth. It takes many voices, literary forms, and conceptual schemes fully to articulate the reality of God and the truth of the gospel. Remythologizing attends to the diverse points of view that together articulate the divine discourse. Specifically, this means being alert to at least three "world perspectives" (viz., historical; ontological; eschatological) and three "subject perspectives" (viz., the divine; the human; the powers and principalities). The result: a dialogical rather than monological systematics that does justice to each voice in Scripture.

(10) In sum, remythologizing is best defined in contrast to demythologizing as a type of first theology. It is a proposal for integrating exegesis, biblical theology, and systematic theology by attending to God's self-communication in the history and literature of Israel and the church and above all in the person and history of Jesus Christ. It is a way of viewing God, Scripture, and hermeneutics in terms of their mutual implications, all coordinated by the notion of communicative action: the triune God is the ultimate communicative agent of Scripture; Scripture is an element in the triune God's communicative action; interpretation is the way the church demonstrates her understanding of what God is saying and doing in and through Scripture`by right theodramatic participation.

The argument: a brief summary

Part I is exploratory and evaluative. It begins by sampling representative biblical texts and by highlighting key issues in interpreting statements about the voice and acts of God, particularly those that depict God's dialogical interaction with human persons (ch. 1). There follows a survey of the main ways in which Western theology has sought to conceptualize this biblical material, ranging from various forms of theism to more recent forms of panentheism (ch. 2). Part I concludes by identifying an emerging contemporary consensus - a "new orthodoxy," as it were - under the rubric of "kenotic-perichoretic relational ontotheology" and proceeding to interrogate it from the vantage point of a more traditional theism (ch. 3).

Readers more interested in my constructive proposals than in my interpretation of the contemporary scene may wish to proceed directly to Part II, which proposes a "retooling" of classical theism that deploys communicative rather than causal categories to do the heavy conceptual lifting. It begins by returning to Barth's unfinished task of rethinking God's being on the basis of his revelation in "word" and "act" and sets forth the central notion of God's being-in-communicative-act (ch. 4). There follows an account of the communicative agency of the three divine persons. The triune God who is light, life, and love ad intra also communicates this light, life, and love ad extra to creation (ch. 5).

Part III examines key implications of this triune communicative theism. It sets forth a new model for conceiving the God-world relation - as "authored dialogue" - by appropriating Mikhail Bakhtin's analysis of Dostoevsky's polyphonic authorship (ch. 6). The notion of dialogical interaction leads to a reconsideration of how the paradigm of divine communicative action might advance age-old discussions concerning divine sovereignty, human freedom, evil, and prayer (ch. 7). This discussion generates the major question of the sub-plot that runs throughout this work: whether, and how, human interlocutors may affect God. Remythologizing is pushed to the limit in its quest to understand the biblical depiction of God's suffering, both as this is manifested in the cross (ch. 8) and as it appears as an implication of divine compassion in general (ch. 9). The goal is to set forth an understanding of the loving compassion of God in terms of communicative action oriented to communion.

Clearly, any work on the doctrine of God will be less than exhaustive, and this study is no exception. Like the celebrated Dickensian ghosts, I shall lead the reader past visions of Christian Past, Present, and (possibly) Future, often staying long enough only for brief comment. Those scenes are not the site of our central concern, which is rather to redress the surprising gap between, on the one hand, recent philosophical accounts of divine being and action that pay only passing attention to speaking as a form of divine action, and theologies that enshrine the notion of the word of God without recourse to analyses of communicative action or authorship on the other.

The argument works a communicative variation on a theistic theme. The result, a Trinitarian dialogical theism, views God's being as a being-in-communicative-act, the God/world relation primarily in terms of a distinct communicative causality, Scripture as ingredient in an economy of triune discourse, and biblical interpretation in the church as a form of participation in God's communicative acts. Focusing on divine authorship - God's capacity to make communicative initiatives and to bring about communicative results - yields a fresh account of divine transcendence and immanence (i.e., God's distinction from and relation to the world). The present work sets forth the ontology of God implied by our focus on the rubric of divine authorship (i.e., communicative agency). Stated differently: the goal is to lay out the contours of a theodramatic metaphysics whose categories derive from descriptions of God's word-acts, and to bring this account into dialogue with other forms of theism.

A full-orbed doctrine of God is beyond the scope of the present project. There is, however, one particular theme - divine passibility -that serves as an apt touchstone for evaluating proposals in first theology, not least because there has been a sea change in contemporary theology on this point. If God is a communicative agent who interacts dialogically with the world, can the world act on God in return? Does God suffer change as a result of his dialogical interaction with the world, in which case is God also a communicative patient? Far from being an eccentric query, these questions strike at the heart of our understanding of God's being as interpersonal communicative agency or, in a word, love. Accordingly, we shall inquire whether, and how, divine compassion itself might also be a shape of divine communicative action. This distinctly dialogical variation on the theme of divine passibility is a recurring sub-plot. But it is with divine dialogue that we must begin.


Constructive Theology: A Contemporary Approach to Classic Themes: A Project of The Workgroup On Constructive Christian Theology/a> includes A CD-ROM by Serene Jones, Paul Lakeland (Augsburg Fortress Publishers) Coordinated by Serene Jones of Yale Divinity School and Paul Lakeland of Fairfield University, fifty of North America's top teaching theologians (members of the Workgroup on Constructive Christian Theology) have devised a text that allows students to experience the deeper point of theological questions, to delve into the fractures and disagreements that figured in the development of traditional Christian doctrines, and to sample the diverse and conflicting theological voices that vie for allegiance today. The accompanying CD-ROM not only contains the fully searchable text but also includes chapter summaries, discussion questions, a glossary, weblinks, and a guide to writing research papers in theology. 

