JOHN COURTNEY MURRAY: Theologian in Conflict by Charles B. Keteham

JOHN COURTNEY MURRAY: Theologian in Conflict

Email this review


The late Jesuit theologian John Courtney Murray (1904-1967) has been declared one of the century's few great American religious thinkers, and his book We Hold These Truths: Catholic Reflections on the American Proposition is still much admired as a minor classic. Thus this meticulous account of his career and thinking is welcome. It reads like a superior doctoral dissertation: the grasp of relevant facts and ideas is masterful, the documentation almost excessive. The first half traces Murray's career as an embattled liberal in bold conflict with both the reactionary Catholic establishment and the ""technological secularism"" of American society. His lifelong campaign for an American Catholicism in which the Church would be enriched with ideals of democratic freedom and American public life leavened with the spiritual values of the Church came to fruition in the '60s: he was principal author of Vatican II's Declaration on Religious Freedom and exerted considerable influence in American politics. The latter half analyzes Murray's political philosophy and then situates his thought in the ""Americanist"" tradition of Catholic theology. Though unmistakably directed to a specialist audience--the detailed accounts of ecclesiastical infighting and the untranslated Latin quotes are evidence enough--this is a valuable record, much of it quite readable, of an important American thinker whose work still seems quite contemporary.

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 1976
Publisher: Paulist Press