Not Every Spirit: A Dogmatics of Christian Disbelief

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9781563380860: Not Every Spirit: A Dogmatics of Christian Disbelief
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To believe in God is not to believe everything. To trust everything without awareness of what is untrustworthy is not genuine faith in God. In a biblical understanding of faith in God, then, what is the role of the call not to believe every spirit? What disbeliefs does faithfulness require? Are there some things that Christian faith refuses to believe? If so, how do we come to recognize what they are? "The presence of faithful disbelief in the church," Professor Morse suggests, "gives the church's teaching and practice its timeliness in every cultural situation." Part One of his book therefore explores the notion of Christian faith as disbelief and how the task of "testing the spirits" develops and comes to be understood within Christianity as a theological discipline called dogmatics. Part two focuses on uncovering disbeliefs of the Christian faith concerning the Word of God, the being of God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, creation, salvation, humanity, the church, and the life to come. Here, then, is a fresh and timely dogmatic text that will take its place as a standard work on Christian teachings. "Professor Morse's meticulous scholarship in this book convinces Christians to examine not only what they believe but also to give attention to what they are called to disbelieve. In today's world of turmoil, distrust, and violence, Morse's work challenges Christians to reflect seriously on what they are to believe and what they are to do." ?Delores S. Williams, Union Seminary, NY Christopher Morse holds the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Chair in Theology and Ethics at Union Seminary, New York, and is the author of The Logic of Promise in Moltmann's Theology.

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About the Author:

Christopher Morse holds the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Chair in Theology and Ethics at Union Seminary, New York, and is the author of The Logic of Promise in Moltmann's Theology.

Review:

"Professor Morse's meticulous scholarship in this book convinces Christians to examine not only what they believe but also to give attention to what they are called to disbelieve. In today's world of turmoil, distrust, and violence, Morse's work challenges Christians to reflect seriously on what they are to believe and what they are to do." —Delores S. Williams, Union Seminary, NY (Delores S. Williams)

"I would recommend Morse to students who have no doubts about theirfaith and to students whose faith is constituted by their objections toit.— James J. Buckley, Loyola College, reviewing for Religious StudiesReview, January 1998 (from the first edition) (Religious Studies Review)

'Written during postliberalism's height and first published a decade prior to current philosophies and theologies of "the event", Morse's Not Every Spirit expertly delivers a concise, yet comprehensive, Christian dogmatics predicated on the notion of grace as event. For Morse, the Gospel is not a narrative in search of supplementation by human performance; it is something that happens, first and foremost. Accordingly, this book functions as a call to the church to stop acting and start witnessing — and for systematic theologians to put away the scripts and pick up the seismographs. It has fundamentally changed the way I think about, and do, Christian theology.' — Trevor Eppehimer, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Hood Theological Seminary. (Trevor Eppehimer)

'I have used several different introductory theology texts for teaching my basic courses, and Morse's book is by a good margin the most thoughtful and provocative. Although regularly invoking (in a way that feels neither authoritarian nor antiquarian) an impressive range of traditional voices, what is most impressive about this text is the way in which Morse manages to communicate a powerful and contemporary theological vision of his own without failing to give the reader a sense of the broad range of possible approaches to any given theological problem.' — Paul DeHart, Associate Professor of Theology, Vanderbilt University Divinity School. (Paul DeHart)

'Someone once said that most thinkers are either "clumpers" or "splitters", people who can think imaginatively and paint in bold strokes, or people who can think very precisely and analyze. Christopher Morse is among those unusual people who can do both. He understands the grand sweep of the gospel, of God's love poured out on a creation that groans in travail, and he knows how to help Christians think rigorously about what they believe — and what they disbelieve. Not every spirit is Christ's Spirit; sometimes the Church must say "no." It is part of Morse's gift to place such nay-saying in the service of God's truth.' — Joseph L. Mangina, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Wycliffe College, Toronto. (Joseph L. Mangina)