The books contains 6 chapters. Chapter One, God: Christian concepts of God are rich, many, and varied. Many ways of imagining divine being and presence came into Christianity from far more ancient Hebrew, Persian, African, and Asian beliefs. Christianity is a world religion; there are many patterns, traditions, practices, and claims about God that resonate in the rhythms and textures of the gathered people in Christian worship. This makes the task of the theologian who wants to celebrate and speak to the full multiplicity of the Christian community today a very complicated one indeed. No one has the last or only word when it comes to imagining the divinity expressed by Christian faith.

This chapter attempts to think critically about the history of debates about God in Christian theology in order to identify some of the themes or concerns that in our current context we share with our forebears. Major figures like Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, G. W. F. Hegel, and Karl Barth are discussed in terms of their contributions to the multifaceted development of the Christian concept of God. A look at our shared doctrinal past (for example, the Nicene Creed, trinitarianism) also gives us a sense of the human dimension of theology, its fallible and ever-hopeful reaching for God. A discussion of contemporary theological developments notes the challenge of religious pluralism and the issue of gender and God language.

Chapter 2: Human Being focuses on issues of theological anthropology, the phrase traditionally used to describe the Christian doctrine of human being. It is anthropology because its subject matter is human existence; it is theological because it examines human existence from the perspective of a specifically Christian belief in God.

The chapter explores Christian responses to the questions “What makes us human?” and “Who counts as human?” Discussing theological themes such as imago dei, freedom and responsibility, and eschatology, as well as major historical figures and groups such as Irenaeus, the Gnostics, Gregory of Nyssa, and Augustine, the chapter presents a range of perspectives on human being. Then the constructive proposal reflects on the ways in which what Christians have said about human being affects both their collective life as a community of faith and the experience of individual members.

Chapter 3: Sin and Evil Here a history of the Christian concepts of sin and evil is drawn from several perspectives, asking about their character; the shapes they take in the lives of individuals, institutions, and cultures; and their place in Christian theology past and present. Two thinkers, one classical and one contemporary, surface repeatedly in the chapter, shaping method and content in important ways. Methodologically, Paul Ricoeur’s proposal that human evil may be fruitfully understood using the concepts of the tragic and the Adamic allows for conceptual and analytical clarity without eclipsing the unrelenting complexity and ambiguity of human wickedness. The work of Augustine is seen to be both a brilliant assessment of human nature and an example of how theological tradition can itself harbor and contribute to evil.

A range of topics and themes are woven throughout the constructive proposal section of the chapter, including concepts from the work of Michel Foucault and Reinhold Niebuhr; theories such as poststructuralism and postcolonialism; and approaches to addressing contemporary concerns such as economic exploitation and political oppression.

Chapter 4: Jesus Christ: From the gospel narratives through Christian thought and practice today, clearly we must consider not one but numerous portraits of Jesus Christ. This chapter approaches the significance of Jesus Christ in light of the life-and-death issues that characterize our contemporary era, asking how Jesus’ ministry, death, resurrection, and salvific presence speaks to such pressing concerns.

The chapter’s historical section outlines major developments in Christology throughout Christian history. Beginning with biblical portrayals of Jesus, the section moves through the patristic, medieval, Reformation, and Enlightenment periods and closes with the Holocaust’s serious challenge to Christology and several twentieth-century theological responses to the failings and successes of modernity.

The chapter’s constructive proposals offer contemporary answers to Jesus’ question found in Matt. 16:17, “Who do you say that I am?” The first constructive proposal tackles the question of Jesus’ uniqueness, often referred to as the scandal of particularity. The second proposal addresses the significance of Jesus’ suffering humanity, especially how it is used as the lens through which our suffering and the groaning of creation is viewed. The third proposal addresses Jesus’ salvific role in human history. The final proposal attends to Christian triumphalism and exclusivism—asking whether confessing Jesus as the Way automatically invalidates truth claims of other religious traditions. For each proposal, Jesus as the Christ offers good news to the spaces of life most in need of healing.

Chapter 5: Church: The church, or the community of believers, both internally and in its relations to the world beyond it, is the focus of this chapter. The church today is faced with enormous challenges. Seeing all the problems of ecclesial existence as moments of grace, however, means that every crisis is an opportunity. So, every problem is a place where God’s grace is present. We classify problems under four headings—disembodiment, division, authority, and globalization—which correspond with four ancient images of the church. The church is variously referred to in scripture and ancient texts as the body of Christ, the people of God, the temple of the Spirit, and the household of God.

One constructive proposal suggests four contemporary categories—race, body, space, and time—and links them to the four classical “marks” of the church, that it is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. The other proposal, in its focus on mission, discusses the overriding question of God’s “mission,” the divine creative will, within which the church must find its own.

Chapter 6: Spirit: The central question of this chapter is: How does life in the Spirit reflect the hope and tragedy of our common life together in an era marked by empire-building and chronic poverty, on the one hand, and counter-movements of joy and resistance, on the other?

Lifting up themes from medieval mystics Joachim of Fiore and Hildegard of Bingen and from contemporary theologian Jürgen Moltmann, the chapter describes themes from various Christian traditions about the power of the Spirit—for example, the gifts of the Spirit as celebrated in Pentecostal churches and the Spirit’s role in liberation as seen from an Afro-diaspora perspective. The first constructive proposal explores the challenges involved in the efforts of individuals and communities to discern the Spirit. The second connects the Spirit, human beings, and the cosmos with insights from quantum physics. The third explores the Spirit as boundary-breaking, transforming power. The fourth uses the depiction of Spirit in a painting to meditate on the Spirit in nature and draw lessons for a “green” theology.

