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The Biblical Politics of John Locke

John Locke is often thought of as one of the founders of the Enlightenment, a movement that sought to do away with the Bible and religion and replace them with scientific realism. But Locke was extremely interested in the Bible, and he was engaged by biblical theology and religion throughout his life. In this new book, K.I. Parker considers Locke’s interest in Scripture and how that interest is articulated in the development of his political philosophy.

Parker shows that Locke’s liberalism is inspired by his religious vision and, particularly, his distinctive understanding of the early chapters of the book of Genesis. Unlike Sir Robert Filmer, who understood the Bible to justify social hierarchies (i.e., the divine right of the king, the first-born son’s rights over other siblings, and the “natural” subservience of women to men), Locke understood from the Bible that humans are in a natural state of freedom and equality to each other. The biblical debate between Filmer and Locke furnishes scholars with a better understanding of Lockes political views as presented in his Two Treatises.

The Biblical Politics of John Locke demonstrates the impact of the Bible on one of the most influential thinkers of the seventeenth century, and provides an original context in which to situate the debate concerning the origins of early modern political thought.

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The Call of Conscience

French Protestant Responses to the Algerian War, 1954-1962

Initially, when the government in Paris responded with force to the November 1, 1954 insurrection of Algerian nationalists, French public opinion offered all but unanimous support. Then it was revealed that hundreds of thousands of Muslims were herded into resettlement camps in Algeria; that Algerians suspected of nationalist sympathies were imprisoned in France; that conscientious objectors were denied their rights; and that a resolution to the conflict, either by force or by peaceful methods, was not forthcoming. When it was proven that the army was guilty of abuses, members of the Protestant minority protested and then laboured to educate their own communities as well as the public at large to the moral and spiritual perils of these actions.

Based on painstaking research and solid scholarship, The Call of Conscience: French Protestant Responses to the Algeria War, 1954-1962 reveals a rich portrait of the protest.

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Clinical Pastoral Supervision and the Theology of Charles Gerkin

In the last twenty years, the number of texts written on clinical pastoral supervision has accelerated. Thomas St. James O’Connor analyzes these texts, nearly 300 of them, in light of three fundamental questions about the praxis of clinical pastoral supervision: (1)what is distinctive about the praxis? (2)what is an appropriate theological method for the praxis? and, (3)what is an adequate praxis? In doing so, he formulates three approaches: the social science, the hermeneutic and the special interest.

Looking at the theology of Charles Gerkin, a pastoral theologian and family therapist, O’Connor develops a conversation between Gerkin’s theology and the texts. The theological methods in the three approaches are critiqued and Gerkin’s praxis/theory/praxis method is endorsed. Case examples are used throughout to illustrate theory and issues discussed and to aid in the presentation of an adequate praxis.

Clinical Pastoral Supervision and the Theology of Charles Gerkin provides a unique overview of the history and current state of clinical pastoral supervision and an understanding of its methodology and theological foundations. More than that, it builds on the practical theory of Charles Gerkin, expanding it for immediate use in the practice of ministry.

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The Concept of Equity in Calvin’s Ethics

Ever since Calvin wrote his Institutes of the Christian Religion, admonishing the reader that “it would not be difficult for him to determine what he ought especially to seek in Scriptures, and to what end he ought to relate its contents,” scholars have endeavoured to identify a doctrine or theme at the heart of his theology. In his landmark book The Concept of Equity in Calvin’s Ethics, Guenther Haas concludes that the concept of equity is the theme of central importance in Calvin’s social ethic, in a similar way that union with Christ lies at the heart of his theology.

Haas provides, in Part One, a brief survey of the development of the concept of equity from Aristotle to the scholastics, and as it was used by Calvin’s contemporaries. Haas also examines the influences on Calvin’s thinking before and after his conversion to Protestantism, with special attention paid to those influences that employed the concept of equity.

In the heart of this study, Part Two, “Equity in Calvin’s Ethics,” Haas presents a thorough exposition and analysis of the extensive role the concept of equity plays in Calvin’s ethics, demonstrating that Calvin’s approach to ethics is not restricted to meditation of Scripture text.

This book will force a re-examination of approaches to Calvin studies that have not appreciated the historical context and background of Calvin’s thought. The Concept of Equity in Calvin’s Ethics establishes that the Protestant tradition in Christian ethics, founded by Calvin, has a distinctive and vital contribution to make to Christian ethics, as well as to the broader discussion of social ethics as they are practised today.

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The Costa Rican Catholic Church, Social Justice, and the Rights of Workers, 1979-1996

Provides a new understanding of the relationship between Church and State in 20th-century Costa Rica.

Understanding the relationship between religion and social justice in Costa Rica involves piecing together the complex interrelationships between Church and State — between priests, popes, politics, and the people. This book does just that.

Dana Sawchuk chronicles the fortunes of the country’s two competing forms of labour organizations during the 1980s and demonstrates how different factions within the Church came to support either the union movement or Costa Rica’s home-grown Solidarity movement.

Challenging the conventional understanding of Costa Rica as a wholly peaceful and prosperous nation, and traditional interpretations of Catholic Social Teaching, this book introduces readers to a Church largely unknown outside Costa Rica. Sawchuk has carefully analyzed material from a multitude of sources — interviews, newspapers, books, and articles, as well as official Church documents, editorials, and statements by Church representativesto provide a firmly rooted socio-economic history of the experiences of workers, and the Catholic Church’s responses to workers in Costa Rica.

