Ten Theology Books to Watch For – August 2018

August 9, 2018 — Leave a comment

 

Here are a some excellent theology* books that will be released this month:

* broadly interpreted, including ethics, church history, biblical studies, and other areas that intersect with theology

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One in Christ: Chicago Catholics and the Quest for Interracial Justice 

Karen J. Johnson

Oxford UP

Today, the images of Catholic priests and nuns marching in 1960s civil rights protests are iconic. Their cassocks and habits clothed the movement in sacred garments. But by the time of those protests Catholic Civil Rights activism already had a long history, one in which the religious leadership of the Church played, at best, a supporting role. Instead, it was laypeople, first African Americans and then, as they found white partners, black and white Catholics working together, who shaped the movement- regular people who, in self-consciously Catholic ways, devoted their time, energy, and prayers to what they called “interracial justice,” a vision of economic, social, religious, and civil equality.

Karen J. Johnson tells the story of Catholic interracial activism from the bottom up through the lives of a group of women and men in Chicago who struggled with one another, their Church, and their city to try to live their Catholic faith in a new, and what they thought was more complete and true, way. Black activists found a handful of white laypeople, some of whom later became priests, who believed in their vision of a universal church in the segregated city. Together, they began to fight for interracial justice, all while knitted together in sometimes-contentious friendship as members of the Mystical Body of Christ. In the end, not only had Catholic activists lived out their faith as active participants in the long civil rights movement and learned how to cooperate, and indeed love, across racial lines, but they had changed the practice of Catholicism. They broke down the hierarchy that placed priests above the laity and crossed the parish boundaries that defined urban Catholicism.

Chicago was a vital laboratory in what became a national story. One in Christ traces the development of Catholic interracial activism, revealing the ways religion and race combined both to enforce racial hierarchies and to tear them down, and demonstrating that we cannot understand race and civil rights in the North without accounting for religion.






Augustinian and Ecclesial Christian Ethics: On Loving Enemies 

D. Stephen Long

Fortress Press

 

What is the relationship between the command to love one’s enemies and the use of violence and/or other coercive political means? This work examines this question by comparing and contrasting two important contemporary approaches to Christian ethics, neoAugustinian and the ecclesial or neoAnabaptist. It traces the complicated conversation that has taken place since John Howard Yoder took on Reinhold Niebuhr’s interpretation of the Anabaptists in the 1940’s. It consists of three parts. The first part traces the development of the Augustinian-Niebuhrian approach to ethics from Niebuhr through those who have advanced his work including Paul Ramsey, Timothy Jackson, Charles Mathewes, Eric Gregory, and Jennifer Herdt. It also examines the Augustinian ethics of Oliver O’Donovan, John Milbank and Nicholas Wolterstorff. Along with tracing the Augustinian approach and its trajectories through agapism, theology and the interpretation of Augustine, it identifies fifteen criticisms that this approach brings against the neoAnabaptists. The second part traces the origin of the ecclesial or neoAnabaptist approach, and then examines its relationship to, and criticism of, agapism, what theological doctrines are central and its interpretation of Augustine. Its purpose is primarily constructive by explaining the role that ecclesiology, Christology and eschatology have among the neoAnabaptists. The third part addresses the criticisms levied by Augustinians against the neoAnabaptists by drawing on the constructive theology in the second part. It intends to show where the Augustinian critics are correct, where they have missed key theological teachings, and where they misrepresent. It also assesses the summons to the nationalist project the Augustinians put to the neoAnabaptists. If this work is successful, this third part will not be defensive. It will instead illumine the reasons for the criticisms and suggest means by which the conversation that began between Yoder and Niebuhr can continue and possibly bear fruit for theological ethics in both its ecclesial and nationalist projects for generations to come.

 

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