Title: The Ellul Forum
Subtitle: For the Critique of Technological Civilization
Date: 1988-Present
Notes: This document is still a work in progress formatting. Essay title headings are fully fixed, but it could do with having more section headings marked. Quote indents are fully fixed up to Issue #11 and then intermittently fixed after that point.

  Issue #1 Fall 1988 — Debut Issue



        Call for Manuscripts

        Paper Exchange

        Volunteers Needed

    Book Reviews

      Theological Method in Jacques Ellul

      Freeom and Universal Salvation: Ellul and Origen




      The Ethical Importance of Universal Salvation

      A Visit with Jacques Ellul

      Media Development Devotes Issue to Ellul

      Forthcoming Ellul Publications


      Ellul and Propaganda Review

  Issue #2 Nov 1988 — Ellul's Universalist Eschatology

      In This Issue

      From the Editor

      2nd Ellul Consultation Scheduled for November AAR

      First Inter-American Congress on Philosophy and Technology

        Conference on Democracy and Technology

        Paper Exchange

        Thanks for the Help


    Book Reviews

      The Growth of Minds and Cultures


      Jesus and Marx: *From Gospel to Ideology: A Critique

    Forum Response

      The Importance of Eschatology for Ellul’s Ethics and Soteriology: A Response to Darrell Fasching

      A Second Forum Response to Fasching

      Fasching's Reply

      Bibliographic Notes on Theology and Technology

        Call for Manuscripts

        U.S.F. Monographs in Religion and Public Policy

  Issue #3 Jun 1989 — Eller and Ellul on Christian Anarchy

      In This Issue

      From the Editor


      Be Reconciled

      Update on Ellul Publications

      The Presence of the Kingdom - Back in Print

    Forum Response

      A Reponse to Michael Bauman’s Review of Jesus and Marx

    Anarchism and Christianity

      The Paradox of Anarchism and Christianity

      Eller’s Crowning Achievement

      Christian Anarchy

        Translators Needed

        Advisory Board Appointed

    Book Reviews

      Jacques Ellul, Anarchic et Christianisme

      Jesus and Marx: From Gospel to Ideology, by Jacques Ellul

    Bibliographic Notes on Theology and Technology

      Bibliographic Report on Some Recent British Discussions Regarding Christianity and Technology

        Science and Faith Newsletter

        Engineers Group Newsletter


      Call for Manuscripts

        Peter Lang Publishing

        U.S.F. Monographs in Religion and Public Policy

        Guidelines for Submissions to The Ellul Studies Forum

  Issue #4 Nov 1989 — Judaism and Christianity after Auschwitz and Hiroshima

      In This Issue

      From the Editor

    Book Reviews

      Un Chretien pour Israel, by Jacques Ellul

      ‘What I Believe’ by Jacques Ellul


      After Auschwitz and Hiroshima: Judaism and Christianity in a Technological Civilization

        From Anti-Judaism to Anti-Semitism and Auschwitz

        Two Models of Faith and Ethics

        The Sacred, the Secular and the Demonic: Genocide as Deicide

        Ellul’s Contribution to Post-Shoah Christian Ethics

        From Auschwitz to Hiroshima: The Demonic Autonomy of Technique

        Beyond Auschwitz and Hiroshima: Welcoming the Stranger


      On Christians, Jews, and the Law

      Jacques Ellul, Le bluff technologique [The Technological Bluff].

        Contributions Welcome

    Forum Response

      Vernard Eller’s Response to Katharine Temple

      Michael Bauman’s Response to Jacques Ellul


      Bibliographic Notes on Theology and Technology

  Issue #5 Jun 1990 — The Utopian Theology of Gabriel Vahanian

      In This Issue

      From The Editor

    Book Reviews

      The Struggle for America ’s Soul: Evangelicals, Liberals, and Secularism. By Robert Wuthnow.

    Forum I

      The Utopian Theology of Gabriel Vahanian

      God and Utopia: The Church in a Technological Civilization

      Dieu anonyme, ou la peur des mots [God Anonymous, or Fear of Words]

        God Speaks Our Language

        Speech and Utopia: God

        Salvation and Utopia: The Christ

        Utopianism of the Body and Social Order The Spirit

      Theology of Culture: Tillich's Quest for a New Religious Paradigm

    Forum II

      Law and Ethics in Ellul’s Theology

      Notes on the Catholic Church and Technology




        Guidelines for Submissions to The Ellul Studies Forum


      Bibliographic Notes on Theology and Technology

  Issue #6 Nov 1990 — Faith and Wealth in a Technological Civilization

      Ellul Forum Conference at AAR, Nov. 17th

      In This Issue

    Book Reviews

      Money and Power by Jacques Ellul

      Public Theology and Political Economy: Christian Stewardship in Modem Society

      Faith and Wealth by Justo L. Gonzalez

      The Stewardship of Life in the Kingdom of Death.


      Some Reflections on Faith and Wealth

      Luke 14:33 and the Normativity of Dispossession

        Ellul and Voluntary Poverty

        The Importance of Luke 14:33

        The Context: The Cost Has Been Counted

        Inadequacy of Resources in the Parables of w. 28-32

        The Terms of Luke 14:33

        Can the Text Be Spiritualized?

      Back Cover

        Book Reviewers Needed

        Ellul Forum Meeting at the AAR Convention

        Guidelines for Submissions to The Ellul Studies Forum


  Issue #7 Jul 1991 — Jacques Ellul as a Theologian for Catholics

      In This Issue

      In Memory of Mme Yvette Ellul

    Book Reviews

      The Technological Bluff, by Jacques Ellul

      Reason for Being: A Meditation on Ecclesiastes by Jacques Ellul

      Into the Darkness: Discipleship in the Sermon on the Mount by Gene L. Davenport

      Ethics After Babel by Jeffrey Stout. Beacon Press: Boston, 1988, xiv + 338pp.

      Bulletin Board


      Jacques Ellul and the Catholic Worker of the Next Century: Therefore Choose Life

      Jacques Ellul: A Catholic Worker Vision of the Culture

      Born-Again Catholic Workers: A Conversation between Jeff Dietrich and Katherine Temple

      Jacques Ellul and Thomas Merton on Technique

  Issue #8 Jan 1992 — Ivan Illich's Theology of Technology

      In This Issue

      From the Editor

      About This Issue

      Bulletin Board

        About the Ellul Studies Forum


        Bibliographic Reviews

        Book Reviews

    Forum – Ivan Illich: Toward a Theology of Technology

      Health as One's Own Responsibility: No, Thank You!

      Against Health: An Interview with Ivan Illich

      Promo for Narrative Theology after Auschwitz

      Reflections on "Health as One's Own Responsibility"

      The Teddy Bearracks

      Posthumous Longevity

      Toward A Post-Clerical Church

      ”Dear Kelly" Memo

      Recent & Forthcoming Works By Jacques Ellul

  Issue #9 Jul 1992 — Ellul on Communications Technology

      From the Editor

      About This Issue

      In This Issue

      Bulletin Board

        Ethics After Auschwitz and Hiroshima

    Forum: Ellul on Communications Technology

      Ellul on the Need for Symbolism

        Ellul’s Terminology

        Symbolization as a Basic Human Need

        Self-Symbollzatlon of la technique

        The Need for New Symbols

        Intervention Into the Cycle

      Where Mass Media Abound, The Word Abounds Greater Still

        Where Mass Media Abound Ethical Freedom Disappears - Or Does It?

