Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

God's Advocates: Christian Thinkers in Conversation

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

God's Advocates: Christian Thinkers in Conversation

Article excerpt

God's Advocates: Christian Thinkers in Conversation . By Rupert Shortt. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2005. ix + 284 pp. $20.00 (paper).

The description on the back cover of the book states that "Shortt's lively interviews introduce renders to eighteen respected Christian thinkers who have contributed to the recent renaissance in theology." The conversations between Shortt and the people he interviewed, a number of whom are Anglicans, are stimulating and informative. One must remember that these are conversations, not carefully worked out studies, which the reader should keep in mind while a variety of subjects are considered, sometimes in passing and at other times with considerable depth.

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, sets the stage for the conversations. He laments "that a lot of our theology bus lost that extraordinarily vivid or exhilarating sense of the world penetrated in divine energy in the classical theological terms." When Shortt asks whether he is referring to Augustine, Williams responds by including Thomas as well, and to the "Eastern Orthodox tradition, where you have precisely that sense of what they call the 'divine energy' penetrating creation so that everything is in that sense shot through with the grandeur of God, as Gerard Manley Hopkins said" (p. 7). In the final chapter, in an interview with Oliver O'Donovan and Joan Lockwood O'Donovan, reference is made to Williams's theological approach. They believe that for readers who find his thought difficult to follow, there is the need to recognize that "Paradox and unexpected reversal is the essence of a Williams train of thought" (p. 268). They also speak of Williams as an apologist.

A theme running through the book is the need to explore the Trinity and Trinitarian faith and not to be tempted to water down the faith in order to make it more palatable to the contemporary person. Shortt's pithy questioning stimulates his respondents to delve into their particular theological concerns, but, as an interlocutor, he is never reluctant to express his own views, which often leads to thought provoking conversation. Then we may ask: to whom are the interviews addressed? Are these theologians more interested in reaching their academic cohorts than non-academic readers? …

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