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The Doctrine of Humanity in the Theology of Reinhold Niebuhr

Reinhold Niebuhr was a twentieth-century American theologian who was known for his commentary on public affairs. One of his most influential ideas was the relating of his Christian faith to realism rather than idealism in foreign affairs. His perspective influenced many liberals and is enjoying a resurgence today; most recently Barack Obama has acknowledged Niebuhr’s importance to his own thinking.

In this book, Kenneth Hamilton makes a claim that no other work on Niebuhr has made—that Niebuhr’s chief and abiding preoccupation throughout his long career was the nature of humankind. Hamilton engages in a close reading of Niebuhr’s entire oeuvre through this lens. He argues that this preoccupation remained consistent throughout Niebuhr’s writings, and that through his doctrine of humankind one gets a full sense of Niebuhr the theologian. Hamilton exposes not only the internal consistency of Niebuhr’s project but also its aporia. Although Niebuhr’s influence perhaps peaked in the mid-twentieth century, enthusiasm for his approach to religion and politics has never waned from the North American public theology, and this work remains relevant today.

Although Hamilton wrote this thesis in the mid-1960s it is published here for the first time. Jane Barter Moulaison, in her editorial gloss and introduction, demonstrates the abiding significance of Hamilton’s work to the study of Niebuhr by bringing it into conversation with subsequent writings on Niebuhr, particularly as he is re-appropriated by twenty-first-century American theology.

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Edward Schillebeeckx and Hans Frei

A Conversation on Method and Christology

What is “theological method”? Can there be more than one method? If so, how do you choose between them? How does method relate to experience?

Would experience affect your choice of method and method affect experience?

Abdul-Masih offers a three-part proposition. The first is that theological method is influenced by theological reasoning. That is, beliefs about the doctrines of revelation and God’s activity will shape one’s attitude toward experience. Your convictions provide a broad definition of “experience,” and determine how it is to be used.

Her second proposition is that one’s attitude toward experience and its use will, in turn, shape subsequent theology. In other words, the relationship between theological method and subsequent theological discourse is circular—or, more accurately, a spiral.

Her third proposition is that “experience” is itself contextual, and therefore there is no right or wrong choice but rather a plurality of methods.

To expand upon and illustrate her claim, Abdul-Masih analyzes, throughout her book, the methods of Edward Schillebeeckx and Hans Frei, who represent the tension in contemporary theology surrounding the issue of experience.

Edward Schillebeeckx and Hans Frei: A Conversation on Method and Christology is a book that will challenge and enlighten those who wish to expand their understanding of theological methodology.

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Faith and Fiction

A Theological Critique of the Narrative Strategies of Hugh MacLennan and Morley Callaghan

Is it possible to write an artistically respectable and theoretically convincing religious novel in a non-religious age?

Up to now, there has been no substantial application of theological criticism to the works of Hugh MacLennan and Morley Callaghan, the two most important Canadian novelists before 1960. Yet both were religious writers during the period when Canada entered the modern, non-religious era, and both greatly influenced the development of our literature. MacLennan’s journey from Calvinism to Christian existentialism is documented in his essays and seven novels, most fully in The Watch that Ends the Night.

Callaghan’s fourteen novels are marked by tensions in his theology of Catholic humanism, with his later novels defining his theological themes in increasingly secular terms. This tension between narrative and metanarrative has produced both the artistic strengths and the moral ambiguities that characterize his work.

Faith and Fiction: A Theological Critique of the Narrative Strategies of Hugh MacLennan and Morley Callaghan is a significant contribution to the relatively new field studying the relation between religion and literature in Canada.

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Fifty Years of Religious Studies in Canada

A Personal Retrospective

In Canadian universities in the early 1960s, no courses were offered on Hinduism, Buddhism, or Islam. Only the study of Christianity was available, usually in a theology program in a church college or seminary. Today almost every university in North America has a religious studies department that offers courses on Western and Eastern religions as well as religion in general. Harold Coward addresses this change in this memoir of his forty-five-year career in the development of religious studies as a new academic field in Canada. He also addresses the shift from theology classes in seminaries to non-sectarian religious studies faculties of arts and humanities; the birth and growth of departments across Canada from the 1960s to the present; the contribution of McMaster University to religious studies in Canada and Coward’s Ph.D. experience there; the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at the University of Victoria; and the future of religious studies as a truly interdisciplinary enterprise.

Coward’s retrospective, while not a history as such, documents information from his varied experience and wide network of colleagues that is essential for a future formal history of the discipline. His story is both personally engaging and richly informative about the development of the field.

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The Five Aggregates

Understanding Theravada Psychology and Soteriology

If Buddhism denies a permanent self, how does it perceive identity? According to Buddhist texts, the entire universe, including the individual, is made up of different phenomena, which Buddhism classifies into different categories: what we conventionally call a “person” can be understood in terms of five aggregates, the sum of which must not be taken for a permanent entity, since beings are nothing but an amalgam of ever-changing phenomena. Although the aggregates are only a “convenient fiction,” the Buddha nevertheless made frequent use of the aggregate scheme when asked to explain the elements at work in the individual.

In this study Mathieu Boisvert presents a detailed analysis of the five aggregates (pañcakkhandhā) and establishes how the Theravāda tradition views their interaction. He clarifies the fundamentals of Buddhist psychology by providing a rigorous examination of the nature and interrelation of each of the aggregates and by establishing, for the first time, how the function of each of these aggregates chains beings to the cycle of birth, death and rebirth — the theory of dependent origination (paticcasamuppāda). Boisvert contends that without a thorough understanding of the five aggregates, we cannot grasp the liberation process at work within the individual, who is, after all, simply an amalgam of the five aggregates.

The Five Aggregates represents an important and original contribution to Buddhist studies and will be of great interest to all scholars and students of Buddhism.

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