Luther's insights into Scripture and the nature of God shook the foundations of Western Christianity to its roots. Bayer absorbingly brings out major strands in Luther's thought, comparing it to later figures like Schleiermacher, Kant, Hegel, and Bultmann. Reveals why the Reformer still resonates so profoundly today. 352 pages, softcover. Eerdmans.
Rather than asking if theology is theoretical or practical -- a question that reveals a fundamental lack of understanding about the nature of theology in general -- it is better to ask "What exactly is theology?" It is this question that Oswald Bayer attempts to answer in Theology the Lutheran Way, clearing up misconceptions about the essence of theology. Along with Luther himself, Bayer claims that theology, rather than being something that we do, is really what God does.
Based primarily on the third section of Bayer's original German work of the same title, this book evaluates certain approaches to theology that have been influential, from Schleiermacher's understanding of theology to debates with Kant, Hegel, and Bultmann. It also includes a substantial section on Luther from the original in order to clarify the Lutheran tradition.
Oswald Bayer is professor emeritus of systematic theology atthe University of T?bingen, Germany, and director of theLuther Academy Sondershausen-Ratzeburg. He is also anordained pastor of the Lutheran Church of W?rttemberg andwas the editor of Neue Zeitschrift f?r SystematischeTheologie und Religionsphilosophie from 1986 to2006. His research focuses especially on Luther andHamann.,
Mark C. Mattes is professor of philosophy and religion atGrand View University, Des Moines, Iowa.
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
"Here is a fascinating account of the 'nature of theology' in conjunction with its very subject matter, namely, God and God's address to humanity. . . One of the most significant and original Lutheran voices of this generation, in both historical and systematic theology, is finally audible in the English-speaking world."
Robin A. Leaver
author of Luther's Liturgical Music
"For too long our seminaries and departments of theology have promulgated a schizoid separation between the intellectual content (systematic theology) and the spiritual contexts (practical theology) of the Christian faith. This prophetic and perceptive book challenges this modern mythology, created by a succession of philosophers and theologians, and powerfully argues for a more balanced approach to knowledge and belief that lectures on theology should also proclaim as well as define, and that sermons should also inform as well as inspire."
"Bayer's critical analysis of the history of theology from Plato to Pannenberg, itself a tour de force, centers on Luther's definition of what makes a theologian 'living, dying, and being damned.' In our cultural context of theological and ethical bankruptcy in the midst of religious prosperity, Bayer reminds us of Luther's salutary word that experience makes the theologian the experience of prayer, meditation, and affliction; the experience that in the face of our perpetual failure, salvation can only be suffered, i.e., received, not achieved. Here is a way out of the theological swamp of Hegel, Schleiermacher, and their heirs to solid footing on the biblical text. Bayer reclaims the subject matter of theology from all ancient and modern abstractions concerning God our first line of defense against God's judgment calling us to heed Luther's affirmation that the subject of theology is 'the relationship between the person who sins and the God who justifies the sinner.' Here is a theology that informs proclamation."
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