'There is no introduction to Christian doctrine that does a better job of equipping students to ask the questions that the church needs to ask about its faith and practice. By understanding doctrine as a reflection of what Christians refuse to believe about God, Christ, and the world around them, Christopher Morse offers a genuinely novel approach to systematic theology that is deeply rooted in Scripture and the life of the church. Neither trendy nor traditionalist, this book exemplifies a generous orthodoxy that provides unparalleled resources for disciplined yet charitable dialogue across even the most seemingly intractable confessional divisions.' — Ian A. McFarland, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Candler School of Theology, Emory University. (Ian A. McFarland)

'This is the finest one-volume dogmatics available in English today' — Kendall Soulen, Professor of Systematic Theology at Wesley Theological Seminary. (Kendall Soulen)

'For the many Christians who have a nearly allergic reaction to systematic theology, equating it with being authoritarian and closed-minded, this boldly subtitled A Dogmatics of Christian Disbelief can be a cure. Indeed, with faith comes many disbeliefs — such as a mistrust of authorities and an aversion to closed-mindedness. This book clears the ground of disbeliefs in order to expose those things we do believe, and treasure. My students, many of them experienced pastors and from a wide spectrum of denominations, typically approach this book with reluctance (it's thick and about dogma!), then reach its final chapters with real gratitude for the new trails in their theological imaginations it has helped them to discover, trails first cleared by our ancestors in the faith, as well as trails as yet untraversed.' — Kelton Cobb, Professor of Theology and Ethics, Hartford Seminary, Hartford, CT. (Kelton Cobb)

'Christopher Morse's Not Every Spirit is a most distinctive apology for Christian faith, a postmodern update of Aquinas, superbly combining the dogmatic tasks of Systematics with Ethics (the science of moral reasoning) for a changed and changing world. As a liberation theologian, committed to finding and publishing good news for the poor, I am pleased to have such a richly profound resource that recognizes Christianity's historic abuses yet allows me to explore its potential and actual role in establishing human worth and freedom on personal and collective levels, in devotional, private dimensions, and institutional, liturgical forms. One cannot help but be deepened by an encounter with the honest and honourable Spirit in Not Every Spirit. That Professor Morse's text is intellectually rigorous yet is readable and sensible makes his model method for doing theology in the twenty-first century and beyond.' — JoAnne Marie Terrell, Associate Professor of Ethics and Theology, Chicago Theological Seminary. (JoAnne Marie Terrell)

'The signal merit of this book, as studied as it is readable, is Morse's ability to draw readers into the innermost workings of Christian doctrines, displaying the connections and dynamics which enliven them. By engaging contemporary objections and clarifying those disbeliefs which positive Christian faith enjoins, Morse demonstrates afresh how the Christian gospel itself exposes Christian teaching to the most salutary criticism. That our faith requires theology, and that theology requires argument within, around, and for the sake of a better faithfulness — of these truths Morse is the most expert of teachers. And I can think of no textbook that so convincingly shows how dogmatics, by pursuing that better faithfulness, thereby serves the better righteousness for which Christians both hope and labor.' — Philip G. Ziegler, Lecturer in Systematic Theology, University of Aberdeen. (Philip G. Ziegler)

'Every chapter... displays Morse's profound competence as a theologian.... This has already proved to be a valuable text for courses in systematic theology.' — Charles M. Wood, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. (Charles M. Wood)

'This is a really distinctive voice in current theology with an important fresh approach. Exploring the disbeliefs that lie at the heart of Christian faith in accessible, concise, and original ways, Morse proves the truth of his own maxim that a good dogmatics is the best antidote to dogmatism about both faith and morals.' — David H. Kelsey, Yale University Divinity School. (David H. Kelsey)

'Not Every Spirit is an outstanding introduction to Christian Theology. Christopher Morse creatively illuminates a wide range of crucial contemporary issues. Arguing that the Christian faith entails not only beliefs, but also disbeliefs, Morse shows the theoretical and practical significance of these disbeliefs in a provocative and insightful way. The result is a theology that is both critical and affirmative. ' — Francis Schüssler Fiorenza, Harvard University, The Divinity School. (Francis Schüssler Fiorenza)

