Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Incarnational Humanism

Jens Zimmermann, Incarnational Humanism: A Philosophy of Culture for the Church in the World. IVP Academic, 2012. ISBN: 978-0-8308-3903-2., 356 pages.

Zimmermann's Incarnational Humanism argues for a recovery of Christian Humanism that is rooted in the beginning of the Christian Church. One can even consider this work as picking up where Mark Noll left off in his popular recent book, Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind, 2011. Noll had argued for the importance on the life of the mind because of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. The incarnation affirms human life and this world. Zimmerman's book seeks to show how the Christian Tradition and the Incarnation of Christ affirms a Christian Humanism.

Incarnational Humanism is written for Evangelicals. He wrote a companion volume, Religion and Humanism, for a broader audience. Incarnational Humanism seeks to dispel certain myths held by some evangelicals. One of these myths is that humanism means secular humanism. He does this in the early chapters of the book by drawing from the writings of the Church Fathers, Medieval and Renaissance writers which sources prove that they held to a Christian Humanism. Zimmermann believes that this Christian Humanism is a successful tool for engaging modern culture.

In the later parts of the book he looks at the rise of anti-humanism among certain modern thinkers like Kant and Nietzche. He also looks at some modern thinkers who have tried to recover an Incarnational Humanism. The last chapter is his prescription for an Incarnational Humanism that can engage modern culture.

Incarnational Humanism is well-written and Zimmermann shows a great command of his sources. The footnotes are informative and even function as a second text. He draws from many rich sources in the Christian tradition. He is very knowledgeable of both Protestant and Roman Catholic sources. This book will be helpful in recovering a Christian Humanism for today's church. 

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