        The Word Abounds Greater Still

      Promo for Narrative Theology after Auschwitz

      Communication Theory in Ellul's Sociology

    Book Reviews

      Dancing in the Dark: Youth, Popular Culture and the Electronic Media

      Mythmakers: Gospel, Culture, and the Media

      Religious Television: Controversies and Conclusions


      The Hope Of Intervention: A Rhetorical Analysis Of The English Translations Of The Writings Of Jacques Ellul,

      The Technological City: 1984 In Singapore,

      Biblioraphic Notes on Theology and Technology

      About The Ellul Studies Forum


        Manuscript Submissions


        Bibliographic Reviews

        Book Reviews

  Issue #10 Jan 1993 — Technique and the Paradoxes of Development

      In This Issue

        From the Editor

      About This Issue

      Bulletin Board

        A Facelift and Change of Philosophy for the Forum

        About Ellul

        L’Association Jacques Ellul

        Ellul Documentary Debuts in Holland

    Forum: Technique and the Paradoxes of Development

      Reflections on Social Techniques

      Promo for Narrative Theology After Auschwitz

      Jacques Ellul on Development: Why It Doesn’t Work

      ”Good" Development and Its Mirages

        I. Development as Always "Good"

        Development as good growth.

        Growth as the “good"

        II. Sustainable Development as a Paradox

        III. Conclusion

    Book Reviews

      Technique, Discourse and Consciousness: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Jacques Ellul

  Issue #11 Jul 1993 — Technique and Utopia Revisited

      In This Issue

      From the Editor

      About This Issue

      Bulletin Board

        The Ellul Institute Founded in Riverside California

        New Editorial Board Appointments and International Subscriptions

        Wheaton College Establishes the Jacques Ellul Collection

        The "Association Jacques Ellul" Formed in Bordeaux

        Conference Planned in Bordeaux on "Technique and Society in the Work of Jacques Ellul"

    Forum: Technique and Utopianism Revisited

      Ellul and Vahanian on Technology and Utopianism

        1) The Specificity of the West

        2) Technology and Utopianism

        3) The Problem of Language

      Back to Ellul by Way of Weyembergh

      Ellul and Vahanian: Apocalypse or Utopia?

    Book Reviews

      Lire Ellul: introduction a I’oeuvre socio-politique de Jacques Ellul, by Patrick Troude-Chastenet

      The Social Creation of Nature by Neil Evemden, (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992).


        Narrative Theology After Auschwitz

        The Ethical Challenge of Auschwitz and Hiroshima Apocalypse or Utopia?

  Issue #12 Jan 1994 — Ethical Relativism and Technological Civilization

      From the Editor

      In This Issue

      Bulletin Board

        Colloquium Held In Bourdeaux: "Technique and Society in the Work of Jacques Ellul"

        New Film on Ellul

        L’Association Jacques Ellul

      Advert for Narrative Theology After Auschwitz

    Forum: Ethical Relativism and Technological Civilisation

      Morality After Auschwitz by Peter Haas (Fortress, 1988)--

      Moral Relativity in the Technological Society

      Beyond Absolutism and Relativism: The Utopian Promise of Babel

        From an Ethic of Honor to an Ethic of Human Dignity, Rights and Liberation

    Book Reviews

      Narrative Theology after Auschwitz: From Alienation to Ethics

      The Ethical Challenge of Auschwitz and Hiroshima: Apocalypse or Utopia?

      The Ethical Challenge of Auschwitz and Hiroshima: Apocalpyse or Utopia?

      Advert for The Ethical Challenge of Auschwitz and Hiroshima Apocalypse or Utopia?

  Issue #13 Jul 1994 — In Memory of Jacques Ellul, 1912–1994

      In This Issue

      Editorial: Remembering Our Mentor and Friend, Jacques Ellul

      Bulletin Board

        L’Association Jacques Ellul

        Donations needed to Create and English Language Version of Film on Ellul

        Donations Needed to Purchase Ellul’s House

        New Members of the Editorial Board of the Ellul Forum

    Forum: A Sermon by Jacques Ellul

      The Truth Will Set You Free

      Jacques Ellul, 1912–1994

      Jacques Ellul, Courage, and the Christian Imagination

      Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: In Memory of Jacques Ellul

      My Journey with Ellul

      Merci, mon ami!

      Ellul’s Prophetic Witness to the Academic Community

      In Memorium for Jacques Ellul

      Anarchy and Holiness

        Anarchy and the Political Illusion

        Holiness vs Technology and the Sacred

      Jacques Ellul — The Little Giant

      An Address to "Master Jacques"

      Ellul’s Response to the Symposium in his Honor at the University of Bordeaux, November 1993

  Issue #14 Jan 1995 — Frederick Ferré on Science, Technology, and Religion

      From the Editor

      In This Issue

      The One Best Way of Technology?

    Forum Intro: Essay Review

      Hellfire and Lightning Rods: Liberating Science, Technology and Religion

      Advert for Hellfire and Lightning Rods

    Forum: Metaphors and Technology

      New Metaphors for Technology

        Technology as Mirror of Humanity

        Technology as Lens of Humanity

        Technology as Incarnate Knowledge

        Technology as Incarnate Values

        Technology as "All Too Human"

    Forum Response

      Response to Frederick Ferre’s "New Metaphors for Technology,"

        Language and Technology: A Reply to Robert S. Fortner

    Forum Dialogue

      A Response to Timothy Casey’s Review of: Technique, Discourse and Consciousness: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Jacques Ellul

      A Response to Darrell Fasching’s The Ethical Challenge of Auschwitz and Hiroshima: Apocalypse or Utopia?

      Response to Peter Haas

    Book Reviews

      Entretiens avec Jacques Ellul

      The American Hour: A Time of Reckoning and the Once and Future Role of Faith,

      Bulletin Board

        L’Association Jacques Ellul

        Meeting of the Jacques Ellul Association Held in Bordeaux

        Retrospective on Jacques Ellul at Annual SPT Meeting in April

  Issue #15 July 1995 — Women and Technology

      In This Issue

      About This Issue

      The Coming of The Coming of the Millennium

    Forum: Women and Technology

      Women and Technology: A(nother) Crisis of Representation

        How It All Started-Maybe

        Women and Public and Private Space

        Women and The "Science of Technology"

        The Struggle for New Stories about Technological Woman

        Stories Women Tell About Technology

      The Symbolic Function of 'Technique' As Ideogram In Ellul's Thought



        Otto and The Idea of The Holy

        Ellul’s Phenomenology of Technique

        Calling Technique’s Bluff

    Book Reviews

      Gender on the Line: Women, The Telephone, and Community Ufe

      Feminism Confronts Technology

  Issue #16 Jan 1996 — The Ethics of Jacques Ellul

      In This Issue

      About This Issue

      Bulletin Board

        Bordeaux Update

        Donations for the Ellul Publications Project

        Upcoming Programs on Jacques Ellul and Ian Barbour

        The Coming of the Millennium

    Forum: The Ethics of Jacques Ellul

      The Concept of "the Powers" as the Basis for Ellul's Fore-ethics

        The Setting of the Stage

      The Casuistry of Violence

      Forum Criticism to Politics: Jacques Ellul, Bernard Charbonneau and the Committee for the Defence of the Aquitaine Coast

