Having left its Christian roots behind, the West faces a moral, spiritual and intellectual crisis. It has little left to maintain its legacy of reason, freedom, human dignity and democracy. Far from capitulating, Jens Zimmermann believes the church has an opportunity to speak a surprising word into this postmodern situation grounded in the Incarnation itself that is proclaimed in Christian preaching and eucharistic celebration.
To do so requires that we retrieve an ancient Christian humanism for our time. Only this will acknowledge and answer the general demand for a common humanity beyond religious, denominational and secular divides. Incarnational Humanism thus points the way forward by pointing backward. Rather than resorting to theological novelty, Zimmermann draws on the rich resources found in Scripture and in its theological interpreters ranging from Irenaeus and Augustine to de Lubac and Bonhoeffer.
Zimmermann masterfully draws his comprehensive study together by proposing a distinctly evangelical philosophy of culture. That philosophy grasps the link between the new humanity inaugurated by Christ and all of humanity. In this way he holds up a picture of the public ministry of the church as a witness to the world's reconciliation to God.
"A timely and insightful analysis of how human beings, in the course of several centuries, have come to dominate a world and yet have lost their sense of what it means to be human. Jens Zimmermann demonstrates with depth and clarity the way that our common humanity was recovered in the incarnation and is communicated to us and to the world in the eucharist. This is truly a book for our times."
"Zimmermann rightly challenges the dualism that remains endemic to much evangelical spirituality. Tracing the history of incarnational humanism, he presents a call back to a sacramental, participatory view of reality. Perhaps the most hopeful element of Zimmermann's account is its concluding plea for the centrality of the Eucharist for a Christian approach to the world. This book will become assigned reading for my Theology of Culture class!"
"At a time when various secular humanisms are thriving, Christians might imagine that the way forward is to make common cause with others in promoting human values without mentioning doctrines that specifically pertain to Christianity. With his characteristic erudition and eloquence, Jens Zimmermann shows that the opposite is the case: it is precisely in and through the incarnation of Jesus Christ that true humanism flourishes, because human life together requires the healing and hope that God brings by even now drawing us into his life. Without faith, hope and love, humanity founders. Zimmermann sheds profound light upon the full scope of life in Christ."
"The book is an invaluable guide through the way that traditional Christian understandings of human beings and humanism have been engaged by critics through the centuries since the foundation of the Church."
"This volume is an excellent mix of scholarship and confession. I recommend it for professors of Christian philosophy and systematic theology as well as historians and serious pastors."
"Despite wading through deep waters of theology and philosophy, the author's nimble prose makes this book readable and suitable for both advanced undergraduates and graduate students in theology. I would suggest it for inclusion in an introductory course on historical theology, and classes on Christianity and culture or philosophy and theology."
"This work will help pastors and teachers appreciate the rich heritage of Christian thought and place these insights in frameworks that twenty-first century hearers can understand."
"I would certainly recommend this book as a must read for those who seek to develop a theology of culture or wish to defend the right of Christians to promote their values in the public square."
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Without Roots: The Current Malaise of Western Culture
Without Roots: The Current Malaise of Western Culture
The West's Cultural Heritage: Christianity or Enlightenment?
The Exhaustion of Secularism
The Return of Religion
Chapter 2: The Beginnings of Incarnational Humanism
Christology and the Incarnation
The imago Dei
The Heart of Patristic Humanism: Deification
The Correlation of Reason and Faith
The Fruits of Reason: Education as Transformative Participation in the Divine Word
Founding a Common Humanity
Eucharistic Humanism and Human Solidarity
Chapter 3: The Further Development of Christian Humanism
The Retrieval of Patristic Theology
The Incarnation and the imago Dei
The Importance of the Incarnation
Christian Humanism after the Renaissance
Chapter 4: The Rise of Anti-Humanism
The Beginning of the End: The Unity of Mind and Being in Kant and Hegel
Nietzsche's Anti-Platonism and the Birth of Anti-Humanism
Nietzsche's Anti-Humanism Heirs: Michel Foucault and Martin Heidegger
Martin Heidegger: From Anti-Humanism to Hyper-Humanism
Chapter 5: Still No Incarnation: From Anti-Humanism to the Postmodern God
Levinas's Humanism of the Other
The Disincarnate God of Continental Philosophy
Gianni Vattimo: Incarnation without Transcendence
Problems With Vattimo's Incarnational Ontology
Chapter 6: Incarnational Humanism as Cultural Philosophy
God's Presence in the World: Sacred and Secular
God's Presence in the Church
The Heart of the Church: The Eucharist
The Sacrament of the Word
Eucharistic Humanism: The Link Between Church and World