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Receiving Vatican II in History
The year 2015 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council. In light of recent developments—especially the resignation of Benedict XVI, the election of Pope Francis, and the Bishops’ Synods of October 2014 and 2015—this volume provides an analysis of Vatican II, the most decisive and far-reaching event in the modern Catholic Church. Explicating pivotal elements of the Council, its decision-making process and the deep consequences of its final decisions, Massimo Faggioli contributes an accessible presentation of the significance of Vatican II for the church and its life in the modern world beyond the boundaries of the Roman Catholic Church. As the Council, since its conclusion, has been subjected to various interpretations—a matter of not little controversy—the volume explores the contours of subsequent interpretation and variations in approach, especially those that have marked the eras of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Despite these controversies, however, the Council lives on, the author argues, in theology, especially the ad intra and ad extra dimensions of reform in the liturgy, the church and the modern world, and religious freedom, continuing to have global impact on Catholics and non-Catholics.
Martin Luther and the Theonomous Self
The steep challenge of personal change is no less keen today than in Martin Luther’s day, and this book takes a new look at his important work. Luther’s notorious denial of personal agency apart from the grace of God, and his scoffing at any but the most spontaneous works of Christian life, have recently rankled both critics of classic Lutheran theology and ecumenical dialogue partners. In this book, theologian and ethicist Mary Gaebler offers a critical corrective to the historical record and theological assumptions about human being and human agency. She not only shows how Luther’s thinking on the will and effective agency evolved, she shows a deeper coherence in his thinking that guided him through successive vocations as a monk, a public figure, a spouse and father, and pastor. In addition, she shows Luther’s anthropology became increasingly open, with a growing affirmation of the created order and the recognition of faith’s role in the transformation of the world, leading to Luther’s exhortation to take courage in God’s transforming presence for the good of all.
Toward a Theological Model for Creativity in the Arts
Theological interest in art is at a premium. However, theological engagement with art is often enacted without a clear sense of method. This text argues for a theological methodology in engaging the arts, and, specifically, the author puts forward a theological model for understanding human creativity in the light of Jesus’ sacrificial redemption. In dialogue with theology, philosophy, psychology, and art theory, the author establishes the relevance and applicability of an incarnational and sacrificial model of human creativity. Theological models also do more than provide a conceptual framework for theological inquiries. They engage the imagination. A theological model for human creativity is like an invitation to join in the creative vision God has for the world, and to embody this vision in one’s own creative work. Therefore, Creativity as Sacrifice does not merely articulate a conceptual framework for human creativity; it also casts a vision for human life as a creative response to the gracious gifts of a creative God.
Cynthia Crysdale and Neil Ormerod here present a robust theology of God in light of supposed tensions between Christian belief and evolutionary science. A truly intelligent and accessible defense of the compatibility of classical theism with the evolutionary worldview, this volume is an important and provocative contribution to the debate. Creator God, Evolving World clarifies a number of confused assumptions in an effort to redeem chance as an intelligible force interacting with stable patterns in nature.
By clarifying terms often used imprecisely in both scientific and theological discourse, the authors make the case that the role of chance in evolution neither mitigates God's radical otherness from creation nor challenges the efficacy of God's providence in the world. Finally, this view of God and the evolving world yields implications for our understanding of human action. Moral agency, even God's work of redemption, unfolds according to an ethic of risk rather than by the quick fix of determinative control.
God's Wonder and Mystery
German theologian, Klaus Schwarzwäller reclaims Christ's cross and resurrection as God's wonder and mystery. He connects with art, history, contemporary culture, and especially scripture in presenting a trenchant analysis of the modes of power and production that have undergirded both society and the church since the Enlightenment.
The church in the present era comes under the power of the Enlightenment's quest for truth in the measurable, reproducible, and rational. The proof of the Spirit’s power thus comes to depend on the criteria of reason and theory, rather than on the Spirit’s work in the reality of daily life.
When the church and theology operate in this way, the cross and resurrection become something that requires our management, manipulation, or expert interpretation. Thus, the church and theology wind up existing for their own ends, and freedom and faith are replaced with brutal indifference and control.