        Citizens Against the Administration

      Ellul's Ethics and the Apocalyptic Practice of Law

        The Apocalyptic Practice of Law

    Book Reviews

      Sur Jacques Ellul, edited by Patrick Troude-Chastenet

      Thinking Through Technology: The Path between Engineering and Philosophy,

  Issue #17 Jul 1996 — Ian Barbour on Religion, Science, and Technology

      In This Issue

      About This Issue

      Bulletin Board

        The Ellul Publishing Project

      Advert for The Coming of the Millennium

    Forum: Ian Barbour on Religion Science & Technology

      The Gilford Lectures 1989-1991

      Technology and Theology

        Technology and Social Justice

      Norms and the Man: A Tribute to Ian Barbour

      Ellul and Barbour on Technology

        Their Depiction of Technology

        A Brief Systems Analysis

        Cautious conclusions

    Book Reviews

      In the Vineyard of the Text

      Resist the Powers -with Jacques Ellul,

  Issue #18 Jan 1997 — Lewis Mumford, Technological Critic

      In This Issue

      About This Issue

      Bulletin Board

        Ellul Publication Project

        New Ellul Bibliography

        Ellul/lllich Conference on Education and Technology

        New Courses from Schumacher College in England

    Forum: Lewis Mumford. Technological Critic

      Updating the Urban Prospect: Using Lewis Mumford to Critique Current Conditions

      Mumford and McLuhan: The Roots of Modern Media Analysis

      Sections from: The Coming of the Millennium: Good News for the Whole Human Race

      Advert for The Coming of the Millennium: Good News for the Whole Human Race

    Book Reviews

      Sources and Trajectories: Eight Early Articles by Jacques Ellul that Set the Stage

      The Coming of the Millenium: Good News for the Whole Human Race

  Issue #19 Jul 1997 — Technique and the Illusion of Utopia

      In This Issue

      About This Issue

      Bulletin Board

        Conference on "Education Technology" Held at Penn State

        The Coming of the Millennium

        Journal Honors the Work of Jacques Ellul

    Forum: Technique and the Illusion of Utopia

      Singapore: Technique and the Illusion of Utopia

        One Party, One Power, One Provider of Security


    Book Reviews

      Essay Review

  Issue #20 Jan 1998 — Tenth Anniversary Issue

      About the 10th Anniversary Issue

      In This Issue

      Ten Years of The Ellul forum

    Forum: From Ellul to “Picket Fences”

      The Residue of Culture: An Ellulian Dialogic Analysis of Religious Imagery in a Network Television Drama

        Mass Media in Jacques Ellul’s Technological Society

        Picket Fences

        The Dialogic Nature of “Cross Examination”


    10th Anniversary Forum: The Influence of Ellul

      Jacques Ellul’s Web

      My Encounter with Jacques Ellul

      Ellul and the Sentinel on the Wall

        Money as Mammon

        The Subversion of Christianity


        Doing Ethics as a Lutheran

        Meeting Ellul

      All That Counts

      Reflections on Ellul’s Influence

      Jacques Ellul Was the First

    Book Reviews

      Andrew John Goddard. “The Life and Thought of Jacques Ellul with Special Reference to His Writings on Law, Violence, the State, and Politics.”

      Jacques Ellul. Silences: Poemes.

  Issue #21 Jul 1998 — Thomas Merton and Modern Technological Civilization

      About This Issue

      In This Issue

    Book Review

      Manzone, Gianni. La liberta cristiana e le sue me-diazioni sociali nelpensiero di Jacques Ellul.

    Forum: Thomas Merton’s Critique

      Contemptus Mundi: Thomas Merton’s Critique of Modern Technological Civilization



        Technology and the Myth of Progress

        Failure of Organized Religion in an Organized Society


        The Role of the Contemplative Lite

        The Via Negativa




  Issue #22 Jan 1999 — Conversations with Jacques Ellul

      About This Issue

      In This Issue

      Advert: New from Scholars Press

    Forum: Jacques Ellul in Conversation with Patrick Troude-Chastenet

      Jaques Ellul: on Religion, Technology and Politics Converations with Patrick Troude-Chastenet

        From Chastenef s Introduction:

        From the Interviews:

    Book Reviews

      The Poetry of Jacques Ellul

  Issue #23 Jul 1999 — Jacques Ellul on Human Rights

      About This Issue

      In This Issue

      Advert: New from Scholars Press

    Forum: Ellul on Human Rights

      Human Rights and the Natural Flaw

      Law Rights and Technology

        The Common Theoretical Roots of Modern Liberal Rights Theory, Modern Technique & the Modem State.

        Rights as a Distninctive & Potentially Dangerous Feature of Modem Law

        Technique, the State and the Demand for Rights


      Comments on Goddard

      Natural Law or Covenant?

        Human Rights and The Natural Law

        Privacy and the Bible

        From Natural Law to Covenant

        Concluding Remarks

      Jaques Ellul and Human Rights — A Short Response to Sylvain Dujancount

  Issue #24 Jan 2000 — Academics on a Journey of Faith

      From the Editor

      About This Issue

      In This Issue

      Science and Faith - A Personal View

      Experiences of God’s Guidance

        Early Years

        Other Examples of Divine Guidance

        The love of my life.

        Beginning research in photovoltaics.


      Now a Convinced Theist

  Issue #25 Jul 2000 — Ellul in the Public Arena

      In This Issue

      About this Issue

      Jacques Ellul: 20th century prophet for the 21st century?

      The Trend Toward Virtued Christianity

      Jacques Ellul's Influence on the Cultural Critique of Thomas Merton

      About the Ellul Forum


        Manuscript Submissions


  Issue #26 Jan 2001 — Jacques Ellul and Bernard Charbonneau

      From the Editor

      About This Issue

      In This Issue

      About the Ellul Forum

        History & Purpose

        Manuscript Submissions

        Books & Reviews


      Jacques Ellul and Bernard Charbonneau

      Bernard Charbonneau and the Personalist Context in the 1930s and Beyond

      Patrick Chastenet Remembers Jacques Ellul

      Ellul Forum Index (1988- )

    Book Reviews

      The Labyrinth of Technology by Willem H. Vanderburg, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000

      Jacques Ellul: An Annotated Bibliography of Primary Works by Joyce Main Hanks

      International Jacques Ellul Society

        UES Activities

        UES Leadership

        Advisory Board

  Issue #27 Jul 2001 — Ellul and Social Theorists

      From the Editor

      In This Issue

      About the. Ellul forum

        History & Purpose

        Manuscript Submissions

        Books & Reviews


      Ellul versus Gramsci

      Include the Iconoclast: The Voice of Jacques Ellul in Contemporary Criticism

    Book Reviews

      Technology as Magic: The Triumph of the Irrational by Richard Stivers

      Technology and the Good Life?

