Item description for Way of Blessing, Way of Life: A Christian Theology by Clark M. Williamson...
Overview "Williamson describes this volume on systematic theology as 'the only one-volume systematic theology that is written from a post-Holocaust (or post-Shoah) perspective, that is in the tradition of correlational or conversation theology, that tries to be in conversation with the Jewish tradition at the same time that it strives to be appropriately Christian'... This is a tall order for any systematic theology. But, Williamson delivers what he promises as he synthesizes creativity, innovation, and tradition in this insightful theological opus."
Publishers Description This systematic theology by a distinguished scholar offers a rich and complex weaving together of aspects of theological thought. Informed by such diverse influences as process thought and Holocaust studies, Way of Blessing, Way of Life provides intriguing discussions of the major theological categories in an engaging and readable format.
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More About Clark M. Williamson
Clark M. Williamson is Indiana Professor of Christian Thought Emeritus at Christian Theological Seminary.
Clark M. Williamson currently resides in the state of Indiana.
Reviews - What do customers think about Way of Blessing, Way of Life: A Christian Theology?
Way of Blessing, Way of Life: A Christian Theology Nov 10, 2006
Arrived ahead of expectation. Packaged very well. Excellent service.
The Way of Shalom Nov 29, 2003
Clark Williamson spent much of his career focusing upon the development of a Christian theology that is faithful and respectful of the Jewish origins of Christianity, mindful of the diversity inherent in Christian practices over time and in the present, and recognising the need to be relevant and useful in a world where prejudice and superstition in their various guises need to be identified and dismissed. A process theologian, Williamson develops a theological framework that renders many traditional and romantic views of God as unworkable. Similarly, many academically-produced theologies are flawed, due to their lack of appropriate community context, which is the church.
Williamson's language is that of faith and blessing. This blessing is well-being - shalom - that Williamson's colleague Gerry Janzen described as 'the divinely intended governing principle'. This is a way that is a way to fullness of life. It is a way intended for communities, and ultimately the whole of creation. Williamson points out the failures of Christianity over time in dealing with non-Christians (and often with other varieties of Christians) with honesty and integrity, so that Christians in their progress will not fall victim to self-deception about the possibilities for the future.
Particularly when it comes to dealing with people of the Jewish faith, Williamson describes the history of Christian thought and practice as being one of a death-dealing way. Quoting Raul Hillberg, he explores the three overarching principles: conversion, expulsion, and annihilation. These are things that must be confronted in examining Christian theology for the twenty-first century and beyond - how can a faith that derives from the God of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob, Rachel and Leah continue to be oppressive and dismissive of the faith of the people of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob, Rachel and Leah? Unlike other prejudicial attitudes in churches (gender, race, etc.), this is one rarely challenged from within, for there are no Jewish persons present in the congregations (generally speaking). By extension, this serves as a model for interfaith relationships with all religions, but there is a special case in Jewish-Christian relations, given that the founders of the Christian faith, and indeed the key figure himself, come from the Jewish people, and never saw themselves as anything but Jewish.
Williamson identifies other structural sins of society, to which the church has often been at least a silent bystander, if not a willing participant: the unjust exploitation of nature (the church should call for ecological justice), the unjust distribution of goods and services (the church should strive for economic justice), sexism; racism, and militarism (the church should demand political and social justice).
This is a systematic theology. Over the course of the text, Williamson addresses the key points of any systematic theology - ecclesiology, Christology, Doctrine of God, the Holy Spirit, creation, community, revelation, etc. - in a process, post-Holocaust, ecumenical manner. Ultimately, Williamson contends, the questions one has to ask for any theology or topic within a systematic theology include appropriateness, credibility, coherence, relevance, and moral plausibility. Any theology lacking in these criteria will most likely be faulty. While no theology can ever be perfect on all grounds, the task of the theologians individually and in community are to strive for an always-correcting and always-corrective process that fully addresses these questions for the way of life and blessing.
Williamson's final chapter on eschatology asks the basic question most people in the Christian church ask (and many beyond the church also ask) - what is the point? What are striving for? Drawing in the words of the Hebrew prophets and the historical context of the early church, Williamson identifies the failure of Christianity to properly view 'the kingdom of God' and 'the world to come' in useful contexts - the hope of the church often got co-opted into institutions (for instance, Augustine's idea of the City of God being more a preservation of Roman authority and institutions in this world, which at the time seemed to be crumbling, than of any other concept) or revised outside of the church (Marx's vision of a classless society, for example). Williamson is critical of ideas that see the future hope as being something exclusively other-worldly, but is also critical of those who see salvation in purely this-world, social justice contexts. For those who have gone before under oppressive conditions, it is too late in this world for justice to be done - Williamson cites the examples of visiting the cemeteries of slaves in unmarked graves, or the memorial at Yad Vashem, as highlighting the inadequacy of this kind of eschatological hope.
Williamson concludes with a statement made near the beginning of his text, taken from Julian of Norwich - all will be well. Finally, God will make things well, in ways we are not able to conceive. Ideas of eternal damnation for some or an arbitrary (or even somewhat-earned) righteousness for others are for Williamson the sign of spiritual immaturity, and fails the coherence test Williamson requires of theological principles.
Williamson, being a process theologian, derives much inspiration from the work of Whitehead - once some fellow faculty members speculated that he was more influenced by Whitehead than by the Bible. Charles Allen, a professor of theology at the seminary, undertook an analysis of the citations Williamson made in this text, and found that the biblical citations outnumbered the Whiteheadian citations by a significant margin. This is a theology true and faithful to the biblical text, to the fundamental gospel message of shalom, and to the theological enterprise of faith seeking understanding.
A faithful theology honest about Christian failures Jul 10, 2002
This is a credible statement of Christian faith for people who need to question everything. Williamson is best known and respected for his pioneering work in Christian-Jewish dialogue, and his respect for Judaism is apparent on every page. His other dialogue partners include feminist and liberation theologies, process theology, narrative theology and the work of Paul Tillich, an early mentor. For Williamson, the one and only criterion to employ in weighing any expression of Christian faith and life is the Gospel, i.e., "the promise of God's love freely and decisively offered to each and all in Jesus Christ and the command of God that justice be done to each and all" (86). This is the criterion that allows him frequently to be scathingly critical of conventional orthodoxies--all in the name of a deeper orthodoxy. Readers may not always agree with his conclusions, but if they don't, they will still have to answer to his fundamental criterion: does it live up to the Gospel?