Soundings: Essays concerning Christian Understanding

Soundings: Essays concerning Christian Understanding

Soundings: Essays concerning Christian Understanding

Soundings: Essays concerning Christian Understanding

Excerpt

The authors of this volume of essays cannot persuade themselves that the time is ripe for major works of theological construction or reconstruction. It is a time for ploughing, not reaping; or, to use the metaphor we have chosen for our title, it is a time for making' soundings, not charts or maps; If this be so, we do not have to apologize for our inability to do what we hope will be possible in a future generation. We can best serve the cause of truth and of the Church by candidly confessing where our perplexities lie, and not by making claims which, so far as we can see, theologians are not at present in a position to justify.

Volumes of essays by different authors can vary widely in the nature of their origin and in the manner of their composition as well as in the value of their contents. There are those that owe their publication to the initiative of an enterprising editor or publisher who has conceived the idea that it would be profitable to assemble a collection of views on a subject of topical interest. He therefore invites a miscellaneous group of persons, who may be unknown to one another and might not wish to know one another, to produce essays on some aspect of the subject. The contributors do not collaborate, they need never meet, and they may not see any other essay than their own before the whole volume appears in print. The essays will be related in subject-matter, but the essayists themselves do not have to be connected in any other respect.

There is, however, another kind of volume which to the casual reader or browser in a bookshop may look much the same but in fact has a different origin and purpose. In this case, a group of friends or colleagues or associates decides that it wants to produce a concerted work, maybe to serve some cause or to bear some testimony or to promote a shared interest. Either they will have met, perhaps often and at length, to plan and discuss their project . . .

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