In Divine Transcendence and the Culture of Change David H. Hopper explores several significant historical and cultural effects of Reformation theology. In conversation with H. Richard Niebuhr, he examines the theology of Martin Luther, Martin Bucer, John Calvin, and Francis Bacon and shows how these Reformation thinkers' recognition of God's transcendent wisdom in the cross of Christ - over and above human wisdom - ushered in an era of greater liberty and equality, deeper knowledge, and cultural progress.
Hopper's historical-theological study not only illuminates the past but also sheds light on the tumultuous present, revealing how a recaptured understanding of God's transcendence can confront the thoughtless tolerance and inward-facing spiritual consumerism of our own time and radically transform both theology and culture today.
In this book David H. Hopper explores why the doctrine of transcendence of God has been lost to contemporary theology, in conversation with H. Richard Niebuhr, Martin Luther, Martin Bucer, John Calvin, and Francis Bacon.
Hopper argues that the problem is, in a word, tolerance. He acknowledges the pragmatic worth of tolerance for getting on with necessary tasks, but expresses reservations about the sufficient, sustaining nature of tolerance for the faith community in an altered, global world. Divine Transcendence and the Culture of Change seeks to reclaim necessary dimensions of faith that have collapsed into the cultural vacuum created by thoughtless tolerance, and to restore God’s transcendence to the center of all biblical religion.
David H. Hopper is the James Wallace Professor of Religion Emeritus at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. His other books include A Dissent on Bonhoeffer and Technology, Theology, and the Idea of Progress.
An excellent guide through the sixteenth-century Reformation in both its historical development and its present-day reception.”
This book should be read by any who suppose that the Reformation has run its course and by those who want to renew its essential vision of God’s grace and glory. Hopper’s critique of pure tolerance on solid Reformational grounds is tonic for the mind and soul. It aims to help us recover from the dreary domestication of transcendence in a way that will connect Christ anew with the needed transformation of culture in the West.”
Princeton Theological Seminary
David H. Hopper has a fascinating and provocative argument about historical and practical connections between, at one end, the Reformation’s insistence that the presence of God in the suffering and weakness of the cross brings with it a this-worldly, world-affirming concept of divine transcendence and, correlatively, a this-worldly, world-affirming concept of the life of faith, and, at the other end, the eventual rise of modernity as a culture of change, a culture that nurtures and values change that is oriented to promoting the common good especially through science and technology with the downside that when consciousness of God’s inner-worldly transcendence fades as the context of scientifically and technologically driven change, the culture of change becomes dangerous because it loses an awareness of its own finitude and pursues change for its own sake.”
David H. Kelsey
Yale Divinity School
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