Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Harvey Cox: James Luther Adams, Evangelical?
A two-part announcement: With a little help from yours truly, the James Luther Adams Foundation now has a website. The JLA Foundation promotes the ongoing relevance of the theology and social ethics of Professor James Luther Adams, the most important Unitarian Universalist theologian of the twentieth century. At the foundation's Forum on Religion and Society this year, Harvey Cox will speak at Harvard Divinity School on the topic, "James Luther Adams: Evangelical Unitarian or Unitarian Evangelical?" The lecture is Tuesday, March 13, at 5:15 p.m. in the Sperry Room at Andover Hall. You know you're wondering what Cox will have to say.
P.S. I'll be especially eager to ask Cox what he makes of the final chapter of Chris Hedges' book, American Fascists, which says Adams predicted that the Christian Right would be the vanguard of neofascism in the United States in the not too distant future. (American Fascists will be the most widely read book discussing Adams in a very long time.) I read that chapter in the Harvard Book Store this weekend and couldn't help but think that Hedges might have misunderstood Adams's larger point. When Adams visited Nazi Germany, he was indeed astonished that the liberal churches and the universities of the 1930s had capitulated to Nazism. He found resistance to the Nazis on two fronts: on the secular far left, to be sure, but also — and more impressively, to Adams the theologian — in the "confessing church" among pastors like Karl Barth. Adams focused on the theology of the Christian resistance, hoping to show American liberal Christians how to be wary of their own capitulation to general trends in the larger culture.
Hedges' book is not addressed to American Christians, however, but to readers of The Nation. That's a pity, because secular lefties already believe Evangelicals (and "religion" in general) are the problem in America. Adams would disagree. It's the churches that need awakening, and they need awakening in the name of the gospel. Hedges may be right that some wings of the Evangelical movement are actively pursuing some form of theocratic nationalism, but I guess I'll need to read the rest of the book to see what social force he hopes to mobilize to strengthen liberal democracy.
Copyright © 2007 by Philocrites | Posted 20 February 2007 at 8:13 AM