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Theological Radicalism and Tradition


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Editor's Introduction, Christopher R. Brewer

The Limits of Radicalism 1 Radicalism and Theological Integrity 2 Radicals and Radicalism 3 Tradition and Traditions 4 Theology and "The Given" 5 Resources and Reconstructions 6 Theological Responsibility 7 The Supernatural 8 Towards Theological Method Appendices Appendix 1: Christian Claims and Religious Comparisons, Wilde Lectureship Application, 1957 Appendix 2: A Lecture on Graham Greene's A Burnt Out Case, c. 1961-66 Appendix 3: What is the Gospel?, 1963 Appendix 4: The Glory of Society, 1966 Appendix 5: The Question of Theology, 1967 Appendix 6: Hamilton and the Death of God, 1967 Appendix 7: Letters from the Oxford University Archives, 1970-75 Appendix 8: Images

About the Author

Canon Howard E. Root (1926-2007) was a significant voice in post-war, British Christianity. Chaplain (1954-56) and then Dean (1956-66) of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, he was later appointed the first and last Professor of Theology at the University of Southampton (1966-81). The youngest official Anglican observer at the Second Vatican Council, Root was a member of the Joint Preparatory Commission, as well as the first phase of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, and during this same time chaired the Archbishop's Commission on the Christian Doctrine of Marriage (1968-71). A member of the academic council at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem, he was appointed Pope Hadrian VI Professor at the University of Louvain in 1979, and served as the Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome (from 1981), as well as Visiting Professor at the Gregorian University in Rome (from 1984) until his retirement in 1991. Christopher R. Brewer (PhD, St And) is a Program Officer of the Templeton Religion Trust in Nassau, The Bahamas. He has edited or co-edited six volumes including Christian Theology and the Transformation of Natural Religion: From Incarnation to Sacramentality--Essays in Honour of David Brown.


'This volume is a remarkable achievement on the part of its editor, Christopher R. Brewer. Not only has he unearthed various unpublished works of Howard E. Root, a now largely forgotten theologian of a previous generation, he has also assiduously edited and introduced them in a way that establishes their continued relevance for our own age. In focusing on legitimate change in theological expression and understanding, Root argued that the contrast commonly made between appeal to tradition and radicalism represents a profound error. On the contrary, radical thinking can sometimes be the best way of preserving tradition, not least if careful attention is given to how the imaginative resources of artists and others model how the past can be redeployed in fresh ways. Root and Brewer can thus be seen to constitute jointly a formidable challenge to contemporary theological assumptions.' -David Brown, Wardlaw Professor Emeritus of Theology, Aesthetics and Culture, St Mary's College, University of St Andrews, UK

'The Anglican theologian Howard E. Root was American by birth and early education but British by naturalisation, eventually becoming Professor of Theology at Southampton University and then Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome. He was a first-hand and sympathetic observer of two radical theological movements in the 1960s, the Honest to God debate and Vatican II, but published very little. Until now even his pellucid Bampton Lectures on theological radicalism remained unpublished and largely unreferenced. Brewer has done us a real service by completing this task and introducing Root's work to a new generation. The theological links that Root sought to make with the arts (and especially with the poets W.H. Auden and T.S. Eliot) can now be read with pleasure and edification.' - Robin Gill, Professor Emeritus of Applied Theology, University of Kent, UK

'This volume recovers the remarkable contribution of Howard E. Root, an ecumenically minded Anglican. With a philosophical formation through education in California, and the priceless gift of an introduction to 'comparative religion' from a distinguished German emigre, Root's intellectual generosity and personal odyssey took him via Cairo, Oxford and Cambridge to places as diverse as Southampton, Tantur and Rome. The privilege of becoming an 'observer' of the Second Vatican Council prompted many years of ecumenical work, always attending to many new voices and the complexities of an unpredictable world. In re-presenting Root's work, Brewer has shed light on the work of someone exemplary in his wide sympathies, and, in doing so, has most commendably revealed his own.' - Ann Loades CBE, Professor Emerita of Divinity, University of Durham, UK and Honorary Professor, St Mary's College, University of St Andrews, UK

'This volume is of both historical and contemporary significance: historical, in that it finally brings to light a hitherto lost set of important Bampton Lectures and related material, and contemporary in that Root's arguments and Brewer's analysis of them seem as fresh and relevant today as when the lectures were first delivered at Oxford in 1972. This means, of course, that Root's insights regarding the nature of theology and its sources were extraordinarily prescient. In particular what comes through is his immense confidence in the integrity of theological language and concepts, combined with a refreshing realism and humility regarding the enterprise itself as an intellectual discipline.' - Robert MacSwain, Associate Professor of Theology, The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, USA

'Those of us who associate the name Root with a theologian rather than the current England cricket captain will warmly welcome this very belated publication of Howard Root's 1972 Bampton Lectures... by making these and others of Root's writings available in this way, Christopher Brewer has put us in his debt' - The Rt Revd Dr John Saxbee, Church Times 'This edition of Root's hitherto unpublished Bampton Lectures for 1972 should go a long way to recovering the range and intentions of Root's thought. It will be read with interest both by theologians and by historians of theology and of the religious climate of the sixties and seventies; no serious library for theology or religious history should be without it.' - Peter Webster 'Brewer's introduction gives a helpful and substantial introduction to Root's life and work, which successfully situates these selected writings in their biographical context.' - Sam Brewitt-Taylor, Modern Believing

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