Magazine article Commonweal

John Macquarrie: A Master of Theology

Magazine article Commonweal

John Macquarrie: A Master of Theology

Article excerpt

John Macquarrie: A Master of Theology Owen Cummings Paulist, $14.95, 152 pp.

John Macquarrie would not know me, but I remember him as a most welcome summer-school teacher at Notre Dame. We served together on several oral exam committees, where he exhibited, in his soft Scots burr, gentleness with students as well as a radiant love for theology. Macquarrie is now in his eighties, so Owen Cummings, a fellow Scot, gives us a resume of Macquarrie's theological life as a kind of act of pietas to celebrate one of the great Christian thinkers of our age. Born in Scotland and once a Presbyterian pastor (Macquarrie was later ordained an Anglican priest), he has had a distinguished academic career on both sides of the Atlantic. Macquarrie has the peculiar gift, as his longtime editor John Bowden once said of him, of being a "successful mediator between the academic world and the parishes in producing a believing form of academic theology."

Cummings gives us a general introduction to Macquarrie's life and works, and then surveys his contributions to theology, ranging from his doctrine of God to his understanding of the life of prayer. Cummings is particularly good in tracing how Macquarrie has changed his mind over the decades, how he relates to his theological partners in and outside the Anglican church, and how his critics have reacted to his theological ideas and proposals.

Many influences have shaped Macquarrie's theology. He owes a debt to German existentialism in general and, for a time, the thinking of Bultmann in particular. …

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