Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 17:2 (May 1955)
Article: Reviews Of Books
Author: Anonymous

Reviews Of Books

Emil Brunner: Eternal Hope. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press. 1954. ii, 232. $3.50.

In the postscript Brunner informs us that the present volume was written upon the occasion of the choice of theme which provided the principal subject of debate at the meeting of the World Council of Churches at Evanston in August 1954 (p. 211). Brunner was one of the group chosen to prepare a message on the theme, “Christ—the Hope of the World”. It is Brunner’s judgment that the document aimed at in this appointment was “unable to penetrate sufficiently deeply into the questions which cause a tension between the modern man and the message of hope in Christ as to succeed in proclaiming convincingly the Biblical word to our modern age” (p. 212). And the reason he gives is that the question as to the substance of the Christian hope has remained for so long outside the scope of debate and therefore the church is not in a position to speak decisively and relevantly on this article of faith (p. 213). He acknowledges the contribution made by Karl Barth and his co-operators but, as far as achievement is concerned, he has to “confess with shame and astonishment that at this point a great lacuna is visible” (idem).

It was not, however, the present theological situation that provided the primary reason for this eschatological study; it was “the conviction that a church which has nothing to teach concerning the future and the life of the world to come is bankrupt” (p. 219). Deeply sensitive to the exigencies of the present ecclesiastical and theological situation and to the tensions which arise for the modern man, Brunner attempts to do something to fill up the lacuna and to present the message of the Christian faith regarding the hope of the future. Brunner is insistent that the hope of eternal life belongs to the total structure of the Christian faith. “The hope of eternal life is not just a part of the faith, the final section, called eschatology; it is rather the point at issue in the faith as a whole, without which therefore it would not simply be minus something, but without which it would utterly cease to exist” (p. 90). “A Christian faith without expectation of the Parousia is like a ladder which leads nowhere but ends in the void” (pp. 138 f.). In our present situation Brunner’s polemic waxes most urgent and emphatic

against that de-mythologization of the New Testament which eliminates “the dimension of the future”. Brunner is no fundamentalist; he is far removed from what he regards as its “naïve Biblicism”. “But still further … are we removed”, he himself informs us, “from a theology of de-mythologizing which expects us to recognize an interpretation...

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