Understanding Christian Theology: A Clear, Comprehensive Introduction to Basic Biblical Doctrines by Charles R. Swindoll, Roy B. Zuck (Thomas Nelson Reference) Experts in their respective fields provide an authoritative perspective on the fundamentals of theology as derived from the traditional readings of scripture from an evangelical standpoint. Extensive treatment of all the classic areas of theological concern—God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, man, sin, salvation, sanctification, the Scriptures, the church, and more is offered in easy to follow prose. Makes a good introduction to normative evangelical theology. Contributing authors include: Robert Gromacki, Earl Radmacher, John Witmer, Robert Saucy, John Walvoord, Robert Lightner, J. Carl Laney, Robert Pyne, Ed Hayes, Henry Holloman.

THE B I B L E is the most important book in the world. This is the conviction of Christian believers, but also of thoughtful political statesmen, royalty, and renowned intellectuals. King George V of England declared, "The English Bible ... in a secular aspect, is the first of national treasures, and is, in its spiritual significance, the most valuable thing that this world affords."' At the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, as she held the Bible in her hands as an expression of faith and allegiance, the archbishop of Canterbury declared, "Here is Wisdom; this is the Royal Law; these are the Lively Oracles of God :'Z

Patrick Henry, the colonial American patriot famous for his immortal words, "Give me liberty or give me death," said of the Bible, "This is a book worth more than all the others that were ever printed." Sounding a similar note, the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky, after recommending the reading of the entire Bible in the Russian translation, declared, "One gains, for one thing, the conviction that humanity possesses, and can possess, no other book of equal significance."'

In more recent times Billy Graham said of the Scriptures, "No other book can touch its profound wisdom, its poetic beauty, or the accuracy of its history and prophecy.... The Bible embodies all the knowledge man needs to fill the longing of his soul and solve all his prob­lems.... I want to be saturated with the Bible. I want to know it by heart before I die ."S No wonder he constantly says in his messages, "The Bible says..."

The inestimable value of the Word of God for believers is evident in their willingness to sacrifice their lives for possessing it. In the great persecution of the church in A.D. 303, the Roman emperor Diocletian was determined to destroy the Scriptures. Any copy of the Bible that was found was burned. Thousands of believers and their families were martyred for pos­sessing portions of the Word of God. This killing and destruction of the Scriptures went on for two years, after which a victory column was erected over the ashes of a Bible with words that indicated that the Bible is "extinct." But only twenty years later the emperor Constantine proclaimed the Bible the infallible judge of truth. Enemies of God have made similar attempts to destroy the Bible in a variety of ways. But God has preserved it-sometimes at great cost on the part of His people, a cost which for them was nothing in comparison with the treasure of Scripture.

This eminent status that Christians have accorded the Bible has earned them the epithet "People of the Book." This name was apparently first coined by Muhammad, who applied it primarily to Jews but also to Christians because of the importance they both placed on a written revelation. Muslims have also come to be included in this terminology because of the significant place that all three of these religions place on their sacred scriptures in comparison to the place of writings in other religions.

To the Jews their sacred writings were the full revelation of God to His people. But for Christians, that place belongs to Christ, who is God, who came to this earth to reveal Himself personally (Heb. 1:2). As such, Christ is the living Lord and final authority over the church. But this does not reduce the Scriptures to some kind of secondary authority, as is sometimes suggested. For how do we know Christ, except through the Bible? And how does He exercise His authority except through His Word, even as He did while here on earth? As we will see later, there is an intrinsic connection between the Word of God revealed in the person of Jesus Christ and the Word of God revealed in the Bible.

The Bible is essential in Christianity because it is the record of God's saving intervention in human history. Yet even more than simply the history of God's saving activity, the Bible itself is part of that activity. His Word tells us what His actions mean, and it reveals how we can receive His salvation.

The absolute necessity of the Bible for Christianity has been illustrated by comparing it with the sacred writings of Hinduism. If all the writings of Hinduism were destroyed and no Hindu remained alive, so that Hinduism was totally absent from all human minds on earth, it is still conceivable that Hinduism could arise again, because it is basically a way of life. If peo­ple thought this way once, there is no reason why they could not do so again. On the other hand, if all copies of the Scriptures were obliterated and all remnants of Christianity were completely gone from the face of the earth, including all historical references to its existence, it would be impossible for Christianity to rise again. Why? Because it is more than a way of life. It is a historical religion founded on the actions of God in history, and the Bible records that salvation history.

The Bible is different from all other books because it is God's Word. Other books, no mat­ter how profound, are only human words. The number of people who view the Bible as an infallible authority is probably increasing in the world as liberal churches are declining and Christianity is growing significantly in many parts of the world.

But there is also a disturbing dichotomy between this high esteem for Scripture and the actual function that it plays in people's lives. Especially in the Western world, a growing reli­gious pluralism and a corresponding tolerance of all views, coupled with a continuing destructive rationalistic criticism of the Scriptures, are undermining conviction in its final authority, even in many good churches. Diverse views on how to interpret the Bible also leave many people in doubt as to what it actually teaches. Together these forces are gnawing away at the Scriptures as the pillar of truth that supports the believer's life.

Most significantly, lack of trust in the effectiveness of Scripture plagues many believers today. We honor the Bible as God's holy Word, but we don't read it. When perplexed with life's problems, we are more likely to turn to other sources than to the Scriptures for help and com­fort. The reasons for this lack of confidence are many and complex. First, we are embedded in a cultural climate of antiauthoritarianism. We don't want anyone, whether human or divine, to tell us what to do. Closely allied with this is the failure of many believers to obey the Scrip­tures, to receive them into their hearts in obedient trust in such a way that their lives are transformed. Therefore many people conclude that the Scriptures are not very effective.

The Bible, of course, claims to occupy the central place in God's relationship to His human creatures. Only by the Scriptures can we come to the knowledge of God, which, Jesus said, is eternal life (John 17:3). The Scriptures sustain and nourish that life so that we may grow in our experience of God. Thus the prominence of Scripture as "the Book" of human history accords with reality, and failure to give it that place in our lives results in loss.

