This volume is a collection of 33 essays, sermons, and contemporaneous addresses by Paul L. Lehmann, a highly influential theological voice of the twentieth century. Lehmann was a close friend of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a student and friend of Reinhold Niebuhr, and a longtime colleague of James Cone. One of the first American readers of Karl Barth, Lehmann's work also influenced early liberation theologies throughout the world. The works included here span the years 1938-1998 and are organized around the following themes: the direction of theology today (I); the revolutionary dimension of the gospel (II); the future of theology in a post-Christian world (III); and Dietrich Bonhoeffer: a theological friendship (IV). The works contained in this volume were written to address a particular context yet remain surprisingly relevant for today.
Nancy J. Duff is the Stephen Colwell Associate Professor of Christian Ethics Emerita, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ.
Ry O. Siggelkow is the director of the Leadership Center for Social Justice at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, St. Paul, MN.
Brandon K. Watson is the academic assistant for systematic theology at the Protestant University Wuppertal and a researcher at Heidelberg University.
Part I: The Direction of Theology Today
Introduction to Part I
1. The Direction of Theology Today (1946)
2. Contextual Theology (1972)
3. The Context of Theological Inquiry (1956)
4. The Formative Power of Particularity (1963)
5. The Dynamics of Reformation Ethics (1950)
6. Barth and Brunner: The Dilemma of the Protestant Mind (1940)
7. The Ant and the Emperor (1998)
8. Theologians Who Have Influenced Me [Reinhold Niebuhr] (1970)
9. Louise Pettibone Smith, Rudolf Bultmann, and Wellesley (1985)
Part II: The Revolutionary Dimension of the Gospel
Introduction to Part II
10. The Shape of Theology for a World in Revolution (1965)
11. Toward a Protestant Analysis of the Ethical Problem (1944)
12. The Politics of Easter (1980)
13. Piety, Power, and Politics: Church and Ministry Between Ratification and Resistance (1982)
14. The Christian Faith and Civil Liberties (1952)
15. Karl Barth, Theologian of Permanent Revolution (1972)
16. Black Theology and “Christian” Theology (1975)
17. The Transfiguration of Jesus and Revolutionary Politics (1975)
Part III: The Future of Theology in a Post-Christian World
Introduction to Part III
18. Protestantism in a Post-Christian World (1962)
19. For an Abrahamic People (1974)
20. The Changing Course of a Corrective Theology (1956)
21. Law as a Function of Forgiveness (1959)
22. No Uncertain Sound (1973)
23. Stranger Within the Gate: Two Stories for the American Conscience (1972)
24. A Christian Alternative to Natural Law (1942)
Part IV: Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Theological Friendship
Introduction to Part IV
25. Eberhard Bethge, Paul Lehmann’s Initiative (1974)
26. Invitation and Contribution of Lehmann for a BBC Broadcast about Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1960)
27. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Some Vignettes of Remembrance and Interpretation (1984)
28. Faith and Worldliness in Bonhoeffer’s Thought (1967)
29. Logos in a World Come of Age (1964)
30. Bonhoeffer and Paul Lehmann Correspondence (1938-1939)
31. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Four Theological Giants Influence Our Faith (1968)
32. Bonhoeffer – Real or Counterfeit (1966)
33. Called for Freedom (1947)
The Revolutionary Gospel provides a timely collection for theologians already interested in Paul Lehmann’s distinctive theological ethic and for a generation of readers less familiar with his work. This volume invites us to read Lehmann’s work through the intercultural lenses of world Christianity, with heightened attention to indigeneity and context. That Lehmann understood God’s actions in the world as revolutionary and humanizing made his work attractive to a generation of thinkers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America forging their own revolutionary theologies in the late 20th century. His insights remain dynamic in those contexts and may impact questions to be asked as Christians act responsibly in today’s world.
This collection of essays, lectures, and correspondence from Paul Lehmann spans some 50 years. Thoughtfully gathered by Nancy J. Duff, Ry Siggelkow, and Brandon K. Watson, it affords a panoramic view of Lehmann’s uniquely theological ethical vision. Educated by the leading lights of his own generation, including Reinhold Niebuhr, Emil Brunner, Karl Barth, and influenced by his close friend, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the ethical task for Lehmann was not primarily speculative thought, but practical action. Hence, Lehmann subordinates a prudential wisdom that would ratify the status quo, to a prophetic vision that would continually seek to discern what God is up to in the world. Lehmann sees this biblical vision as revolutionary because it calls to account all established power before the living God. This vision is also revolutionary because it declares the gospel of God’s inbreaking revelation in and through Jesus Christ as actually taking place amid the confusing currents of political, cultural, and intellectual life. And this gospel is also revolutionary, because it invites us into a life of discerning, imagining, and following where the Spirit of Christ is at work. This divine work of “salvation” Lehmann spoke of as “humanization,” and his own political actions on behalf of those oppressed by colonialism, or misled by demagogic politicians or a rapacious capitalism, were undertaken “to make and to keep human life human.” Amid the interlocking political and economic systems that perennially worship their own power, the publication of this volume is itself a reminder that the gospel of the humanizing God is still on the scene.
This collection of Paul Lehmann’s essays is a treasure chest containing precious jewels of Christian theology. It is an invaluable resource for theologians and preachers in constructing theological imagination in wrestling with socio-political and cultural issues emerging from our time of crisis. The essays remind the Christian church and academia of God’s revolutionary politics and invite them to search for God’s humanizing activity through critical reflection and discernment in a concrete life in our concrete context.