Page 6, 31st August 1979

31st August 1979
Page 6
Page 6, 31st August 1979 — Arts Page

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Arts Page

A new attack on

radical theology

Theology and the Gospel of Christ: an essay in reorientation. by E. L Mascall (SPCK £195) This hook continues Dr Mascall's counter-attack on modern radical theology. In his earlier book. "The secularisation of Christianity", he dealt with Paul van Buren and J. A. T. Robinson; in this he turns to deal with the threats to orthodox Christ°logy, offered by people like John Hick and Maurice Wiles.

Dr Mascall presents his work as necessary to offset the disorientation and confusion which exists within the Anglican . Churches; the demoralizing gap between the academic theologians and the parish clergy, the fault for which, he believes, lies firmly at the door of the

Witches, fauns and children

The fiftieth anniversary of C. S. Lewis' conversion to Christianity will be celebrated in Church House, London, on October 6 by a book fair specially aimed at children.

Life-size cardboard wardrobes and special "Narnia" music will be used to evoke the world of lions, witches and fauns which Lewis created for children.

All funds from the sale of the books at the fair will be given to the international Year of the Child. With his usual force and dynamism, Dr Mascall exposes many of the weaknesses present in contemporary theology: but does not always come to grips with the problems concerned. It is not a very satisfactory procedure to, in the words of Dennis Nineham, "Outlaw all presuppositions except those which result in the reconstruction we favour." Yet. while accusing others of this failing, it is precisely what Dr Mascall does himself.

Ruthlessly exposing the circularity in the arguments of his opponents, he ignores the use of the same in his own. Often he seeks to defend his position simply by affirmation, as when he wishes to deny the assumption that if Jesus was fully and completely man he could not also be literally and personally God, writing, virtually as his sole argument: "I want to say that if, as I believe, the eternal God has become man then man is what the eternal God could become." All that this says, however, is that if God has become man, then he has; a truism which ignores the whole objection of conflicting definitions which is being raised, and which begs the whole question.

Dr Mascall relies heavily on the work of several Catholic theologians, most particularly Karl !Ulises, whose ChristologY is applauded as being "fundamentally loyal "to the teaching of Chalcedon. The second, more constructive half of the book, attempts to present Chalcedonian orthodoxy as allowing for dynamic Christological development, by discussing the recent work of French Roman Catholics. M Claude Tresmontant and Pere Louis Bouyer, and with great approval, of the Belgian, Jean Galot.

The book is something of a hotch-potch, concluding with a brief discussion of the conception and animation of Christ.

It is not an entire success: its criticism of contemporary theology is too often suppressed outrage, without proper understanding or consideration of that being criticised. It is too negative and Lou disparate.

Nevertheless, the book is interesting, and perhaps beneficial, as a reply to contemporary radical theology (if only in indicating the failure of traditional theology to make an adequate response); and as a description and discussion of the work of various modern Catholic theologians in Christology.

Gerard Loughlin

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