Makers of Christian Theology in America

Mark G. Toulouse, Editor, James O. Duke, Editor
Mark G. Toulouse, Editor, James O. Duke, Editor Abingdon Press $42 (572p) ISBN 978-0-687-00766-0
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Not a portrait gallery so much as a sketchbook, this extensive collection of vignettes drawn by an array of authorities offers a taste of the dizzying variety of thinkers who have shaped theology in America since the earliest days of European colonization. Behind the variety, according to the contributors, lie some important patterns in the making of American Christian theology: Reformed theology looms as a major influence even in thinkers who do not associate with that tradition; a significant number of figures gathered here are not theologians so much as preachers or activists; ""commonsense realism,"" imported from Scotland, surfaces repeatedly in pragmatic forms among both ""conservatives"" and ""liberals""; and English-speaking traditions dominate, even where German theology or philosophy is acknowledged. As is so often the case in contemporary histories of American religion, Martin Marty, the dean of American church historians, gets the last word. Marty points out the ""particularistic"" character of American religion in recent times, and he demonstrates that such particularism is consistent with the local, congregational character of American churches and American theology. Marty's explication, together with the bibliographic pointers at the end of each vignette and the editors' introductions at the beginning of each section, will give readers some intriguing threads to follow as they pursue their own investigations. (Oct.)
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