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Book: Mere Humanity - Chesterton, Lewis and Tolkien on the Human Condition by Donald Williams

Book Review: Mere Humanity - Chesterton, Lewis and Tolkien on the Human Condition by Donald Williams

categories: Books, Religion & Spirituality, Christianity, Theology, religion

Author: Donald T. Williams
Publisher: B&H Books

 Being Human and The Western Tradition

The similarities between Neo-Reformed and Roman theology are striking. Their emphasis on themes such as Covenant and Kingdom, being human, and the Holy Spirit all serve to show us the role of story and narrative in theology. The influence of both Judaic Christian and Greco Roman understandings help to make up what we know as the Western Tradition. Theologians ranging from Augustine to Ignatius to contemporaries such as those addressed in Mere Humanity, as well as noteworthies such as Jean Vanier and Victor Frankl attempt to answer the question as to the meaning of being human.

In Mere Humanity, I especially appreciated the emphasis on the role that C.S. Lewis gives to "The Tao" in Abolition of Man. Here, another ancient tradition reminds us of the problem with modern reductionism. For example, the dividing of all of reality into the "objective" vs. the "subjective", rendering the 'subjective', such as ethics, morals and spirituality to another sphere that we cannot consider to be fully true or real. The Tao, on the other hand, would encourage us to see all of the things as an integral part of a meaningful whole.

The rejection of traditional theology also gave rise to the triumph of secular materialism at various points down through modern history, such as the rise of Napoleon, Stalin, and eugenics theories. To the contrary, activists such as Martin Luther King and Oscar Romero drew more fully from the Western Tradition and other spiritualities. This is indeed the flip side of the "metanarrative of Church history", at least to how some postmoderns would try to portray it.

All and all, it was refreshing to be reminded of the role that traditional theology has played in the rich traditions of literature and Christian spirituality as we have come to know them today. While they may have various rivals in current academia, they continue to hold their own. Bravo!

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