REAPING THE WHIRLWIND: A Christian Interpretation of History by Langdon Gilkey

REAPING THE WHIRLWIND: A Christian Interpretation of History

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Midway in this ambitious new theology of history, Langdon Gilkey remarks that ""perhaps the secret of method is to make the variety of category, of symbol, and of argument fit the complexity of the object of understanding."" But he finds the mystery of history so multifaceted, and hence his analysis of it becomes so involved, that few readers will have the patience or competence to profit from his considerable achievement. Gilkey displays once more his unique capacity--best evidenced in his more accessible companion volume, Naming the Whirlwind: The Renewal of God-Language (1969)--for assessing the gains and shortfalls on theology's frontiers and advancing discussion to new levels of rigor and insight. Here he capitalizes on current theological preoccupation with the radically historical, social, and political nature of human experience and reality generally to launch a full-scale updating of the Christian understanding of the meaning of history. He argues that both ""inquiry into our past, and political action for our future subsist in a history characterized by a depth, richness, and complexity which only philosophical and theological categories--and in politics, mythical forms of speech--can articulate."" We need the ontological conceptuality of being and non-being, actuality and possibility, and the symbols of providence, sin, grace, redemption, eschatology to render historical and political existence wholly intelligible. Thus Gilkey blends classical and modern Christian interpretations of history into a higher synthesis--a process understanding, a la Whitehead, of God's activity and purpose that takes seriously contemporary secularity and historical-mindedness. He sees God as really involved in history but also transcendent to it, as the ground of order and novelty, destiny, and freedom, and Jesus as the crucial revelation that the forces of creativity will ultimately triumph over the powers of sin and death. A major theological work in the distinguished tradition of Tillich, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Lonergan.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1977
Publisher: Seabury