Stanley Hauerwas: 5 picks

Essential theology books of the past 25 years

George A. Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age. Lindbeck not only maps the alternative in contemporary theology but also offers a constructive way forward that has been taken up by many theologians. He does this by drawing on Ludwig Wittgenstein and Clifford Geertz to provide an account of doctrine that might help us see ecumenical possibilities that would otherwise be unavailable.

John Howard Yoder, The Priestly Kingdom: Social Ethics as Gospel. In this collection of essays Yoder develops a constructive alternative to Reinhold Niebuhr. Yoder's case for Christian nonviolence draws on christological and eschatological connections that reveal that any attempt to separate theology and ethics is erroneous. Yoder may provide the kind of ecclesiology that Lindbeck suggests we need.

Robert Jenson, Systematic Theology. Jenson's work not only is the kind of theology that Barth made possible, but it represents the recovery of the work of the church fathers as crucial for understanding contemporary theological struggles. Jenson's ability to use scripture as constitutive of theological arguments is exemplary. These volumes should become the training manual for future theologians.

James Wm. McClendon Jr., Systematic Theology. In the three volumes of his systematic theology, McClendon develops a Baptist theology that is in conversation with the great Catholic tradition. Like Jenson's, McClendon's theology has ecumenical implications that are extremely promising. His suggestions regarding how classical christological issues can be understood more fruitfully as narrative have yet to be considered in the way they deserve.

John Milbank, Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason. Milbank's tour de force offers a theological engagement with modern intellectual formation that we desperately need. He argues that modern theology has legitimized social theories that make theology unintelligible to itself. Though Milbank is critical of Lindbeck, his is the kind of work that Lindbeck hopes will be done.

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