  Issue #28 Jan 2002 — September 11, 2001

      In This Issue

      From the Editor

      About The Ellul Forum

        History & Purpose

        Manuscript Submissions

        Books & Reviews


        Back Issues

      On September 11th

      September 11th, 2001: On Violence, Divine and Human

      The Dysfunctions of a Global Technological Era

      Something Still Stands

      Bombs Bursting in Air

      Terrorisme international et communication politique dans les societes techniciennes

        1. Images du pouvoir et pouvoir des images

        II. La riposte: 1’Afghanistan bombarde au nom de la liberty

      International Jacques Ellul Society

  Issue #29 Jul 2002 — Rethinking Ellul's Theory on the Role of Technology

      In This Issue

      From the Editor

      About the Ellul Forum

        History & Purpose

        Manuscript Submissions

        Books & Reviews


      Religiosity and the Sacred in Postmodern America

      The Two Faces of Religiosity in Postmodern Society by Darrell J. Fasching

  Issue #30 Dec 2002 — Ellul and Utopia

      From the Editor

      In This Issue

      About the Ellul Forum

        History & Purpose

        Manuscript Submissions

        Books & Reviews


      Jacques Ellul and Technological Utopia by Myung Su Yang

        Whether Technology Is Autonomous or Not Matters

        Technology Becomes the Only Ideology

        Technology and Utopia

        The Technical Phenomenon Requires Changes in Religion

        Accept the World Fundamentally

        The Total Otherness of God

      Ellul and Technological Utopianism

        Myung Su Yang’s Challenge to Ellul

        Yang’s Account of Ellul’s Thesis

        Yang’s Utopian Critique of Ellul

        A Response to Myung Su Yang’s Critique

      Utopia and Mope: JLtResponse to Jacques Tdfrd and Mchnotoflical Utopia J. ‘Westey ‘Baper

      International Jacques Ellul Society

  Issue #31 Spring 2003 — Remembering Ivan Illich and Katharine Temple


      Information on The Editorial Board & More

      From the Editor

      Remembering Kassie

      Fascinated by the Instruments of Power

      Capitalist Starbuckers

      Jacques Ellul—the Word of God in a World of Technique

      En memoria de Ivan Illich, un anarquista entre nosotros by Carl Mitcham

      In Memoriam: Ivan Illich, 1926 — 2002

      A Note on the Death of Ivan Illich

      The Loss of World and Flesh

      Ivan Illich: In Memoriam

      “All Things Considered”

      The Death of Ivan Illich: A Personal Reflection

    In Review

      Harvard and the Unabomber: The Education of An American Terrorist

      Advert: The Jacques Ellul Special Collection at Wheaton College

      News & Notes

      How Big Is the Tent?

      Advert: International Jacques Ellul Society

        Joining the IJES

      Seven Valuable Ellul Resources

      Advert: Change of Address?

  Issue #32 Fall 2003 — Violence, Terrorism, and Technology


      Information on The Editorial Board & More

      From the Editor

      Ellul on Violence and Just War


      Advert: Change of Address?

      Beyond Cyberterrorism: Cybersecurity in Everyday Life by Dal Yong Jin


        Cyberterrorism in Cyberspace

        Cultural Aspects of Cyberterrorism

        Cybersecurity in Everyday Life



      Advert: You Can Help Build the Movement

      Surveillance After September 11: Ellul and Electronic Profiling by David Lyon

      Advert: Make Payments to IJES Electronically?

  Issue #33 Spring 2004 — Jacques Ellul Today


      Information on The Editorial Board & More

      Mirror of Another Ten Years

      Ellul Today

      Ellul aujourd’hui

      A Look at Ellul the Biblical Scholar

        Style in Ellul’s Commentaries

        Content in Ellul's Commentaries


      Regard sur Ellul bibliste

      New Metamorphoses of Bourgeois Society

      Advert: Make Payments to IJES Electronically?

      Nouvelles metamorphoses de la societe bourgeoise

      Advert: Change of Address?

    Re-Viewing Ellul

      Presence of the Kingdom

      News & Notes

      Advert: International Jacques Ellul Society

        Joining the IJES

      Cahiers Jacques Ellul


      Resources for Ellul Studies

  Issue #34 Fall 2004 — Jacques Ellul on Sports



      Information on The Editorial Board & More

      From the Editor

      Sport, Technique, & Society: Ellul on Sports

      Sport, technique et societe Le sport vu par Jacques Ellul

      Advert: Make Payments to IJES Electronically?

      Ellul & the Internet

    Re-Viewing Ellul

      The Technological Society

      Advert: Change of Address?

    In Review

      Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age by Bill McKibben.

      Perspectives on Our Age: Jacques Ellul Speaks on His Life and Work Edited by Willem H. Vanderburg

      Advert: Ellul Forum Back issues

      Advert: International Jacques Ellul Society

        Joining the IJES

      Political Illusions & Realities

      Resources for Ellul Studies

  Issue #35 Spring 2005 — René Girard and Jacques Ellul



      Information on The Editorial Board & More

        Editorial Board

      From the Editor

      Introducing Rene Girard

      Christianity, Violence, & Anarchy: Girard and Ellul

        Narrative and Idiom

      Advert: International Jacques Ellul Society

      A Conversation With Rene Girard


      The New Demons

    In Review

      Clever as Serpents: Business Ethics and Office Politics

      Islam et judeo-christianisme

      News & Notes

      Resources for Ellul Studies

  Issue #36 Fall 2005 — Ellul and the Bible


      Information on The Editorial Board & More

      From the Editor

      Jacques Ellul as a Reader of Scripture

      Ellul on Scripture and Idolatry

      If You Are the Son of God

      Ellul’s Apocalypse

      Is God Truly Just?

      Dieu et-il injuste?

      Advert: IJES E-mail & Payment Info

      Ellul’s God’s Politics

      Judging Ellul’s Jonah by Victor Shepherd

      In Review: Tresmontant, Vahanian, Mailot, & Chouraqui

      Advert: Change of Address?

      Gabriel Vahanian, Anonymous God

      Advert: International Jacques Ellul Society

      Andre Chouraqui, Les Dix Commandments Aujourd’hui: Dix Paroles pour reconcilier I’Homme avec I’humain (Paris: Robert Laffont, 2000).

      News & Notes

      Resources for Ellul Studies

  Issue #37 Spring 2006 — Propaganda and Ethics


      Information on The Editorial Board & More

      From the Editor

      The Ethics of Propaganda

      Problems in Ellul’s Treatment of Propaganda

      Semantics and Ethics of Propaganda

      Advert: Change of Address?

