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Divine Transcendence and the Culture of Change Paperback – December 16, 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (December 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802865054
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802865052
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,696,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“An excellent guide through the sixteenth-century Reformation in both its historical development and its present-day reception.”
— Steven Ozment
Harvard University

“This book should be read by any who suppose that the Reformation has run its course and by those who want to renew its essential vision of God’s grace and glory. Hopper’s critique of pure tolerance on solid Reformational grounds is tonic for the mind and soul. It aims to help us recover from the dreary domestication of transcendence in a way that will connect Christ anew with the needed transformation of culture in the West.”
— George Hunsinger
Princeton Theological Seminary

“David H. Hopper has a fascinating and provocative argument about historical and practical connections between, at one end, the Reformation’s insistence that the presence of God in the suffering and weakness of the cross brings with it a this-worldly, world-affirming concept of divine transcendence and, correlatively, a this-worldly, world-affirming concept of the life of faith, and, at the other end, the eventual rise of modernity as a culture of change, a culture that nurtures and values change that is oriented to promoting the common good especially through science and technology — with the downside that when consciousness of God’s inner-worldly transcendence fades as the context of scientifically and technologically driven change, the culture of change becomes dangerous because it loses an awareness of its own finitude and pursues change for its own sake.”
— David H. Kelsey
Yale Divinity School

About the Author

David H. Hopper is the James Wallace Professor of Religion Emeritus at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. His other books include A Dissent on Bonhoeffer and Technology, Theology, and the Idea of Progress.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sherry M. Peyton on March 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
David Hopper has set out an interesting premise in his latest book: Namely have we gone too far in tolerance? He essentially argues that statements such as "It doesn't matter what a person believes just so long as he/she is sincere," are the product of ill-educated minds who know very little of theological matters. In other words, it's one thing to be tolerant in a prudent sort of way, but it is wrong to have no standards at all.

He argues that the divine transcendence of God has been lost in this thoughtless attempt to not step on toes.

Many have perhaps come to the same conclusion, but they have done so by laying the blame on the "scientific revolution," and its concommitant inference that nothing is beyond the mind of mankind.

Hopper argues that the Reformation, in the guise of Luther, Calvin and others of the same persuasion also played a part, perhaps unknowingly, in fostering this climate.

He starts with the model set out by H. Richard Niebuhr in his Christ and Culture. In it Niebuhr posited five expressions of Jesus and culture:

Christ against culture
Christ of culture
Christ above culture
Christ of culture
Christ the transformer of culture.
He places various movements, the monastic, Calvin, Mainstream Protestant, Catholic, Feminist, and so forth within this model at their most agreeing points.

Hopper sees in the Reformation movement and the following Enlightenment, a movement away from a "religious church-dominated culture" to one predominately secular, and one that has largely discarded its timeless orientation to the changeless and divine.

Luther addressed a church largely caught in the medieval concepts of Christ both above and against culture.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John G. Gibbs on December 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
Signal Contribution to History of Ideas, December 8, 2011

This book will be read, re-read, and researched for years to come. It is a signal contribution to the history of ideas.

Hopper makes a theological advance beyond H. Richard Niebuhr's Christ and Culture. Cruciform transcendence is not escape from this world; it thrusts Church into world. It critiques "acquiescence to domination by scientific-technological change, along with its economic exploitation," and ignites progress in compassion and service.

Some realities can be perceived only from a distance. From the distance of cruciform transcendence Martin Luther critiqued other-worldliness, and called for "the freedom of faith through grace." From that same fixed point of reference John Calvin constructed "corporate social responsibilities" and "corporate-historical existence"; and Karl Barth "elaborated on the fellowship of believers as...a social-political body that moves beyond 'both individualism and collectivism.'"

Fascinating is Hopper's documented recovery of theological sources on which Frances Bacon drew as he laid the foundation for culture of change. Bacon saw truth as "a critical future-oriented process, a 'daughter of time, not of authority.'" Contrary to change as "deficiency of being," Bacon and Hopper view certain kinds of change positively.

Debatable: has history replaced nature "as the locus of God's covenantal presence," as Hopper contends? Nonetheless, Hopper effectively shows transcendence emerging from the cross-event.

Further: Hopper finds Christian influences on secular culture's commitment to change; "...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. E Westgard on June 27, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a history major with a background in geology, I though I understood something about man and the history of his relation to nature.
But David Hopper's work has opened new lines of inquiry for me as I consider nature imposed limits on humanity's growth. Understanding a transcendent God brings a realization of the limits to our abilities. Understanding that the Laws of Nature are transcendent helps to understand the fundamental limits on material growth.
I am still probing this complex work, but it is certainly worth the effort.
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