Spirituality and Theology, Essays in Honor of Diogenes Allen

By Slocum, Robert B. | Anglican Theological Review, Spring 1999 | Go to article overview

Spirituality and Theology, Essays in Honor of Diogenes Allen


Slocum, Robert B., Anglican Theological Review


Spirituality and Theology, Essays in Honor of Diogenes Allen. Edited by Eric O. Springsted. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1998. ix + 150 pp.$17.00 (paper).

This Festschrift in honor of Diogenes Allen includes ten essays by contributors with backgrounds in theology or philosophy, including philosophical theology and philosophy of religion. Several of the contributors also have pastoral experience. The purpose of the collection is to draw out the relatedness of theology and spirituality in the spirit of Allen, who is Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Princeton Theological Seminary. The Introduction notes that Allen has maintained a distinctive position within the philosophy of religion by insisting on this synthesis of theology and spirituality, and that "he has led as many retreats as he has read papers to academic societies" (3).

In this regard, the collection addresses the most unfortunate tendency for the pastoral life of faith and the world of academic theological reflection to diverge rather sharply from one another, with each holding tenaciously and separately to their own particular issues and vocabularies. This separation of Christian prayer and theological reflection works to the mutual detriment of all the Church, and represents a sad departure from the statement by Evagrius of Pontus (346-399) that "to be a theologian is to pray truly and to pray truly is to be a theologian" (8). The recovery of this synthesis certainly deserves a place of priority in the hearts of all who pray and all who reflect on God. Indeed, a theologically grounded Church can engage greater depth of meaning in its community life, thereby being less vulnerable to partisan reactions and superficial judgments. Similarly, the spiritual life of faith can bring the grounding of reality and lived experience to theological reflection, which could otherwise become centered on itself and its own disagreements, and detached from the pastoral life of the Church. Allen's witness, which is celebrated bv this collection of essays, identifies a vital issue for the future of the Church's life and theology.

There are some wonderful essays in this collection. Stanley Hauerwas's "Christians in the Hands of Flaccid Secularists" considers the marginalization of theology in the modern university, in which departments of religious studies "are often comprised of people who are willing to study a religion on the condition either that it is dead or that they can teach it in such a way as to kill it" ( 19). By way of strong contrast, Hauer vas urges that theology is an office in service to the Church community. …

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