    Re-Viewing Ellul

      Histoire de la Propagande

      The Humiliation of the Word

    In Review

      Perspectives on Culture, Technology and Communication: The Media Ecology Tradition edited by Casey Man Kong Lum

      Digital Matters: The Theory and Culture of the Matrix

      Advert: International Jacques Ellul Society

      The Word of Jacques Ellul

      Resources for Ellul Studies

  Issue #38 Spring 2006 — The Politics of Jacques Ellul


      Information on The Editorial Board & More

      From the Editors

      The Political Thought of Jacques Ellul A 20th Century Man

        The Theological Explanation

        Terrorism and Politics

        “Necessary” Revolution & Ascetic Socialism

      Jacques Ellul on Politics & the State

    How Ellul Influenced My Political Thought and Behavior

      Mark Mayhle

      Randal Marlin

      Sharon Gallagher

      John Gwin

    Re-Viewing Ellul

      The Political Illusion by Jacques Ellul

      Autopsy of Revolution

      False Presence of the Kingdom

      Anarchy and Christianity

      Advert: International Jacques Ellul Society

      Advert: Change of Address?

      Suspicion, Accusation, Fragmentation by David W. Gill

      Resources for Ellul Studies

  Issue #39 Spring 2007 — The Ethics of Jacques Ellul


      Information on The Editorial Board & More

      From the Editors

      Jacques Ellul’s Ethics: Legacy and Promise


        Preserving and Extending Ellul’s ethical legacy

        A Deeper Understanding of Character and Virtue in Ethics

        A Better Understanding of Individual and Community in Ethics

      Jacques Ellul on Ethics & Morality

        Ethical Theories

        Lived Moralities

        Technological Morality

        Christian Ethics

      The Ethics of Holiness in an Age of Globalization: The Significance of Jacques Ellul’s Work for Comparative Religious Ethics

        Appendix: Characteristics of the Sacred and the Holy

    Re-Viewing Ellul

      To Will & To Do: An Ethical

      The Ethics of Freedom

    Book Notes & Reviews

      Ecologie et liberte: Bernard Charbonneau precurseur de l’ecologie politique.

      Darrel Fasching & Dell DeChant Comparative Religious Ethics: A Narrative Approach

      Advert: Change of Address?

      Ellul’s Technique, Wikinomics, & the Ethical Frontier

        Technique & Human Community

        Technique & Private Property

      News & Notes

      Advert: International Jacques Ellul Society

      Resources for Ellul Studies

  Issue #40 Spring 2007 — Jacques Ellul and Latin America


      Information on The Editorial Board & More

      From the Editor

      The Internet as a Media Extension: The Case of Mexico

      Jacques Ellul: Humankind in the Presence of Technology

      Silence and Mobile Media: An Ellulian Perspective

      A Honduran Mayor’s Experience of Ellul’s Political Illusion

      Selected Bibliography prepared by Joyce Hanks, University of Scranton

    Book Notes & Reviews

      La pensee marxiste & Les successeurs de Marx Reviewed by Joyce Hanks

      Living in the Labyrinth of Technology

      Religious No More: Building Communities of Grace & Freedom

      Beyond Paradise: Technology and the Kingdom of God

      News & Notes

      Advert: International Jacques Ellul Society

      Advert: Change of Address?

      Resources for Ellul Studies

  Issue #41 Spring 2008 — Islam and Religion


      Information on The Editorial Board & More

      From the Editor

      Religious Postmodernism In An Age of Global Conflict by Darrell J. Fasching

        Foreword from the author:


        Violence and the Sacred: Defending the Center

        ”Passing Over”: A Postmodern Spiritual Adventure for a New Age of Globalization

        Tolstoy, Jesus, and “Saint Buddha”: An Ancient Tale with a Thousand Faces

        The Children of Gandhi: An Experiment in Postmodern Global Ethics

        The Story of Babel: A Postmodern Tale for an Age of Global Conflict

      Jacques Ellul: The Influence of Islam On Christianity

        Religion, Revelation, & Law

        Ecclesiastical and Political Authority

        Holy War



    Book Notes & Reviews

      Le Destin d’Israel: Correspondances avec Jules Isaac, Jacques Ellul, Jacques Maritain et Marc Chagall

      The Reception of Jacques Ellul's Critique of Technology: An Annotated Bibliography

      Hope in the Thought of Jacques Ellul

      Shades of Loneliness: Pathologies of a Technological Society

      News & Notes

      Advert: International Jacques Ellul Society

  Issue #42 Fall 2008 — Practical Politics


      Information on The Editorial Board & More

      From the Editor

      Wild & Untamed

      Prophets in Politics

      The Political Path & the Road to God

      Beneath the Froth: Witnessing to the Powers by Chuck Fager

      What Divides Us & What Unites Us

      Advert: Change of Address?

      Desacralize & Act, Modestly

      Teaching, Thinking, & Friendship

      Politics as Power over Others

      Affecting Culture, or Not

      Libertarian with Soul & Conscience

      Moderation amidst Polarization

      Live, Talk, Work, Play

      Advert: Make Payments to IJES Electronically?

    Book Notes & Reviews

      Secularization & Cultural Criticism: Religion, Nation, & Modernity

      Electing Not to Vote: Christian Reflections on Reasons for Not Voting

      Ellul on Politics

      News & Notes

      Advert: Call for Papers

      Advert: International Jacques Ellul Society

      Resources for Ellul Studies

  Issue #43 Spring 2009 — Ellul in Scandinavia


      Information on The Editorial Board & More


      Cybergnosticism Triumphant?

        The Brave New World of Virtual Entertainment

        From the Global Village to Discarnate Man

        Discarnate Man, La Technique, and Extreme Science—Technocalypse Now!

        Cyberspace—A Gnostic Project?

        Referenced Literature

      The Survival of Culture: “The Kindred Points of Heaven and Home”


        Heaven and Home

        The Fact of Natality

        Particular cultures - world culture

        The Lures of Nowhere

        The Technological Society

        The Rebirth of Community

        Works Cited

      The Islamization of the West

      Advert: Change of Address?

    Book Notes & Reviews

      Green Politics Is Utopian by Paul Gilk

      Advert: Make Payments to IJES Electronically?

      News & Notes

      Advert: International Jacques Ellul Society

      Resources for Ellul Studies

  Issue #44 Fall 2009 — Ellul, Capitalism, and the Workplace


      Information on The Editorial Board & More

      From the Guest Editor

      Capitalism in the Thought of Jacques Ellul: Eight Theses

      Mea Culpa

      Market Capitalism: The Religion of the Market & its Challenge to the Church

        The myth of the market and doctrines of its transcendence

        Doctrines of the market: cosmology, anthropology, and salvation

        Market practices and institutions: advertising as evangelism and malls as sacred spaces

        A challenge to the church

      The Triumph of the Image Over Reasoning

        The triumph of the image

        Work in the new paradigm

        Reasoning and the image

      Advert: Change of Address?

    Book Review

      From Faith to Fun: the Secularization of Humor by Russell Heddendorf

      Money and Power

      Advert: International Jacques Ellul Society

      Advert: Make Payments to IJES Electronically?

      Resources for Ellul Studies

  Issue #45 Spring 2012 — Ellul in the Undergraduate Classroom


      Information on The Editorial Board & More

      From the Editor

      Encountering Jacques Ellul on His Own Terms


        Course Aims & Organization

        Getting Started



      Ellul & Gojira

        Technique of Popular Cinema

        Ellul and Gojira



      Advert: Change of Address?

