MODERN CHRISTIAN THOUGHT, Second Edition, Volume I, THE ENLIGHTENMENT AND THE NINETEENTH CENTURY/Volume II, THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

By Ellens, J. Harold | Journal of Psychology and Christianity, Fall 2007 | Go to article overview

MODERN CHRISTIAN THOUGHT, Second Edition, Volume I, THE ENLIGHTENMENT AND THE NINETEENTH CENTURY/Volume II, THE TWENTIETH CENTURY


Ellens, J. Harold, Journal of Psychology and Christianity


MODERN CHRISTIAN THOUGHT, Second Edition, Volume I, THE ENLIGHTENMENT AND THE NINETEENTH CENTURY, James C. Livingston; Volume II, THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, James C. Livingston and Francis Schussler Fiorenza. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2000. Pp. Vol. I1 430 + KV; Vol. II, 544 + xvi. Pb, $50.00. Reviewed by J. Harold Ellens.

Professor Livingston is on the faculty of William and Mary and he first published volume I o f this seminal set in 1997, following it in 2000 by volume II. Now he and Schussler Fiorenza of Harvard present us with the 2000 edition. These two surprisingly weighty volumes detail with consummate precision and gratifying depth the full theoretical and theological scope of Western Christian thought from the Enlightenment to the present moment. They deliver what their titles promise. Each volume contains 15 chapters delineating the unfolding intellectual drama of Christianity within the culture of modernity.

The first eight chapters offer us a careful analysis of the medieval heritage as it worked itself out in laying the foundations of modernity in Protestant and Roman Catholic Theological Tradition and philosophy. Their titles are revealing: The Enlightenment and Modern Christianity, The Religion of Reason, The Breakdown of the Religion of Reason, Christianity and Romanticism: Protestant Thought, Christianity and Speculative Idealism, Romanticism and French Catholic Thought: Traditionalism and Fideism, Romanticism and the Anglo-Catholic Revival: The Oxford Movement, Catholic Thought in Germany and England: The Tubingen School and John Henry Newman.

One can see readily how this lays the foundation for the rise of Schleiermacher, Hagel, and Ritschl, producing the reaction of existentialism. Chapters 9-15 are The Post-Hegelian Critique of Christianity in Germany, The Encounter Between Science and Theology: Biblical Criticism and Darwinism, The Ritschlian Theology and Protestant Liberalism, Movements of Recovery and Conservation: The Princeton Theology, Ultra-Montanism and the Neo-Thomistic Revival, Roman Catholic Thought at the End of the Century: The New Apologetics and Modernism, and Kierkegaard and Nietzsche: Toward the Twentieth Century.

Writ large across the face of this comprehensive survey of Western Thought to the end of the 19th century is the account of the roots and forces leading to the romantic optimism of Marxism and the cynical arrogant pessimism of Fascism, Hitler's, Franco's, and that of the neo Fascist Muslim terrorists. Moreover, volume II is as relevant and articulate in laying bare the dynamics of our own time, with its gains and losses, psychologically, theologically, socially, and politically. The volume unfolds in the following chapters.

From the beginning of the 20th century to Vatican II we have The Legacy of Modernity and the New Challenges of Historical Theology; American Empirical and Naturalistic Theology; The Dialectical Theology: Karl Earth, Emil Brunner, and Friedrich Gegarten; The Theologies of Karl Earth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer; Christian Existentialism; Christian Realism: Post-Liberal American Theology; and New Theology and Transcendental Thomism. …

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