But what is this book that we call the Bible? How did we get it? What makes it authorita­tive? Is it really inerrant? Why are sixty-six books included and others excluded? How are its teachings related to the teachings of the church or human reason? How can we understand its teachings? What do we need to do to experience the transforming power of the Bible? These and other questions are the subject of this study, with the goal that the Scriptures will fulfill their promised dynamic in our lives.

Theological Milton: Deity, Discourse And Heresy in the Miltonic Canon by Michael Lieb (Medieval & Renaissance Literary Studies Duquesne University Press) In lively, forceful, and at times witty language, Michael Lieb has written an illuminating study of the figure of God as a literary character in the writings of John Milton. Milton's God has always been a provocative and controversial figure, and Lieb offers a fresh way to look at the relationship between the language of theology and the language of poetry in Milton's works. He draws into the discussion previous authors on the subjectPatrides, Hunter, Kelley, Empson, Danielson, Rumrich and others—resulting in a dynamic debate about Milton's multifarious God. By stressing God's multivalent qualities, Theological Milton offers an innovative perspective on the darker side of the divinity. Lieb allows us to see a Miltonic God of hate as well as a God of love, a God who is a destroyer as well as a creator. Lieb directly confronts the more troubling faces of God in a manner richly informed by Milton's own theology. Against the theoretical framework for the idea of addressing God as a distinctly literary figure, Lieb presents Milton in the historical milieu prior to and contemporaneous with his works. More

The Constant Dialogue: Reinhold Niebuhr and American Intellectual Culture by Martin Halliwell (American Intellectual Culture: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers) In this important new work, Martin Halliwell focuses on the tensions between the two dimensions of Reinhold Niebuhr's thought: his political role as a radical social critic and his conservative and largely private belief in the values of neo-orthodox Christianity. In order to better examine Niebuhr's philosophy, Halliwell positions him in a series of debates on political, religious, ethical, and cultural themes with other eminent intellectuals. In doing so, Halliwell reassesses the important contributions that Reinhold Niebuhr made to 20th century American culture. More

Questions of Faith: A Skeptical Affirmation of Christianity by Peter L. Berger (Religion and the Modern World: Blackwell) Does God exist? What was so special about Jesus? How can one be Christian in a pluralistic society? These are among the fundamental questions addressed by leading religious and cultural commentator, Peter Berger, in this engaging exploration of faith in modern times.

The book is structured around key phrases from the Apostles' Creed, which the author uses to explore the basics of Christian belief. Drawing on both the Christian theological tradition and the work of other relevant thinkers from Freud through to Simone Weil, he negotiates between traditional and modern, liberal and orthodox views.

Throughout the book, Berger takes the position of an open-minded skeptic, not bound by any traditional authority, be it church, scripture, or personal experience. At the same time he explores his own beliefs, indicating why, in the end, he does have faith.

This book is an exercise in what used to be called "lay theology." That is, its author is not a professional theologian, and the intended audience is assumed to consist, in the main, of similarly unaccredited people. If some professional theologians should read it, they will undoubtedly find various errors and misinterpretations in the discussion of religious thinkers and doctrines. That is a risk that must be taken by a lay person who ventures into a field in which he is not academically accredited. Evi­dently, I think that the risk is worth taking. And if I look at the works that many professional theologians have regaled us with in recent years, I become even more convinced that a lay intrusion into their precincts is fully justified.

The structure of the book is very simple. Each chapter (with the excep­tion of a couple of excursi) is based on a phrase of the Apostles' Creed. This document, alas, does not date from the time of the Apostles. It was composed early on in the history of the western church, probably in Rome , and was subsequently adopted in the east as well. It is the most compact statement of Christian faith and, along with the Nicene Creed, the one that is M most often recited in worship. Obviously it does not cover everything that Christians have believed. But it covers most of it and is thus a convenient guide for a tour d'h'orizon of Christian beliefs.

My subtitle combines the words "skeptical" and "affirmation." This is not an oxymoron. My argument is skeptical in that it does not presuppose faith, does not feel bound by any of the traditional authorities in matters of faith — be it an infallible church, an inerrant scripture, or an irresistible personal experience, and takes seriously the historical contingencies that shape all religious traditions. Nevertheless, my argument eventuates in an affirmation of Christian faith, however heterodox. Of course the reader will be free not to follow me to this conclusion.

In the name of honest advertising, I should state my own location on the theological map. I feel uncomfortable with all available theological labels and ecclesial affiliations. My biographical roots are in Lutheranism, and I would still identify myself as Lutheran, albeit with great reserva­tions. I attend services in an Episcopal church, not because I am in any sense on the road to Canterbury, but because the two Lutheran churches located at convenient distances from my home are impossible for oppo­site reasons (one belongs to the Missouri Synod, which adheres to a quite stifling orthodoxy; the other is a parody of "political correctness," which, if anything, is even more stifling). I most feel at home in the tradition of liberal Protestantism, going back (in attitude, not in substance) to Friedrich Schleiermacher, because this tradition embodies precisely the balance between skepsis and affirmation that, for me, defines the only acceptable way of being a Christian without emigrating from modernity. I should emphasize, however, that I do not consider this book to be a liberal Protestant manifesto. Readers who do not so locate themselves may find themselves able to go along with me at least part of the way. Some of my best conversations in recent years have been with Catholics – the kind who are prone to say, "I am Catholic, but ..."