      Dialoguing Ellul & Vahanian

      Putting Technology in Place

      Economy & Ecclesia

      A True Solidarity: Christian Community in the Thought of Jacques Ellul

      Student Reflections on Ellul

      Advancing the Dialectic

      The Jacques Ellul Special Collection at Wheaton College by David Malone

    Book Review

      Death & Life in America:

        Book Notes

      Advert: International Jacques Ellul Society

      Advert: Make Payments to IJES Electronically?

      Resources for Ellul Studies

  Issue #46 Fall 2012 — Technique, Ellul, and the Food Industry


      Information on The Editorial Board & More

      From the Editor

      Our Food System Equation


        I. Introduction

        II. Does Technology Provide Freedom for the Farmer?

        III. Violation of the Sacredness of Land through the Distraction of Technology

        IV. An Alternative Business Model for Farmers

        V. Conclusion

      Jacques Ellul & Wendell Berry on an Agrarian Resistance by Matthew Regier

      Ellul & Medicine

      Advert: Change of Address?

    Book Review

      The Omnivore’s Dilemma & In Defense of Food Reviewed by Mark D. Baker

      Advert: Make Payments to IJES Electronically?

      Advert: International Jacques Ellul Society

      Resources for Ellul Studies

  Issue #47 Spring 2011 — Pop Culture, Jacques Ellul, and Thomas Merton


      Information on The Editorial Board & More

      From the Editor

      The Emerging Field of Religion and Popular Culture

      Pop Culture’s “New Demons” Obama, the Sacred, and Civil Religion"

        Bellah’s Civil Religion

        Ellul’s Political Religion

        Obama and Pop Culture

        Technology in Civil Religion


      Snap, Crackle, Pop Christianity: Discerning the Church in the Age of Entertainment by Stephanie Bennett

        Popular Culture and the Church



      Illusions of Freedom: Thomas Merton and Jacques Ellul on Propaganda by Jeffrey Shaw

        Ellul’s La Technique

        Merton’s “Mass Man”

        Kierkegaard as Antecedent


    Book Notes

      Jacques Ellul On Freedom, Love, and Power

      Advert: Change of Address?

      Advert: Call for Papers

      Advert: International Jacques Ellul Society

  Issue #48 Fall 2011 — Anarchism and Jacques Ellul


      Information on The Editorial Board & More

      From the Editor

      Yahweh is Still King: Engaging 1 Samuel 8 and Jacques Ellul by Thomas Bridges

        Introduction: Ellul’s Anti-Monarchic Deuteronomist

        The Kingship of Yahweh

        1 Samuel 8: The Crisis of Yahweh’s Kingship

        Some Further Issues with Kingship in the Deuteronomistic History

        Some Conclusions

      ”Come Out, My People!“ Rethinking the Bible’s Ambivalence About Civilization

      Just Policing: An Ellulian Critique

      Going Offline

    In Review

      Christian Anarchism: A Political Commentary on the Gospel


        New IJES E-mail List

        International Jacques Ellul Society

        Prophet in the Technological Wilderness

  Issue #49 Spring 2012 — Art, Technique, and Meaning in Jacques Ellul


      Information on The Editorial Board & More

      From the Editor

      Looking and Seeing: The Play of Image and Art


        The Image and the Celebrity

        The Reproducibility of Art; the Art of Reproducibility

      Technique and the Collapse of Symbolic Thought

    In Review

      Our War on Ourselves: Rethinking Science, Technology, and Economic Growth


        Postal Address Changes

        New IJES E-mail List

        International Jacques Ellul Society

        Prophet in the Technological Wilderness

  Issue #50 Fall 2012


      Information on The Editorial Board & More

      From the Editor

      Ellul Challenges & Illuminates

      Encountering Ellul

      Reading & Re-reading Ellul

      My Encounters with Jacques Ellul

      Ellul from 1973 to the Future

      Jacques Ellul on the Campus

      From Jacques Ellul to Global Ethics

      Ellul as a Model of Christian Scholarship

      The Best Kind of Mentor

      Ellul in Text & Textbook

      Jacques Ellul Today

      My First Encounter with Ellul

      Ellul on Truth & Propaganda

      Connecting With Ellul: An Episodic Engagement

      From Ellul to Charbonneau

      Ellul’s Books and Mine

      Our Civilization’s Wager on Technique

      Gabriel Vahanian: 1927-2012

      Advert: International Jacques Ellul Society

      IJES Ellul Forum Transition Time

      Resources for Ellul Studies

  Issue #51 Mar 2013

      The Sense of Incarnation in Ellul and Charbonneau

        I. Two Models of Perfection.

        II. Technique and Incarnation in Jacques Ellul.

        III. Freedom and Incarnation in Bernard Charbonneau

      The Problem of Health Care as Technique

        The Bronze Serpent

        The Problem of Risk as Technique

      Generations Ellul: Soixante heritiers de la pensee de Jacques Ellul by Frederic Rognon

      Generations Ellul: Soixante heritiers de la pensee de Jacques Ellul by Frederic Rognon

      Technology and the Further Humiliation of the Word

  Issue #52 Jul 2013

      The Enduring Importance of Jacques Ellul for Business Ethics

      On the Lookout for the Unexpected: Ellul as Combative Contemplative by Sue Fisher Wentworth




  Issue #53 Nov 2013

      The Lure of Technic in Current “Leadership” Fascinations

      Theology and Economics: The Hermeneutical Case of Calvin Today by Roelf Haan

      Jacques Ellul: L’esperance d’abord

      21st Century Propaganda: Thoughts from an Ellulian Perspective




      A Faith Embracing All Creatures: Addressing Commonly Asked Questions about Christian Care for Animals.

      Understanding Jacques Ellul

  Issue #54 Apr 2014

      The Sacred, the Secular and the Holy:

      Silences: Jacques Ellul’s Lost Book

      Theologie et Technique: Pour une ethique de la non-puissance

      Technique, Language and the Divided Brain: Can recent insights from neuropsychology give new life to Jacques Ellul’s technology criticism?

        Attentive to the body


      An Unjust God? A Christian Theology of Israel in Light of Romans 9–11

  Issue #55 Sep 2014

      Sham Universe: Field Notes on the Disappearance of Reality in a World of Hallucinations by Doug Hill

      A Being On Facebook but not Of Facebook: Using New Social Media Technologies to Promote the Virtues of Jacques Ellul

      Notes on Recent Books by and about Jacques Ellul

        Jeffrey M. Shaw, Illusions of Freedom: Thomas Merton & Jacques Ellul on Technology and the Human Condition

  Issue #56 2015

      On Terrorism, Violence, and War: Looking Back at 9/11 and Its Aftermath

      The Prophet of Cuernavaca: Ivan Illich and the Crisis of the West

      Ellul, Machiavelli and Autonomous Technique

      Digital Vertigo: How Today’s Online Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting Us

  Issue #57 June 2016

      On Terrorism, Violence and War: Looking Back at 9/11 and its Aftermath

        Symbols of Power and the Power of Symbols

      On the Symbol in the Technical Environment: Some Reflections




      Security, Technology and Global Politics: Thinking With Virilio

      Dialectical Theology and Jacques Ellul: An Introductory Exposition

      Will the Gospel Survive? Proclamation and Faith in the Technical Milieu

  Issue #58 Fall 2016

      “Bringing Ellul to the City Council: A Council Member Reflects on How Ellul Has Guided His Work”

    Book Reviews

      The Empire of Non-Sense: Art in the Technological Society

      Liberalism and the State in French and Canadian Technocritical Discourses

      Illusions of Freedom: Thomas Merton and Jacques Ellul on Technology and the Human Condition

  Issue #59 Spring 2017



      Biblical Positions on Medicine

      Positions bibliques sur la medecine


      “Biblical Positions on Medicine” in Theological Perspective






        About the Author

      “Positions bibliques sur la medecine”: Mise en perspective theologique






        A propos de l’auteur


      Sin as Addiction in Our “Brave New World”

      Review of Andre Vitalis, The Uncertain Digital Revolution (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2016), 118pp.