“Professor Morse's meticulous scholarship in this book convinces Christians to examine not only what they believe but also to give attention to what they are called to disbelieve. In today’s world of turmoil, distrust, and violence, Morse’s work challenges Christians to reflect seriously on what they are to believe and what they are to do.” —Delores S. Williams, Union Seminary, NY (Sanford Lakoff)

'Written during postliberalism’s height and first published a decade prior to current philosophies and theologies of “the event”, Morse’s Not Every Spirit expertly delivers a concise, yet comprehensive, Christian dogmatics predicated on the notion of grace as event. For Morse, the Gospel is not a narrative in search of supplementation by human performance; it is something that happens, first and foremost. Accordingly, this book functions as a call to the church to stop acting and start witnessing – and for systematic theologians to put away the scripts and pick up the seismographs. It has fundamentally changed the way I think about, and do, Christian theology.’ – Trevor Eppehimer, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Hood Theological Seminary. (Sanford Lakoff)

'I have used several different introductory theology texts for teaching my basic courses, and Morse’s book is by a good margin the most thoughtful and provocative. Although regularly invoking (in a way that feels neither authoritarian nor antiquarian) an impressive range of traditional voices, what is most impressive about this text is the way in which Morse manages to communicate a powerful and contemporary theological vision of his own without failing to give the reader a sense of the broad range of possible approaches to any given theological problem.’ – Paul DeHart, Associate Professor of Theology, Vanderbilt University Divinity School. (Sanford Lakoff)

'Someone once said that most thinkers are either “clumpers” or “splitters”, people who can think imaginatively and paint in bold strokes, or people who can think very precisely and analyze. Christopher Morse is among those unusual people who can do both. He understands the grand sweep of the gospel, of God’s love poured out on a creation that groans in travail, and he knows how to help Christians think rigorously about what they believe – and what they disbelieve. Not every spirit is Christ’s Spirit; sometimes the Church must say “no.” It is part of Morse’s gift to place such nay-saying in the service of God’s truth.’ – Joseph L. Mangina, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Wycliffe College, Toronto. (Sanford Lakoff)

'There is no introduction to Christian doctrine that does a better job of equipping students to ask the questions that the church needs to ask about its faith and practice. By understanding doctrine as a reflection of what Christians refuse to believe about God, Christ, and the world around them, Christopher Morse offers a genuinely novel approach to systematic theology that is deeply rooted in Scripture and the life of the church. Neither trendy nor traditionalist, this book exemplifies a generous orthodoxy that provides unparalleled resources for disciplined yet charitable dialogue across even the most seemingly intractable confessional divisions.’ – Ian A. McFarland, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Candler School of Theology, Emory University. (Sanford Lakoff)

'This is the finest one-volume dogmatics available in English today’ – Kendall Soulen, Professor of Systematic Theology at Wesley Theological Seminary. (Sanford Lakoff)

'For the many Christians who have a nearly allergic reaction to systematic theology, equating it with being authoritarian and closed-minded, this boldly subtitled A Dogmatics of Christian Disbelief can be a cure. Indeed, with faith comes many disbeliefs – such as a mistrust of authorities and an aversion to closed-mindedness. This book clears the ground of disbeliefs in order to expose those things we do believe, and treasure. My students, many of them experienced pastors and from a wide spectrum of denominations, typically approach this book with reluctance (it’s thick and about dogma!), then reach its final chapters with real gratitude for the new trails in their theological imaginations it has helped them to discover, trails first cleared by our ancestors in the faith, as well as trails as yet untraversed.’ – Kelton Cobb, Professor of Theology and Ethics, Hartford Seminary, Hartford, CT. (Sanford Lakoff)

'Christopher Morse’s

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9780567027436: Not Every Spirit: A Dogmatics of Christian Disbelief, 2nd Edition

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