11 January 2007

Contemporary Theology Book Meme

Chris at Sandalstraps’ Sanctuary has tagged me with a book meme which, truth be told, I don't really feel qualified to answer. At best, I'm an amateur theologian. At worst, a minister who knows too much theology for her own good. (joke!)

I don't really feel qualified to answer the first question at all:


My sense is that the most important theological thing that has happened in the last 20 to 30 years is the "post-liberal" movement. This movement has rescued Protestants (particularly in the US) from having to choose between being a fundamentalist or a classic liberal. My sense is that this "movement" in some way "just happened" and I'm not convinced that those who have deliberately taken the label of "post liberal" were actually the engines of that movement. So, choosing from three theologians who I consider to be part of this Christian Zeitgeist and picking books pretty much at random:

1) The New Testament and the People of God by N.T. Wright
2) Naming the Powers by Walter Wink
3) A Community of Character by Stanley Hauerwas


The first two books probably aren't "lesser known" to anyone who has attended theology college in Britain in the last ten years, but they are probably "lesser known" in the US. I think the last book is still "lesser known" in both contexts.

1) Love's Endeavour, Love's Expense by W.H. Vanstone. Having made the remark about post-liberalism, this book is in a bit more of liberal paradigm, but I think that questions of God's love in a liberal world-view are still relevent to many and this book was written before the theological world knew anything of post-liberalism.

2) Participating in God by Paul S. Fiddes. Takes up where Vanstone's book leaves off. Speaks into a post-liberal Christian context and also speaks of many relevent things like "How does prayer work?" and the concept of community.

3) The Joy of Being Wrong by James Alison. You had to know I'd say this. It's a tough read. This is Alison's doctoral thesis in book form. It's not an exaggeration to say that this book turned my faith upside down. As a friend put it, "You are acting like you met Jesus".

I'm tagging:
Michael, Stephen and John. I'm going to give it a flying try and tag Rachel at Velveteen Rabbi to see if she bites and gives us a perspective from a different faith.


St.Phransus said...

ahhh... walter wink, nt wright and stan hauerwas- ALL HUGE INFLUENCES on shaping my theology. i'm glad to find a fellow methodist who ranks them so high. two others that i hold in high regard are catherine pickstock and rowan williams.


John Smulo said...


Thanks a lot for the tag! I feel unqualified to respond to this one too,but I'll give it a try tomorrow.

crystal said...

I don't know much about theology, but the one name I recognised, besides James Alison, was Stanley Hauerwas. I've read some online interviews with him on pacifism ... interesting guy :-)

PamBG said...

Thanks for comments, everyone. St. Phransus, I've never heard of Catherine Pickstock, so I will give her a try sometime. I'm also a fan of Rowan Williams.

Beyond Words said...

Is Alison's book available to the public? I've been reading lots of N.T. Wright, and have come to a richer understanding of who Jesus is and what he did. It's taken my faith, theology and praxis to a new level. It was when I experienced the "joy of being wrong," ar at least, gave up my right to be right in a very painful church situation that I realized Jesus has profoundly changed me. So, I'd be interested in reading "The Joy of Being Wrong."

PamBG said...

Yes, the book is publically available. Here is a link. There is also a small excerpt from the book here

I'm not claiming to have "got there" praxis-wise. But it was understanding that my whole upbringing had been oriented toward "being right about God" and "being right about what I did for God" that changed things for me.

There is a difference between "It's OK to not be right" and "It's OK to be wrong". The "soundbite" from Alison's book is that "Being wrong can be forgiven; it is insisting on being right that confirms our being bound in original murderous sin" (p. 125)

Beyond Words said...

Thanks for the link!

Rachel said...

Thanks for tagging me! I've done my best to respond to the meme here.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Oops! Pam, I was trying NOT to be tagged with this one. Now, I have to find time to respond. Give me a few days since I want my blog posts to continue to focus on GLBT inclusion/equality and stopping the Iraq war for the next few days.

But thanks for thinking of me.

PamBG said...

Michael - Don't feel obliged to answer this! I appreciate your current series of posts.