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An erstwhile liberal pleads for the rejection of ""modernity"" and the return to orthodoxy. Oden is a professor at Drew University who championed every conceivable activist cause, from SDS to liberalized abortion, and a much-published expert on the religious uses of humanistic psychology. But after a long career of accommodating Christianity to the modern Zeitgeist--which, he says, despises the wisdom of the past, truckles to reductionistic naturalism and empiricism, naively embraces evolutionary progressivism, hedonism, narcissism, and so forth--Oden has had enough. He thinks the destructive sterility of modernity is now apparent, e.g., in the catastrophic condition of marriage in Western societies; and so, as Christianity prepares to enter its third millenium, it desperately needs to work its way back to the first millenium--to the grand theological consensus that fueled its greatness. Oden's appeal for post-modern orthodoxy is spirited and, at times, convincing. He has the advantage of arguing as a sadder-but-wiser liberal, rather than as an I-told-you-so reactionary. He speaks from the heart, and attacks his own former views before hitting out at his other adversaries (Bultmann, KÄsemann, Harvey Cox, etc.). But just how feasible is this programmatic retreat to ""classic Christianity?"" Modernity may indeed be hollow, but can Christians simply think their way out of it? Oden accuses theologians of flirting, or whoring, with fashionable heresies, but surely many of these thinkers had no other intellectual choice. Oden plans to cure the deficiencies of modernity with a high-protein diet of patristic, medieval, Reformation, and Counter-Reformation texts. This of course leaves an enormous gap, and the task of filling it is precisely Oden's ""agenda for theology."" An articulate, pointed polemic for a dubious position.

Pub Date: Feb. 7th, 1978
Publisher: Harper & Row