Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BSac 139:556 (Oct 82) p. 356
“Not All Cats Are Gray: Beyond Liberalism’s Uncertain Faith,” Leonard I. Sweet, Christian Century, June 23–30. 1982, pp. 721-25.
Sweet, a theological liberal, insists that the time has come for theological liberals “to transcend faith’s uncertainties and stand up and make simple, strong declarative sentences about what they believe and know” (p. 725). He defines “the essence of liberalism” as “its attempt to confront culture on its own terms” (p. 724). And yet he agrees that “mainline religion has partaken heavily of the diminished certitudes of modern existence” (p. 722) and that “liberals have been too certain of uncertainty” (p. 723).
This note of uncertainty he considers the common theme of the contemporary scene, which he calls “this postmodern era” (p. 722). He says this is true in every field of study—philosophy, economics, mathematics, science. According to Sweet, atheism has become as “unfashionable” as religious belief because “anything other than agnosticism postulates an arrogant certainty, whether negative or positive” (p. 722). The only certainty today is uncertainty.
Religious liberalism blew its trumpet with this “uncertain sound” (1 Cor 14:8) with the result that “the liberal church approaches the threshold of a new century with haggard spirits and empty pews” (p. 723). The reality is that uncertainty is an intellectual and spiritual vacuum and nature hates a vacuum. As Sweet says, “Life without a centered faith suffers extreme spiritual discomfort” (p. 723). He rightly observes, “The world does not want to know Christians’ speculations; it wants to know our affirmations and certainties” (p. 723).
Sweet is convinced that religious liberalism has some certainties to proclaim and can regain its influence. He says, “Liberals do not have all the answers, but they do have some” (p. 725). He feels that “the
BSac 139:556 (Oct 82) p. 357
difference between conservatives and liberals is not that one group is certain and the other is not; rather, it is that conservatives are certain of too much” (p. 725). This reviewer thinks the opposite is true; liberals are certain of too little, especially since they lack confidence in the Bible as the inerrant Word of God on the basis of which one can proclaim, “Thus saith the Lord.”
“Creationism: The Roots of the Conflict,” Langdon Gilkey, Christianity and Crisis, April 26, 1982, pp. 108-15.
“Editorial: ‘Scientific Creationism’ and the Public Schools,” James E. Wood, Jr., Journal of Church and State 24 (Spring 1982): 23...
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