This "but" is important. Quite a few years ago, in a book by that title, I used the phrase "the heretical imperative" to describe the situation of religious believers in the contemporary world. The Greek word hairesis, from which the English "heresy" derives, means "choice." That is, a heretic is one who picks and chooses from the tradition, retaining some parts of it and giving up other parts. I argued (correctly, I continue to think) that such exercises of choice are inevitable in a situation in which no religious tradition is any longer taken for granted. The individual now must make choices. And even if he defines himself as an orthodox adherent of this or that tradition, that too is the result of a choice. This situation is both liberating and burdensome. All in all, I think that this is good. I cannot see how taken-for-granted religion is superior to religion that is chosen. Kierkegaard, in his passionate attack on the taken-for-granted Christendom of the Danish established church of his time, urged us to become "contemporaneous" with Jesus. That is hardly feasible. The Christendom which he attacked hardly exists anymore (certainly not in Denmark ). Its taken-for-granted status has been exploded by modernity and pluralism. What this means, however, is that in a strange way we have become "contemporaneous" with the earliest Christians, who also existed in the exuberantly pluralistic world of late Graeco-Roman civi­lization, and for whom Christian faith was possible only as a deliberate act of choice. I don't think that we should deplore the fact that our situ­ation, in this particular aspect, is similar to that of Paul as he preached in the agora of Athens , where a multitude of gods competed with each other.

Some sympathetic readers of the manuscript of this book have pointed out that I do not engage with much of contemporary theology. I acknowledge the point. But the purpose of this book is not to comment on this or that theologian, contemporary or other. I refer only to such theolo­gians as are directly pertinent to the argument I try to make. Put simply, the book explains how one contemporary individual, skeptical in temperament and reasonably well informed, manages to affirm the Christian faith.

Near the end of Questions of Faith, Berger relates the story of Martin Luther's reply to a young man who asked him how God occupied himself in eternity. Luther replied, "God sits under a tree and cuts branches and rods, to beat up people who ask useless questions." Scattered throughout the book Questions of Faith are what Berger finds to be humanly unacceptable notions about the Christian religion that he believes need to be pummeled (i.e., "beat up") mainly because of their unthinking acceptance of suffering, death, and evil.

Berger calls his book an exercise of free enterprise in "lay theology" that is written for similarly "unaccredited" people. By questioning the theology produced by professional theologians Berger asks probing questions about religion without being bound by tradition, church, scripture, or even personal experience. This is a well-written work that, nonetheless in parts, is not for the unserious reader. A warning must be issued that there are some glaring typographical errors in the book. One may need to look up words not used in ordinary conversation. However, at points Berger flashes a riveting summary of a complex theological issue with an illuminating one-sentence proposition or even a meaningful joke.

Questions of Faith won't likely be attractive to what Berger calls "Golden Rule" Christians who embrace the images of "gentle Jesus," the exemplar and teacher contained in so much Protestant Christian literature. Nor will it appeal to those "New Age" religious seekers of what Berger calls "The Mythic Matrix," defined as a childlike belief in the one-ness of God, nature, and man. Neither would it resonate with those academics and so-called liberals who reduce religion to mere ethics or diversity, to some inner psychoanalytic conversation, or some Marxist egalitarian view of heaven on earth.

Berger's theological method is to weave into his commentary a number of what might be called null hypotheses that he rejects because he finds them inhuman. Below I have excerpted some of the taken-for-granted theological notions that Berger rejects. I will leave it to the reader to find out why Berger rejects these propositions.

1. Religion is supposed to be necessary as the basis for morality.
2. Religion demands submission to God's will, even in the face of the innocent suffering of children.
3. Religion may seek to console us all by saying that eventually we will be absorbed into some ocean of cosmic divinity (i.e., the mythic matrix).
4. Religion offers certainty in scriptures, spiritual experiences, and in institutions from the chaos of life.
5. Religion provides powerful symbols for the exigencies of human existence.
6. High religion says man is saved, not by works, but by God's grace and forgiveness.
7. Both religious and atheistic eschatologies (i.e., world views) often claim to know the course of history.
8. Religionists, particularly of the orthodox and neo-orthodox schools of religion, often claim that God has spoken to them directly -- or through scriptures God has spoken to them directly.
9. Religion must say no to every freedom-denying scientism or any Buddhist understanding that all reality is non-self (an-atta), and which results in a denial of the existence of the autonomous and responsible self.
10. The collection of Jesus' sayings constituting what we know as the Sermon on the Mount forms the moral and ethical basis for the organization of society.
11. The criteria distinguishing true and untrue religion asserted mainly by academics and liberal North American Christians is whether a religious tradition induces its adherents to cultivate selfishness and altruism.
12. Petitionary prayers are selfish and therefore to be eschewed.
13. The atonement is defined in virtually all strands of Christian thought as the process by which God forgives mankind. 14. The conception of original sin is as an inescapable part of the human condition, of which I should feel guilty.

After reading Questions of Faith the reader will likely be left with the lasting impression that the theological thought police and the totalitarian brainwashers didn't have to "beat up" Berger to get him to provide programmed answers to often-useless theological questions. Perhaps it is fitting to close this review with one of Berger's characteristic jokes:

"A Russian legend has it that there were three holy men who lived on an island, engaged in constant prayer and works of compassion. The bishop under whose jurisdiction the island fell was informed that these men were completely ignorant of the doctrines and rituals of the Church. He found this fact scandalous. He visited the island and spent some time teaching these men the basic creeds and prayers of the Church. He then left the island. As his boat was getting away from the island he noticed, to his amazement, that the three holy men were following the boat, walking on the water. They reached the boat and explained that they had forgotten the words of the Lord's Prayer. The bishop told them that they should not worry about this - they did not need these words".