The truth of the gospel is that on the cross Christ bore the brunt of power and production that could not bear his utter devotion to God and care for the powerless. The cross excludes our control and the power of the resurrection ensures that the negativity of human life borne on the cross will be overcome.
Schwarzwäller calls the church and theologians to relinquish both their conformity to society and the indifference that power and production create and instead focus on tending to God’s word so that the cross and resurrection are again revealed as God’s wonder and mystery.
Violence against Women and the Church's Response
In this comprehensive, practical, and gripping assessment of various forms of violence against women, Pamela Cooper-White challenges the Christian churches to examine their own responses to the cry of Tamar in our time. She describes specific forms of such violence and outlines appropriate pastoral responses.
The second edition of this groundbreaking work is thoroughly updated and examines not only where the church has made progress since 1995 but also where women remain at unchanged or even greater risk of violence.
Fathers, sons, and mothers take center stage in the Bible’s grand narratives, Amy Kalmanofsky observes. Sisters and sisterhood receive less attention in scholarship but, she argues, play an important role in narratives, revealing anxieties related to desire, agency, and solidarity among women playing out (and playing against) their roles in a patrilineal society. Most often, she shows, sisters are destabilizing figures in narratives about family crisis, where property, patrimony, and the resilience of community boundaries are at risk. Kalmanofsky demonstrates that the particular role of sisters had important narrative effects, revealing previously underappreciated dynamics in Israelite society.
Preaching, Death, and Hope
In an age when the so-called prosperity gospel holds sway in many Christian communities or the good news of Christ is reduced to feel-good bromides, it would seem that death has little place in contemporary preaching. Embracing the vision of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37 as a metaphor for preaching in the Spirit, acclaimed homiletician Luke Powery asserts that death is the context for all preaching. In fact, the Spirit leads preachers to the context of death each Sunday in order to proclaim a word of life that ultimately breathes hope into people's lives. Yet many preachers avoid death because they are at a loss of what to say about it and do not realize its vital connection to the substance of Christian hope. As a result the church is too often left with sermons that are fundamentally devoid of hope.
Dem Dry Bones aims to remedy some of the theological and homiletical shortcomings in contemporary preaching by looking closely at the African American spirituals tradition. Through this study, Powery demonstrates how to preach in the Spirit so that proclaiming death becomes an avenue toward hope. In short: no death, no hope.
Calvin, Schleiermacher, and Barth on the Providence of God
This dissertation stages an intervention in Reformed readings of the doctrine of providence, particularly around Barth’s critical interpretation of the tradition stemming from Calvin and Schleiermacher, and provides a critical and constructive assessment of Barth’s contribution. The author argues that while Barth advances the discussion in key ways, his reading of Calvin in particular is significantly hampered by his running challenge to Schleiermacher.
Following an assessment of Barth’s critique of the Reformed position, the author provides an extensive reading of Calvin’s writings, demonstrating that Calvin is far more concerned with the Christological basis and Christian meaning of providence than Barth’s theology recognizes; as well, Schleiermacher’s theological construction problematizes aspects of Barth’s reading.
The upshot of this work is that each of these theologians provide critical safeguards and soundings that need to be heard in concert and mutual correction for a robust doctrine of divine providence.
Broadening Reformed Theology
Deviant Calvinism seeks to show that the Reformed tradition is much broader and more variegated than is often thought. Crisp’s work focuses on a cluster of theological issues concerning the scope of salvation and shows that there are important ways in which current theological discussion of these topics can be usefully resourced by attention to theologians of the past.
The scope of atonement, in particular, is once again a hot topic in current evangelical theology. This volume addresses that issue via discussion of eternal justification, whether Calvinists can be free-will libertarians (like Arminian theologians); whether the Reformed should be universalists, and if they are not, why not; whether Reformed theology is consistent with a universal atonement; and whether the hypothetical universalism of some Calvinists is actually as eccentric and strange a doctrine as is sometimes thought. This book contributes to theological retrieval within the Reformed theology, and establishes a wider path to thinking Calvinism differently.