Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BSac 132:528 (Oct 75) p. 358
“Whatever Happened to Theology?” Christianity and Crisis, May 12, 1975.
This entire issue is devoted to this question, providing reflections from a dozen spokesmen-excuse me, spokespersons-of liberally oriented Christendom. In order of publication they are Wallace M. Alston, Jr., Van A. Harvey, Rosemary Ruether, Gordon D. Kautman, Jose Miguez Bonino, Roger L. Shinn, Carol Christ, Harvey Cox, Frederick Herzog, John Cobb, Tom F. Driver, and David Tracy.
Interestingly, not even one neoevangelical is on the list, to say nothing of a fundamentalist. This may not be the fault of the magazine, since an explanatory preface states that invitations to respond were sent to “as wide-ranging a group of persons as we could.” Perhaps the numerous fundamentalists and neoevangelicals who received invitations simply failed to respond.
The preface also explains how the symposium issue came about. At an informal meeting of some of the journal’s contributing editors and editorial advisory committee in November, 1974, “the conversation was brisk and animated so long as we discussed social, economic, and political questions, but when someone suggested that we begin talking about theology, there was dead silence!” They decided to do something about that silence.
The responses run the gamut from Ruether’s discourse on “the demise of such systematic theology,” to Bonino’s claim that theology is alive and well in the “third world,” to Cox’s insistence that it has gone underground, to Carol Christ’s judgment that “theology is boring” until it becomes “vulnerable to experience.” The most incisive response is Alston’s, the sole respondent who is a pastor, who indicts “the pragmatization of theology by the so-called religious ‘professionals.’“ He accuses
BSac 132:528 (Oct 75) p. 359
them of equating “theology with anthropology” and turning “theology into little more than a derivative of pragmatic concerns.”
The validity of Alston’s charges reveals the irony of Christianity and Crisis devoting an issue to the question, “Whatever Happened to Theology?” Few magazines have been more responsible for making theology “little more than a derivative of pragmatic concerns” than Christianity and Crisis. Like the prophetic picture concerning her Lord, theology can answer the question, “What are these wounds in shine hands?” by saying “Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends” (Zech 13:6).
“Wine-Drinking in New Testament Times,” Robert H. Stein, Christianity Today, June 20, 1975, pp. 9-11.
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