Essays In Theology

Essays In Theology-66
The similarly brilliant essay on death, eschatology, and the resurrection occupies a comparable register.In contrast, several of the more specialised metaphysical essays — and especially the two on naming and language — are seriously demanding.

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From Hart himself, however, and his writing, we receive nothing of the bland or cautious middle.

He dwells naturally at the extremes: in style and in rhetoric, in wholehearted celebration and sharp denunciation, and in joyous advocacy of patristic tradition.

Among the more theological contributions, the essay on slavery stands out, as does one on the fundamental closeness of the Eastern and Western Christian traditions.

One of the new pieces is that essay on thrift, or — to be more accurate — almost thrift: at least, if thrift is mistaken for being a virtue in itself, and deflects us from the unthrifty practices both of largesse and feasting, and of fasting (since true asceticism, Hart argues, is inherently incandescent, and not thrifty at all).

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They are not likely to yield their full promise for any reader without a substantial background in philosophy.

As is once again obvious from this collection, Hart is one of those thinkers who can address seemingly any question or topic that comes his way, with both insight and wit.

I acknowledge that “a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace”; so I would not want to urge Hart against his new resolve too strongly.

All the same, the world of contemporary theological writing would be less invigorating without comments to the effect that Western theology is crippled by ideas that imbue “the works of Augustine’s senescence with an inexpungable tincture of tragic moral idiocy”, or his description of an “incautious and vulgar ‘Hegelianism’ prodigally displayed in the loose, rhapsodic, paranetic discourse of Jürgen Moltmann, with all its chaotic sentimentalism”.


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