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Contemporary Christologies Cover

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Contemporary Christologies

A Fortress Introduction

By Don Schweitzer

While many know of the signal contributions of such twentieth-century giants as Paul Tillich or Karl Barth or Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the important work since their time often goes unremarked until some major controversy erupts. Here is a smart and helpful survey of the chief approaches and thinkers in today's understanding of the person, significance, and work of Jesus Christ.

Schweitzer offers an insightful introduction to the contemporary context of Christology, in which basic questions in the discipline (and soteriology) are being rethought in light of globalization, postmodernity, and the contemporary experience of evil.

Schweitzer's volume concludes with a reflection on the recent past and present imperatives of a discipline that virtually defines what Christianity has to offer the present age.

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Convenient Myths

The Axial Age, Dark Green Religion, and the World That Never Was

Iain Provan

The contemporary world has been shaped by two important and potent myths. Karl Jaspers’ construct of the “axial age” envisions the common past (800-200 BC), the time when Western society was born and world religions spontaneously and independently appeared out of a seemingly shared value set. Conversely, the myth of the “dark green golden age” as narrated by David Suzuki and others asserts that the axial age, and the otherworldliness that accompanied the emergence of organized religion, ripped society from a previously deep communion with nature. Both myths contend that to maintain balance we must return to the idealized past. In Convenient Myths, Iain Provan illuminates the influence of these two deeply entrenched and questionable myths, warns of their potential dangers, and forebodingly maps the implications of a world founded on such myths.

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The Courage of Faith

Martin Luther and the Theonomous Self

By Mary Gaebler

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.

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Creator God, Evolving World

by Cynthia Crysdale and Neil Ormerod

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.

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The Critical Calling

When Richard A. McCormick's The Critical Calling was first published, Andrew M. Greeley commented that in years to come scholars will look back on Father McCormick's work and say, 'This was a man who knew what he was talking about!' In this reissue, with

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Cross and Resurrection

God's Wonder and Mystery

by Klaus Schwarzwäller; translated by Ken Sundet Jones and Mark C. Mattes

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.

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Decoding Roger Williams

The Lost Essay of Rhode Island’s Founding Father

Linford D. Fisher

Near the end of his life, Roger Williams, Rhode Island founder and father of American religious freedom, scrawled an encrypted essay in the margins of a colonial-era book. For more than 300 years those shorthand notes remained indecipherable... ...until a team of Brown University undergraduates led by Lucas Mason-Brown cracked Williams’ code after the marginalia languished for over a century in the archives of the John Carter Brown Library. At the time of Williams’ writing, a trans-Atlantic debate on infant versus believer’s baptism had taken shape that included London Baptist minister John Norcott and the famous Puritan “Apostle to the Indians,” John Eliot. Amazingly, Williams’ code contained a previously undiscovered essay, which was a point-by-point refutation of Eliot’s book supporting infant baptism. History professors Linford D. Fisher and J. Stanley Lemons immediately recognized the importance of what turned out to be theologian Roger Williams’ final treatise. Decoding Roger Williams reveals for the first time Williams’ translated and annotated essay, along with a critical essay by Fisher, Lemons, and Mason-Brown and reprints of the original Norcott and Eliot tracts.

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Decolonizing Epistemologies

Latina/o Theology and Philosophy

This anthology gathers the work of three generations of Latina/o theologians and philosopher who have taken up the task of decolonizing epistemology by transforming their respective disciplines from the standpoint liberation thought and of what has been called the “decolonial turn” in social theory, theology, and philosophy. At the heart of this collection is the unveiling of subjugated knowledge elaborated by Latina/o scholars who take seriously their social location and that of their communities of accountability and how these impact the development of a different episteme. Refusing to continue to allow to be made invisible by the dominant discourse, this group of scholars show the unsuspecting and original ways in which Latina/o social and historical loci in the US are generative places for the creation of new matrixes of knowledge. The book articulates a new point of departure for the self-understanding of Latina/os, for other marginalized and oppress groups, and for all those seeking to engage the move beyond coloniality as it continues to be present in this age of globalization.

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Defending Probabilism

The Moral Theology of Juan Caramuel

Through the centuries, at the heart of Catholic moral theology is a fundamental question: How do we behave responsibly in the face of moral uncertainty? Attempts to resolve problems of everyday life led to the growth of a variety of moral systems, one of which emerged in the early 17th century and was known as "probabilism." This method of solving difficult moral cases allowed the believer to rely upon a view that was judged defensible in terms of its arguments or the authorities behind it, even if the opposite opinion was supported by stronger arguments or more authorities. The theologian Juan Caramuel, a Spanish Cistercian monk whom Alphonso Liguori famously characterized as "the prince of laxists," has been regarded as one of the more extreme—and notorious—proponents of probabilism. As the only full-length English study of Caramuel's theological method, Defending Probabilism seeks to reappraise Caramuel's legacy, claiming that his model of moral thinking, if better understood, can actually be of help to the Church today. Considered one of the most erudite theologians of his age, a scientist and scholar who published works on everything from astronomy and architecture to printing and Gregorian chant, Caramuel strove throughout his life to understand probabilism's theological and philosophical foundations as part of his broader analysis of the nature of human knowledge. In applying Caramuel's legacy to our own time, Defending Probabilism calls for a reconsideration of the value of provisional moral knowledge. Fleming's study shows that history matters, and that to attain any position on moral certitude is a difficult and painstaking process.

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Deus providebit

Calvin, Schleiermacher, and Barth on the Providence of God

by Sung-Sup Kim

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.

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