  Issue #60 Fall 2017



      Jacques Ellul’s Dialectical Theology: Embracing Contradictions about the Kingdom in the New Testament

      Social Propaganda and Trademarks

      Review of Doug Hill, NotSo Fast: Thinking Twice About Technology (University of Georgia Press, 2016) 221 pp.

      Jacques Ellul on Violence, Resistance, and War

      Pursuing the Spiritual Roots of Protest: Merton, Berrigan, Yoder, and Muste at the Gethsemani Abbey Peacemakers Retreat


      Information on The Editorial Board & More

      From the Editor

  Issue #61 Spring 2018

      Jacques Ellul as a Reader of Scripture

      Ellul on Scripture and Idolatry

      If You Are the Son of God

      Ellul’s Apocalypse

      Is God Truly Just?

      Dieu et-il injuste?

      Advert: IJES E-mail & Payment Info

      Ellul’s God’s Politics

      Judging Ellul’s Jonah by Victor Shepherd

    In Review: Tresmontant, Vahanian, Mailot, & Chouraqui

      Claude Tresmontant, The Hebrew Christ: Language in the Age of the Gospels

      Advert: Change of Address?

      Gabriel Vahanian, Anonymous God (Aurora, Colorado: The Davies Group, 2001)

      Advert: International Jacques Ellul Society

      A Review of Les Dix Commandments Aujourd’hui & Le Decalogue

      News & Notes

      Resources for Ellul Studies

  Issue #62 Fall 2018


      Editor’s Letter

      Jacques Ellul’s Apocalypse in Poetry and Exegesis


      Ellul’s City in Scripture and Poetry

      Ellul’s City in Poetry

        Poem 1 - Lights over the City

        Poem 2 - Streets

        Poem 3

        Poem 4


      The “Analogy of Faith”: What Does It Mean? Why, and What For?

        Critique of Exegesis

        The Core Principles of the Ellulian Approach to the Bible

        “The Analogy of Faith”

      Examples of Applying the Method of the Analogy of Faith

        Qoheleth / Ecclesiastes

        The Parable of the Wedding Party

        The Parable of the Judgment

        Men and Women


      « L’analogie de la foi »: qu’est-ce que cela signifie? Pourquoi et en vue de quoi?

        Critique de I’exegese

        Les grands principes de l’approche ellulienne de la Bible

        « L’analogie de la foi »

        Exemples d’application de la methode d’analogie de la foi


        La parabole des Noces

        La parabole du Jugement

        Hommes et femmes


      Jacques Ellul: From Technique to the Technological System

        Cerezuelle, Daniel. “Jacques Ellul: From Technique to the Technological System.”

      Jacques Ellul: de la Technique au Systeme technicien

      The Crisis of Modernity by Augusto Del Noce


      Technology and the Virtues by Shannon Vallor

      About the Contributors

      About the International Jacques Ellul Society

  Issue #63 Spring 2019


      Editor’s Letter

      God’s Time: Kierkegaard, Qohelet, and Ellul’s Reading of Ecclesiastes

        Ellul’s Relationship to Ecclesiastes

        The Present Time in Ellul’s Theology

        Reading Qohelet through Kierkegaard

        Re-Reading Kierkegaard through Qohelet God’s Time

        God’s Present Time

      Efficiency and Availability: Jacques Ellul and Albert Borgmann on the Nature of Technology

        The Nature of Technology

        The Consequences of Technology

        The Response to the Technological Situation

      Celui dans lequel je mets tout mon creur

      The One in Which I Put All My Heart

      Political Illusion and Reality edited by David W. Gill and David Lovekin

      Our Battle for the Human Spirit

      The Burnout Society by Byung-Chul Han

      About the Contributors

      About the International Jacques Ellul Society

  Issue #64 Fall 2019

      Editorial Board


      Editor’s Letter

      Nature and Scripture in Bernard Charbonneau’s The Green Light

        Carl Amery’s Ecological Challenge to Christianity: Contrasting Responses of Ellul and Charbonneau

        Charbonneau’s Ambivalent Reading of Christian Scripture

        Disentangling Christianity and Progress

      Jacques Ellul and Exodus: A Summary and Review

        Ellul on Exodus

        The Centrality of Exodus in Scripture

        God as Liberator

        The Historicity of the Exodus

        Threefold Exodus

        Freedom and Law

        Bearing God’s Revelation

        Exodus as the Location of Christian Life

        Exodus and Freedom as Not Happiness

        The Exodus Temptation of Jesus and the Self-Limitation of Freedom

        Evaluation of the Exodus Theme in Ellul

        Liberation Theology?


      Le plus dur des devoirs: La liberte chez Bernard Charbonneau et Jacques Ellul

        Une valeur commune: la liberte

        La liberte est dans l’acte

        Il n’y a de liberte que par l’acte de I’individu

        Echapper a l’angoisse de la liberte

        La tension entre puissance et liberte

        Esprit de puissance ou esprit de liberte?

      The Hardest Duty: Freedom in the Thought of Bernard Charbonneau and Jacques Ellul

        Freedom: A Value in Common

        Freedom Lies in the Act

        There Is No Freedom but through an Individual’s Act

        Escaping the Dread of Freedom

        The Tension between Power and Freedom

        Spirit of Power or Spirit of Freedom?

