Has The Queen Abdicated?

New Directions in Theology Today, Volume I: Introduction, by William Hordern (general editor of the series), and Volume II: History and Hermeneutics, by Carl E. Braaten (Westminster, 1966, 170 and 205 pp., $1.95 each, paperback), are reviewed by Edward John Carnell, professor of ethics and philosophy of religion, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California.

Volume I (seven volumes are to make up the series) is saturated with the conviction that it is high time to have edifying dialogue between theologians and the Church, and that the best way to come to the rescue is by disclosing what is new in contemporary theology. So Hordern brings forth a delightful cafeteria of theological alternatives. His sense of fairness leads him to include a chapter entitled “The New Face of Conservatism,” although I wonder whether he really grasps the true substance of conservatism.

In any case, Hordern writes with such an irenic spirit that he addresses both mind and heart, and thus forces serious readers to ask, “Just why is Christianity so fragmented?” and “What can we do to convert this fragmentation into a spiritual, intellectual, and ecclesiastical unity?”

An orthodox Christian, nonetheless, will feel a measure of frustration after reading this book, for no attempt is made to develop a rigorous criterion by which a selection between theological alternatives can be made. The Bible is quoted here and there. In fact, the book ends with a portion of Second Corinthians 4:2. But whether quotations from Scripture contain any more truth on divine authority than quotations from Plato is not resolved. This leads an orthodox Christian into deeper questions, for of what value is theological dialogue unless the agenda includes ...

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