Monday, July 7, 2014

Postliberal Theology and the Church Catholic

Postliberal Theology and the Church Catholic: Conversations with George Lindbeck, David Burrell, Stanley Hauerwas, edited by John Wright. Baker Academic, 2012. 159 pages. ISBN 978-0-8010-3982-9.

Many of the books I have been reading refers to postliberal theology. It is sometimes referred to as the Yale theology. This is one of the reasons I decided to read this book. For example, James K. A. Smith has a chapter on George Lindbeck in his book, Who's Afraid of Relativism. Postliberal theology and the Church Catholic is centered around interviews with three prominent theologians who are associated with and considered first generation postliberal theologians. Burrell is not associated as much with postliberal theology as Hauerewas and Lindbeck. Another important theme of these three writers is how their theology is in conversation with the Catholic church. All three authors believe we need to work from this tradition even though only one of the authors is Roman Catholic and the editor is Nazarene.

Wright includes an excellent introduction that situates the interviews and the theologians. There are three chapters on individual interviews with each of the theologians. There is also an additional chapter of an interview with the theologians in conversation. Wright includes a closing chapter where he summarizes what has gone before and tries to show the implications for the universal church working towards unity. He asks the question, Is the reformation over? He does not think it is over but is optimistic about relations between Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox.

The purpose of this book is "to place postliberal theology within the broader stream of the 'Tradition of the Great Church' (4). Wright states that postliberal theology is "radical" liberal because it wants to update the "faith given to the saints" (4). It is "radically conservative" because it wants the faith to return to "the normative historical sources of the faith" (4).

Postliberal Theology is a good introduction to Postliberal theology and three prominent theologians. The theologians represent three different traditions: Roman Catholics, Lutheran, and Methodist. Lindbeck's major contribution is that he has pointed us back to the "normative historical sources of our faith." Hauerwas' contribution has been his emphasis on narrative theology and integrating The Great Christian Tradition of the Church to theology. Burrell's major contribution is dialogues between Christians, Muslims, and Jews. This book is recommended for those interested in living out the ancient faith in today's world.

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