THE SHATTERED SPECTRUM: A Survey of Contemporary Theology by Lonnie D. Kliever

THE SHATTERED SPECTRUM: A Survey of Contemporary Theology

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A lucid, detailed account of the chaotic pluralism now prevailing on the theological scene. Kliever (Southern Methodist Univ.) opens with a cogent summary of theology's encounter with modernity, from the Enlightenment to the 20th century, culminating in the rise and eventual breakdown of the two characteristic schools, Nco-orthodoxy and Liberalism. (Both are undoubtedly less discredited, outside the academy at least, than Kliever suggests.) He then proceeds to examine the major theological trends of the last 25 years, all of them constituting a challenge to ""the omnicompetence of the scientific notion of a closed universe and the scientific paradigm of responsible thinking."" Kliever singles out six different thrusts in this attack and illustrates each one by describing three of its leading exponents: secularizing theologies (Robinson, Cox, van Buren), process theologies (Cobb, Teilhard, Altizer), liberation theologies (Cone, Daly, GutiÉrrez), theologies of hope (Moltmann, Braaten, Vahanian), theologies of play (H. Rahner, Cox, Neale), and ""narrative"" theologies (Dunne, McClendon, McFague). Each chapter ends with a brief critique of the approach in question, and the book winds up with an inconclusive discussion of whether all these developments portend a new Pentecost or a second Babel. Kliever's map for this muddle is obviously quite schematic. This makes for exceptional clarity, but also leads to imbalances. In order to keep his symmetry Kliever has to highlight some relatively minor figures (e.g., McFague) and neglect some more important ones (e.g., Pannenberg). And a newcomer to the field would get an oddly distorted perspective on Catholic theology, since Kliever doesn't even mention Karl Rahner (too orthodox?) or KÜng (too predictably liberal?) or Schillebeeckx (?). Likewise, Kliever's sharp focus on the theological frontier necessarily leaves the much larger territory of traditional religious thought in something of a blur. Still, this is first-rate intellectual history and possibly the best comprehensive treatment of the subject now in print.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1980
Publisher: John Knox