The Princeton Theology: Scripture, Science, & Theological Method from Archibald Alexander to Benjamin Warfield by Mark A. Noll (Baker Academic) provides an introduction to the Princeton theology-a movement that has had a major influence on the evangelicalism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This edition includes a new preface from the editor; a lengthy introduction to the topic; an anthology of the writings of Archibald Alexander, Charles Hodge, A. A. Hodge, and B. B. Warfield; and an updated bibliography of primary and secondary Princetonian sources. Noll's insightful work provides an introduction to the Princeton Theology-a movement that greatly influenced evangelicalism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
This updated edition features a new preface and a substantially augmented bibliography of primary and secondary Princetonian sources. Noll's introduction has also been lightly revised to better show the Princeton theologians in their historical contexts.
The anthology includes thirty-one readings from Archibald Alexander, Charles Hodge, A. A. Hodge, and B. B. Warfield, ranging from discussions of theological method to reflections on science.
"It is my hope," writes Noll, "that this anthology can demonstrate what may be gained by studying the Princeton theologians more historically and more dispassionately. Such study can reveal much about the nineteenth century, and it can be useful-as either model or foil-for those who do Christian theology in the twenty-first century."

On Niebuhr: A Theological Study by Langdon Gilkey (University of Chicago Press) is an excellent general introduction to both Gilkey and his mentor Niebuhr together two of the most influential American protestant twentieth-century theologians and a good entry point for understanding the kind of influence theology may exert in the twenty-first century. Gilkey considers Niebuhr's mature theology in relation to his political theory, which arose from the crises of the 1930s and 1940s. Concentrating on his subject's ideas regarding sin and history.  Gilkey dismisses interpreters of Niebuhr who see his theological language as mere rhetoric and his understanding of history as dark and pessimistic. .Gilkey gives an idea about how Niebuhr adapted the traditional teachings of St. Augustine and Martin Luther to a modern context. For Gilkey, theology not sociology is central to Niebuhr's enterprise. Niebuhr's theological emphasis on God and God's grace allowed him to abandon the liberal project without succumbing to cynicism. At the same time, Gilkey speaks in this well-written and not uncritical volume of Niebuhr's influence on his own thought. In an age as prone to cynicism as the present, Niebuhr's theologically informed ethical-political reflections are more relevant than ever. Gilkey does a real service by making Niebuhr's work accessible to a general audience without sacrificing the academic rigor characteristic of all his own work.

Blue Twilight: Nature, Creationism, and American Religion by Langdon Gilkey (Fortress) Gilkey’s latest work takes the measure of the current American religious and cultural crisis, assesses recent theological responses to it, and shows how these illumine our understanding of the ongoing creationism controversy. Throughout, Gilkey articulates a faith-stance responsive to the contemporary world of radical pluralism and moral uncertainty—without retreating to simplistic dogmatism.
Gilkey gauges the legacy of such key figures as Paul Tillich, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Karl Barth for our current situation. Long a crusader against creationism, "creation science," and the Religious Right, Gilkey shows plainly how the latter is neither religious nor right but is symptomatic of larger unanswered challenges of modernity.
Gilkey’s vision of a "blue twilight," in which light fights with dark in religion and culture, stands as a stark reminder of what is at stake in the future of American religious life.

The Theology of Langdon B. Gilkey: Systematic and Critical Studies by Kyle A. Pasewark (Mercer University Press) At the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, on 7 June 1998, in a sermon delivered at the close of the Narratives of American Religion Conference, Langdon Gilkey said: "History, . . . cannot be understood without the religious dimension that is ever‑present in it, and so theological understanding is a part of the understanding of ourselves in time. In turn, theology is meaningless unless it interprets actuality, the actuality of historical experience, of nature's processes, and of personal life."

There is no better statement of the lifework of Langdon Gilkey, theologian, teacher, interpreter of actuality. Gilkey has spent a lifetime in quest of some viable resolution of the seeming incompatibility of science and religion, the material and the spiritual, the secular and the sacred.

Thirty years ago, in a review of Gilkey's Naming the Whirlwind, John D. Godsey evaluated the theology of Langdon Gilkey Godsey's words still ring true. "There is," Godsey said, "no theological writing in America I find more profitable to read than Prof. Gilkey's. His analyses and critiques are filled with illuminating insights and pioneering thoughts; he writes with an unpretentiousness and an openness that are utterly refreshing; and there is never the slightest doubt about either his Christian commitment or his solidarity with modern secular man. This is not to say that he does not agonize occasionally over how he can be simultaneously Christian and secular, but his is a healthy agony, one with which a lot of us can identify these days." (Christian Century 87/23: 729)

Students of theology have found profitable reading in the writings of Langdon Gilkey and, indeed, have discovered there illuminating insights, pioneering thoughts, and even a healthy agony with which every serious thinker can identify. Now we have a systematic and critical evaluation, a critical exposition and appraisal of the theology of Langdon Gilkey. Editors Pasewark and Pool rightly insist that this is more than a Festschri, fl: these essays do "celebrate the life and work of Langdon Gilkey, but specifically in the context of examining the major contours of Gilkey's own theological labors." In practical terms, these essays by a corps of Gilkey's students, comprise an insightful and helpful commentary on the work and writings of Gilkey. With these pages in hand, the next generation of students surely will find reading Langdon Gilkey on the "understanding of ourselves in time" to be even more profitable.

