Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 128:512 (Oct 1971)
Article: Periodical Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Periodical Reviews

“The Church and the Making of a Counter Culture,” Richard Shaull, The Chicago Theological Seminary Register, May, 1971.

When one reads this article completely through, Shakespeare’s words, obviously taken out of context, will come to mind, “Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” It reminded me of Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer once confessed that whenever he passed a Christian Science Reading Room he stopped and read the portion from Science and Health as well as the Bible portion. The Scriptures always blessed him, but he could never make sense of Mrs. Eddy’s writings. This encouraged him that he was a child of God, because he remembered Christ’s words, “My sheep hear my voice…and they follow me” and “A stranger will they not follow…for they know not the voice of strangers” (John 10:27, 5).

Two ideas filter through the welter of abstractions, however. One is the conviction that a new culture is being formed. Shaull believes “that we are in the midst of a cultural breakdown similar to that which occurred in the Greco-Roman world from the Third Century B.C. to the First Century A.D.” (p. 15). At that point “Church civilization arose, renewing and re-creating the world by the infusion of new ideas and new blood” (p. 18). Today we are in a similar situation, according to Shaull. “Everywhere people, especially of a younger generation, are attempting to break free of these dichotomies through a new emphasis upon and immersion in experience” (p. 16). To follow the pattern Shaull is committed to the Church taking the lead in formulating the new culture.

The second emphasis is that to lead in the making of a new culture, Christianity must be radically changed. Shaull has little or no concept of the Christian faith as having a foundation in an immutable revelation of God. He concludes as a result, “To affirm that the Christian heritage provides resources for the task ahead of us means that these resources

will have to be re-discovered—it might be better to say re-invented—in the situation in which we now find ourselves” (p. 20). His final paragraph begins, “It would be easy for us to drag out the old theological labels for all of this, but that would not help us very much. What does seem exciting to me is the possibility that, as we live this way, a new language will emerge to surprise us” (p. 27).

If Shaull is so excited about being in the vanguard of developing this new culture which will destroy ecclesiastical institutions as they exist today, why does he hang on to his cushy seminary professorsh...

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