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Retrieval, Repair, and the Possibility of a Christian Humanism

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Retrieval, Repair, and the Possibility of a Christian Humanism

Hans Frei and George Lindbeck as Theologians

Joseph L. Mangina

It has become customary to associate the names of Hans Frei and George Lindbeck with the exercise of charity in theological discussion. It was Frei, after all, who coined the phrase “generous orthodoxy,” his shorthand for a theology poised somewhere between the liberalism of The Christian Century and the evangelicalism of Christianity Today.1 Anyone who knew these two men will testify to their kindness, their graciousness, and their insistence on the charitable reading of opponents. Especially in the highly polarized cultural and political climate of our own time, their warm Christian humanism stands out as a model to be emulated.

But we should also not fool ourselves: Frei and Lindbeck could at times be highly polemical. On the big issues confronting Christian theology in their day, they thought they were right—that their views were best poised to secure the faithfulness and liveliness of catholic tradition as it moved into the future. Whatever else “post”-liberalism may be, it surely involves the judgment that modernist Protestant theology got some important things wrong.

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The Mother, the Sinners, and the Cross

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The Mother, the Sinners, and the Cross

Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and Bach’s Tilge, Höchster1

Chiara Bertoglio

1. An electronic version of this article with live links to musical performances is available at the website of the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology, www.e-ccet.org/feature-article.

1. Introduction

This paper analyzes the theological, spiritual, confessional, artistic, and cultural issues posed by Johann Sebastian Bach’s adaptation of Pergolesi’s setting of the Stabat Mater as a German Psalm paraphrase suitable for use in the Lutheran Church. These twin compositions actually represent four distinct and yet intertwining works: the Medieval Latin lyrics of the Stabat Mater, which obviously predated Pergolesi’s setting by several centuries; the musical features of Pergolesi’s masterpiece; the lyrics of Bach’s Tilge, Höchster, meine Sünden, taken from the Biblical Psalm 51 (50) but purposefully adapted to Pergolesi’s music, whose text they replaced; and Bach’s own musical interventions and changes to the score. Thus, this topic is as fascinating as it is difficult to treat in an organic fashion: indeed, so numerous and diverse are the factors at stake, that it is indispensable to treat them somewhat separately as introductory remarks, before delving into the theological analysis proper. One could even say that theological conclusions surface almost inevitably when the complete cultural and artistic frame is set.

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The Jews and the Body of Christ

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The Jews and the Body of Christ

An Essay in Hope

Thomas G. Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap.

Beating with Less Than a Robust Heart

In their prophetic Declaration, Nostra Aetate, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council stated:

The Church of Christ acknowledges that in God’s plan of salvation the beginning of her faith and election is to be found in the patriarchs, Moses and the prophets. She professes that all Christ’s faithful, who as men of faith are sons of Abraham (cf. Gal. 3:7), are included in the same patriarch’s call and that the salvation of the Church is mystically prefigured in the exodus of God’s chosen people from the land of bondage.1

In this passage the Council Fathers suggested that the Church is still anticipating her full birth in Christ and—because of the origin of her faith, her initial election, and her prefigured identity in Israel—already beats with a Jewish heart. Because of this the Council professed that the Church cannot “forget that she draws nourishment from that good olive tree into which the wild olive branches of the Gentiles have been grafted (cf. Rom. 11:17–24).”2 Here the Council affirmed that God, in his loving mercy, has inextricably bound together, within the very truth and life of his revelation, Jews and Gentiles. To this day the life-giving ancestral blood of Abraham’s faith and the sacred Jewish tradition that sprang from his loins are still nurturing the Body of Christ. At the same time, this text from the Council implies that the Body of Christ lacks the vigorous heart that Jesus intended. Let me explain.

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A New (and Old) Scandal of Particularity

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A New (and Old) Scandal
of Particularity

Gerald R. McDermott

I am thankful for Fr. Weinandy’s bold and piercing proposal for the reconsideration of Jews within the Body of Christ. While it recommends that their most fruitful location will be in the Roman Catholic member of that Body, non-Catholics have much to learn from his rethinking of what God wants to do for his Son’s Body through his “firstborn son” (Ex 4:22). Fr. Weinandy reminds us gentiles that God’s covenant with the people of Israel is not over and imagines the riches that their inclusion will bring to the Church’s culture, exegesis, theology, and evangelism. He suggests this inclusion will take place gradually, and not immediately before the eschaton. But for their “partial hardening” (Rom. 11:25) to soften, Jews must see the possibility of a suffering messiah, and perhaps they will see that only as we gentile believers suffer with them in a world that has brought us together by persecuting both of us. This is a provocative but plausible suggestion.

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Engendering Hope

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Engendering Hope

A Response to M. Kinzer, G. McDermott, and G. D’Costa

Thomas G. Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap.

I want first to acknowledge that I am honored that Mark Kinzer, Gerald McDermott, and Gavin D’Costa considered my essay worthy of comment. They, far more than I, are knowledgeable in Jewish-Christian relations. Moreover, they have studied the biblical, theological, ecclesial, cultural, and political issues to a far greater degree. When I began to contemplate the importance of the Jews within the Body of Christ, I knew very little, but thanks to scholars such as these (as well as my good friend, the late Fr. Peter Hocken), my knowledge has grown and matured over the years in the making of my essay (and in the longer years of questing for a publisher). Yet I am far from being their academic equal. In responding to their very charitable, insightful, and challenging comments, I will address some of the major issues they have highlighted—some of which have been noted by more than one of the respondents.

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