Contents: Abbreviations Preface Jeff B. Pool Kyle A. Pasewark Part 1. Situating Gilkey's Thought Making Sense of Ultimacy: Truths of Experience in Langdon Gilkey's Theological Development Gary J. Dorrien Debts and Contributions: The Milieu of Langdon Gilkey's Theology Kyle A. Pasewark Beyond Postliberal Foundationalism: The Theological Method of Langdon Gilkey Jeff B. Pool Part 2. Gilkey's Interpretations of Culture Becoming Langdon Gilkey: The Theological Significance of Shantung Compound Joseph Bessler-Northcutt History, Society, and Politics: Langdon Gilkey's Theology of Culture Brian J. Walsh Sovereigns Past and Present: The Sciences and  the Religious in the Theology of Langdon Gilkey Donald W. Musser Relative Absoluteness: Langdon Gilkey's Approach to Religious Pluralism Mary Ann Stenger Theology, Symbolism, and Language in the Thought of Langdon Gilkey Charles E. Winquist Part 3. Gilkey's Interpretations of Christian Symbols Navigating in the Whirlwind: Langdon Gilkey's Doctrine of God Eric H. Crump Power, Freedom, and History: The Symbol of Divine Providence in Langdon Gilkey's Theology Kyle A. Pasewark
Contingency, Tragedy, Sin, and Ultimacy: Trajectories in Langdon Gilkey's Interpretations of History and Nature Larry D. Bouchard “A Sharp Turn'': Christology in a ``Time of Troubles'' James O. Yerkes
Langdon Gilkey's Theology of the Servant Church H. Frederick Reisz, Jr. Part 4. Gilkey's Practice of Theology
From Liberalism to Postmodernism: The Role of Integrity in the Thought of Langdon Gilkey Jennifer L. Rike
Pedagogy and Theological Method: The Praxis of Langdon Gilkey Joseph L. Price Part 5. Reflections
Langdon Gilkey A Retrospective Glance at My Work Langdon Gilkey Bibliography Notes on Contributors

Universal Salvation: Eschatology in the Thought of Gregory of Nyssa and Karl Rahner by Morwenna Ludlow (Oxford Theological Monographs: Oxford University Press) For nearly two thousand years Paul's suggestion at the end of 1 Corinthians 15 that God will be `all in all' has appealed to those who hold a'wider hope'-that eventually no person will be lost from God's love. Clearly, such hope for universal salvation is at variance with most Christian tradition, which has emphasized the possibility, or certainty, of eternal hell. However, a minority of Christian thinkers has advocated the idea and it has provoked much debate in the course of the twentieth century. Responding to this interest, Morwenna Ludlow compares and assesses the arguments for universal salvation by Gregory of Nyssa and Karl Rahner-two influential theologians from very different eras who are less well known for their eschatological views.

In this book Dr Ludlow gives an assessment of early Christian eschatology and its effect on modern theology by examining some fundamental questions. Does universal salvation constitute a'second tradition' of eschatology and how has that tradition developed? What can we learn from Patristic writers such as Gregory of Nyssa? How does one approach Christian eschatology in a modern context?

Morwenna Ludlow is Junior Research Fellow at St John's College, Oxford


Hence, if one were to try to retrieve a central core of belief about universal salvation from the eschatologies of Gregory and Rahner, one could perhaps state it as follows.

God created the world in order to be wholly fulfilled by God. In particular, God wills all people to be saved.

To this end, humanity was created with a gracious, but innate, tendency to reach out to God; however, this tendency was damaged in the Fall. Christ's life, death, and resurrection transfigure human life so that people are able once more to reach out to God.

Salvation is a mysterious interplay of grace and response: the initial human tendency towards God is itself gracious; revelation, and the offer and fulfillment of salvation, are due to divine grace. In this life humans should individually or collectively accept divine grace in freedom in order that it may transform them.

However, from human experience of the world, it seems very likely that some people do not have the opportunity to turn to God in their lifetime (because they die in infancy or appear to lack the capacity to respond to God), or fail to take up that opportunity (because they appear to die faithless or unrepentant of great sin). Because of the divine wish for the world to be fulfilled in its entirety, God allows at least some people to respond after, or in, death. However, this freedom to decide about God is a freedom of a somewhat curtailed sort; consequently, a change of heart about God (together with the unresolved effects of sin) will be experienced after death as judgment and punishment.

The result of a decision for God in this life or punishment in the next is the truest freedom: a life lived in union with God. This is not a radical break with the current human relationship with God, but the fulfillment of the experience of salvation now; hence, despite the ambiguity of the present life, the experience of communion with the divine in prayer is an intimation of the future life with God.

Salvation does not affect humanity alone, because the whole cosmos is aiming towards a divine consummation-a tendency which was created and is sustained by God. This notion of the eschaton as the goal of the universe does not imply human moral advance from one century to another: rather it suggests that God is the consummation towards which all people and all aspects of the universe at all times are directed. In the end, the Christian can expect, or hope, that God will indeed be `all in all'.

Is this a Christian doctrine? The framework of creation, fall, redemption and consummation is common to all Christian belief. The interpretation of this framework by Gregory and Rahner suggests that Christians are right to expect, or hope for, a universal consummation, given what has been revealed to them about God's love in creation and redemption. This may lead some theologians to accuse them of underestimating the damage caused by human waywardness, epitomized by the idea of the Fall. Human freedom, it may be argued, inevitably leads to sin. However, neither Gregory nor Rahner fails to take evil and sin seriously: Rahner in particular, living in the centre of Europe, and experiencing two world wars and most of the Cold War, was acutely aware of the human capacity for evil. His doctrine of purgatory is not just about allowing an opportunity for some people to decide for God after their deaths; rather it is primarily the context in which even those who have turned to God experience the effects of sin. It is thus an acknowledgement that much sin can remain unresolved in this life. Gregory can be accused with more reason than Rahner of being too optimistic about the human condition, but his more pastoral writings show that he does not underestimate suffering and it can be argued that his eschatological optimism springs precisely from a pessimistic view of the current evil in the world. More fundamentally, however, to the extent to which Gregory and Rahner are optimistic, their optimism is based not on human capabilities, but on divine power and love.

