Nicholas J. HEALY and D.C. SCHINDLER (eds.). Being Holy in the World: Theology and Culture in the Thought of David L.Schindler. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2011. Pp. 302. $24.99. ISBN 978-0-8028-6554—0.
Reviewed by Scott W. BULLARD, Judson College, 302 Bibb Street, Marion, AL 36756

It is rare indeed that a volume of essays on the work of an influential author combine to give the reader both a fulsome survey of the author’s thought but also reveal a thread running through the author’s work that is easy to locate. However, that is just what has been accomplished by the contributors to Being Holy in the World: Theology and Culture in the Thought of David L. Schindler (Nicholas J. Healy and D.C. Schindler, eds. [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2011]). In this volume, editors Healy and Schindler have clearly worked to arrange the chapters so that the reader comes away feeling as though she has a better understanding of all of the branches of the Christian philosopher-theolologian Schindler’s work, but also of the “trunk.”

Speaking of the trunk, the contributors repeatedly focus upon Schindler’s idea that “being holy in the world” begins with recognizing the consequences of claiming that God is, and that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – three persons who always and everywhere empty themselves into one another and into the world. Moreover, as the philosopher-theologian Schindler would do, the editors see to it that the idea that “God is” is thoroughly examined, and its implications drawn out.

As Schindler’s son, D.C. Schindler, points out in his essay, for the elder Schindler, “if worldly being is most fundamentally characterized as created, and therefore as gift, it means that receptivity lies at the innermost heart of reality … “ D.C. Schindler goes on to add “now, if receptivity is absolute in this way, it must necessarily resonate in and into all other ‘levels’ of being; the createdness of being implies a concrete mode of being that, as an ontological mode, makes itself felt everywhere” (Healy and Schindler, 15).

The importance of D.C. Schindler’s point cannot be overstated. From his father’s perspective, if one affirms that God exists, then a mode of receptivity must characterize one’s life, and “any pattern of life or form of thought that denies the significance of receptivity … is an implicit atheism” (15). As Peter Casarella says in the essay which immediately follows that of Schindler, the human person who recognizes creation as gift “cannot but engage the pressing social questions of our day” (31).

The volume reveals, moreover, not only Schindler’s theism but an utterly Trinitarian theology which insists upon Christians’ engagement with culture. Like Schindler’s academic career itself, the volume reveals, later rather than earlier, an explicitly Trinitarian bent. And yet, the God who, as gift, spoke creation into existence is indeed named as Father, Son, and Spirit. Casarella, whose essay “Trinity and Creation” connects nicely with the ones that precede it, notes that for Schindler, when we see that God “has revealed himself historically to be the Trinitarian love become incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth, what happens is that we are now disposed to see love as constitutive of all of creation, as affecting intrinsically every fiber of every being in the cosmos” (39).

Moreover, Casarella does not hesitate to imply what this might mean for ”being holy in the (contemporary) world” (parentheses his). The primacy of love and receptivity is a metaphysical concept which reaches into every branch of theology, and therefore into every aspect of human existence. Regarding human love and sexuality, as Michael Hanby shows, receptivity must guide couples not only as they discern God’s will for their family, their openness to children, and the Church’s stance on reproductive technology. In terms of political liberalism and nationalism, Casarella and Adrian Walker show why an emphasis on receptivity lead Schindler to take on George Weigel and other so-called “neo-conservatives,” wondering if their political theologies have fully understood the implications of “the doctrine of the homoousion claimed by Nicaea and Chalcedon” (40, 128).

This volume is worthwhile reading, both for persons steeped in Schindler’s thought and for scholars looking for an introduction to his thought. In terms of readability, it is certainly not for the faint of heart, but neither is it overly dense or abstract. In fact, the authors show exactly why allegedly “abstract” metaphysical questions must be answered, and answered well – for all persons who proclaim that the Word has taken on the flesh.

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