Reviving Christian Humanism: The New Conversation on Spirituality, Theology, and Psychology

Article excerpt

Reviving Christian Humanism: The New Conversation on Spirituality, Theology, and Psychology. By Don S. Browning. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-8006-9626-9. vi and 186 pages. Paper. $24.00.

Revising Christian Humanism is the final book from Don Browning, a leading scholar of religion, science, and culture, whose career spanned five decades. It provides context and self-critique for much of Browning's earlier work including The Atonement and Psychotherapy (1964), Generative Man (1973), The Moral Context of Pastoral Care (1976), Pluralism and Personality (1980), Religious Ethics and Pastoral Care (1983), Religious Thought and the Modern Psychologies (1987), A Fundamental Practical Theology (1991), American Religions and the Family Debate (2000), Christian Ethics and the Moral Psychologies (2006), and the Religion, Culture, and Family Project at the University of Chicago (1991-2003).

Browning's purpose is to guide the science and religion discourse toward revitalizing religious humanism and Christian humanism, defined as those expressions of Christianity concerned with the finite temporal goods of health, education, and material sufficiency in addition to the spiritual goods of salvation and justification. Otherwise, he judges, science and religion debates will yield a new atheism that seeks to deconstruct religious claims through scientific explanation and quasi-religious speculation, and a new fundamentalism that reacts to the new atheism by seeking CO reestablish the dominance of religion over science.

Browning proposes that religious humanism and Christian humanism can best be revived if science and religion dialogue is conducted within a framework of "critical hermeneutics" and "hermeneutical phenomenology" as found in the thought of Paul Ricoeur. Unfortunately, Browning's technical philosophical language will tend to limit the readership of this book to academic professionals. …