Indeed, other theologians might want to argue that Gregory's and Rahner's hope for universal salvation is because it rests too heavily on divine power and love to the exclusion of human freedom. Faith is meaningless, they would argue, unless it is completely free. However, although this may be true if one sees faith as a purely cognitive commitment, it has been seen that neither Gregory nor Rahner sees the response to God in those terms. Indeed, the complexity of Rahner’s concept of decision forces one to ask whether humans ever have that sort of absolute autonomy to decide which many theologians assumes. Furthermore, the suggestion in Gregory's writings that the truest freedom is living in union with God (and thus having lost the freedom to decide against him) must be considered seriously: although certain sorts of freedom are valuable, is there value in the sort of freedom which allows the creation ultimately to fall short of God's intention for it? Those who think that there is not, can affirm with Gregory that God's plans for the positive fulfillment of the whole world will come to fruition, albeit through punishment which may appear coercive. Others may feel that room should be left for an individual commitment of faith, which is free in some meaningful sense, although not completely autonomous. They can express a prayerful hope that all people will use this freedom to decide for God and that the whole universe will be fulfilled.

A third criticism that might be raised is that neither Gregory nor Rahner gives an appropriately central role to Christ. In particular, this might appear to be the case in the light of the accounts given of Gregory's and Rahner's eschatologies in this book. However, although it is true that Christ is not so prominent in the writing of Gregory and Rahner as he is in some other theologians, such a criticism is not completely fair. In the first place, the present study has concentrated on soteriology only in its eschatological dimension and eschatology mainly in its universal scope. Neither theologian doubts that Christ died for all: the question, as they see it, is whether all will benefit from his death and resurrection. Thus the debate has centered on the human reception of the divine grace of salvation through Christ and not on Christ's atoning death and resurrection in themselves. Although, as we have seen, even the human response to God is itself infused with the divine, this presence of God is seen more in terms of the Spirit, if it is assigned to one member of the Trinity at all. (Rahner, in his discussion of decision, tends to talk of God, rather than of Father, Son, or Spirit.) Secondly, Christ does appear in the account each gives of specific eschatological doctrines: for example, Gregory's interpretation of Philippians 2: 10 suggests that the experience of bowing the knee to Christ is to be linked with both judgment and punishment. Rahner is more hesitant about assigning a specific eschatological role to Christ, largely because he moves away from the more pictorial expressions of eschatological events such as the parousia. However, although he does question the usefulness of some of the traditional imagery, he does not attempt to deny the eschatological presence and action of Christ-for example, both Gregory and Rahner connect their accounts of the resurrection with that of Christ, the `first-fruits' of all creation. Finally, Christ has an important structural role in the eschatologies of each. Clearly, for Gregory, 1 Corinthians 15 is vital: all things will be submitted to Christ and he will then submit them to the Father. Thus the end of the universe is linked with the beginning in that all things were created through the Word and all will come to their end through him. For Rahner, Christ is the hermeneutical key to all eschatological assertions. Consummation is the fulfillment of the experience of salvation now and that experience is precisely `faith in the incarnation of the Logos, in the death and resurrection of Christ' .2` Thus Rahner is right to emphasize that eschatology must be Christology and anthropology transposed into a hope for their fulfillment. The reason why this book has concentrated more on the anthropological issues is because it is precisely the human response to salvation that is in doubt, not the potentially universal effectiveness of Christ's salvific acts.

Clearly, there will be differing opinions as to what the criterion of a Christian doctrine is and this is not the place to discuss that issue in detail. Nevertheless, although Rahner and Gregory express a belief with which not all Christians would agree, there are good grounds for thinking theirs is a Christian belief-particularly if it is expressed as a hope rather than as a certain prediction.

 The Anthropological Turn: The Human Orientation of the Theology of Karl Rahner by Anton Losinger translated and with a foreword by Daniel O. Dahlstrom (Moral Philosophy and Moral Theology, 2: Fordham University Press)  (PAPERBACK) The form and content of the study of theology in the present, modern epoch are marked by a vast quantity and variety of the most diverse and, in part, the most divergent points of departure. The classical unity and perspicuity of the world of theological thought, so typical in earlier centuries, has dissolved with the plurality of the horizons and problems of modern thinking. The reality of the world, science, and theology appears no longer as a single "orbis," but rather as an open and unbounded space. Indeed, precisely for the study of theology in modern universities, the catchphrase, the "new vastness," thus appears to hold as well.

The Holy Spirit: Works & Gifts by Donald G. Bloesch (Intervarsity Press) aptly brings his grasp of historical and systematic theology together with his deep concern for spirituality. The fruit of a lifetime of study and devotion, this work masterfully interweaves biblical study, historical overviews, and reflection on contemporary developments and issues to shed light on faith in God the Holy Spirit. On a topic that sadly threatens to divide the church, Bloesch strives to build bridges between the various traditions of Christian faith, especially between Reformed theology and the Pentecostal movement.

Building on the inaugural volume of this series, A Theology of Word & Spirit, Bloesch guards against the equal dangers of a subjective spiritualism and a cold formalism. He speaks out of the perspective of the Protestant Reformation with its emphasis on the complementarity of Word and Spirit and the priority of grace over works. But he also acknowledges the Pentecostal perception that the work of the Spirit involves empowering for witness as well as sealing for salvation. Bloesch likewise finds truth in the mystical tradition of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy that the Spirit calls us to holiness of life as well as to a decision of faith.

This wide-ranging and in-depth reflection on the presence, reality and ministry of the Holy Spirit serves as a landmark guide to those seeking a faithful theological understanding of the Holy Spirit as well as those searching for a renewing and empowering hope for the church of Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit is the fifth volume of Donald Bloesch's comprehensive seven-volume systematic theology, Christian Foundations. Also available are the first four volumes in the series: A Theology of Word & Spirit, Holy Scripture, God the Almighty and Jesus Christ. The last two volumes will examine the church and the sacraments, and eschatology.

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