      Anarchie et christianisme par Jacques Ellul

      Kierkegaard's Theological Sociology by Paul Tyson

      The Green Light by Bernard Charbonneau

      About the Contributors

      About the International Jacques Ellul Society

  Issue #65 Spring 2020


      Advert: Call for Papers

      How I Discovered Hope

      The Dialogue of Sign and Presence

        Finding the Article

        The Article’s Context

        The Article’s Content


        Concluding Remarks

      The Dialogue of Sign and Presence - Text

      The Dialogue of Sign and Presence - Interpretive Summary of the Argument

      Information as a Problem for Human Freedom: Jacques Ellul’s Contribution to Library Science

        Propaganda Uses (True) Information

        Information Is Necessary to Propaganda

        In Turn, Information Renders Propaganda Necessary

        Propaganda Ultimately Triumphs Over Information



        Addendum: Fatalism and Freedom

      Media Ethics and Global Justice in the Digital Age by Clifford G. Christians

      Jacques Ellul and Bernard Charbonneau in French Surveys of the Degrowth Movement

      About the Contributors

      About the International Jacques Ellul Society

  Issue #66 Fall 2020

      Editor’s Letter

      Real Presence





      Bernard Charbonneau et le christianisme

        I. Les references de Bernard Charbonneau a la Bible et a la tradition chretienne

        La critique charbonnienne du christianisme

        L’eloge charbonnien du christianisme

        La these de l’ambivalence du christianisme dans ses relations a la nature

        Le dialogue avec Jacques Ellul au sujet du christianisme


      Bernard Charbonneau and Christianity

        I. Bernard Charbonneau’s References to the Bible and tof Christian Tradition

        Charbonneau’s Critique of Christianity

        Charbonneau’s Praise for Christianity

        The Thesis of Christianity’s Ambivalence in Relation to Nature

        The Dialogue with Jacques Ellul about Christianity


      Bernard Charbonneau a Foi & Vie: Un theologien agnostique chez les protestants

        Rien qu’un homme, qui parle a son prochain

        « Pour connaftre la liberte il faut l’avoir perdue »


      Bernard Charbonneau at Foi & Vie: An Agnostic Theologian among Protestants

        Just a Man, Talking to His Neighbor

        “To Know Freedom, One Must Have Lost It”


    Book Reviews

      Review of Jacques Ellul: A Companion to His Major Works

      Review of Introduction a Jacques Ellul

      About the Contributors

      About the International Jacques Ellul Society

  Issue #67 Spring 2021 --(Guest edited by Richard Stivers and J.M. van der Laan)

      Guest Editors’ Letter

      The Green Revolution Response to Modern Technology: The Catholic Worker Farms and Jacques Ellul

        The Catholic Worker’s Green Revolution

        The Re-Emergence of the Catholic Worker Farm in the Driftless Region


      Nothing Sacred: The Virtual Classroom in the Age of Zoom

      Christians and the Perils of Technology: Helpful Insights from Neil Postman

        “Technopoly” and the Question of “What Is Technology for?”

        Technology, Narrative, and Philosophes to the Rescue

        Technology, Revelation, and the (Truly) Loving Resistance Fighter

      A Christian Approach to Technology

        Technology as Idol

        A Christian Response

      Concerning a Christian Response to Technology

      Book Reviews

      About the Contributors

      About the International Jacques Ellul Society

  Issue #68 Fall 2021


      From Tech Critique to Ways of Living

        The Rise of Technopoly

        “Life versus the Machine” in the West

        The Danger of “Human Resources”

        The Way Beyond Heidegger

        “They Will Sit Collecting Dust”


        Mocking the Proud Spirit

      The Question Concerning China

        The Needham Project

        Heidegger’s Destabilization

        Misprisioned China

        Greatness and Decline in the West

        The Question Concerning Technology in China


      For a Technodiversity in the Anthropocene

        On the Concept of Technics

        On the Antinomy of the Universality of Technology

        Technodiversity in the Anthropocene

      Avons-nous vraiment besoin d'une cosmotechnique?

        Qu’est-ce que la cosmotechnique

        Changeons d’isme !

        Les risques de la recherche de I’unite et d’un ordre global

        Changer d’orientation: une question de metaphysique ou de caractere?

      Compte rendu de Ce Dieu injuste...? Theologie chretienne pour le peuple d’Israel

      Review of An Unjust God? A Christian Theology of Israel in Light of Romans 9-11

      Review of Wisdom from Babylon: Leadership for the Church in a Secular Age

      Review of Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life

      About the Contributors

      About the International Jacques Ellul Society

        Back Cover

Issue #1 Fall 1988 — Debut Issue

Ellul Studies

A Forum for Scholarship on Theology and Technology
Department of Religious Studies,
University of South Florida, Tampa, Fl 33620


Call For Manuscripts

Paper Exchange

Volunteers Needed


Media Development Devotes Issue to Ellul

Freedom and Universal Salvation: Ellul and Origen

Forthcoming Ellul Publications by Gary Lee

Forum: The Ethical Importance of Universal Salvation by Darrell J. Fasching

A Visit with Jacques Ellul by Marva Dawn

. 2nd Ellul AAR Consultation by Dan Clendenin

Ellul and Propaganda Review


Dan Clendenin’s Theological Method in Jacques Ellul by Marva Dawn

The deadline for submissions for the next issue is October 15,1988. See instructions on the last inside page for details.


Welcome to the inaugural issue of The Ellul Studies Bulletin. Thanks to the organizational work of Dan Clendenin, Ellul scholars from around the country (and even beyond its borders) met for the first time at the American Academy of Religion convention in Boston last December. At that meeting I indicated that I would be willing to edit a newsletter which could serve as a communications link among us. This letter fulfills that commitment.

Jacques Ellul’s "contribution to contemporary theology is monumental... a comprehensive tour de force.” This conclusion from my book, The Thought of Jacques Ellul (Mellen Press, 1981), has been criticized as perhaps too strong a claim. However I remain unrepentant As the Epilogue (177ff) in which this statement appeared made clear, his work is monumental not because he is right in every respect but because of its unique focus and comprehensiveness. The depth and breadth of his work "culminates in a thorough sociological analysis of the technological society and its religiosity in such a way as to directly lay bare the ethical and theological issues surrounding human freedom and the future in our technological civilization."

Ellul has helped theologians to see that technology is not just one more thing to think about but rather has replaced "nature" as the new all-encompassing context in which theology is done. "Perhaps the most important contribution of Jacques Ellul to the future agenda of theology is not the answers he offers to the questions he raises (although his answers are not insignificant, he would not think of them assoZuftons) but the questions themselves." Through his sociological analysis of the sacralization of technology placed in dialectical confrontation with the Biblical witness to the Holy, Ellul has taught us how to raise the question of technology in such a way as to be appropriated for theological reflection and ethical consideration." He has taught us how to think critically, creatively and constructively about technology in a way no one else has managed to do. Barth may be his equal, indeed his mentor, in theology. Lewis Mumford may approach his status as a sociological and historical critic of technology, but no one has brought these two disciplines (theology and sociology) together in such a way as to define the theological and ethical agenda as Ellul has. "Thus even where Ellul may be thought in error by some, I believe he will be seen as having advanced our understanding of the issues, for his bold formulations provoke further investigation, further dialogue, further insight. He is a man who has done his homework to our benefit." One may not agree with Ellul but there is no way to responsibly do theology in our technological civilization without taking his work into account. There is no way around him, only through him. That is what makes his work monumental.

It is appropriate therefore that this publication bear Ellul’s name. It is my hope that The Ellul Studies Bulletin will live up to Ellul’s dialectical and dialogical standards. Nothing would be more embarrassing and disappointing to Ellul than to have this Bulletin be the vehicle for true disciples, Ellul groupies, or a cult of Jacques Ellul. The whole thrust of Ellul’s theological ethics has been to force Christians to think for themselves and invent their own responses. Although the Bulletin will review and discuss Ellul’s work, it should not be our purpose to turn Ellul’s scholarship into a body of sacred literature to be endlessly dissected. The appropriate tribute of the Bulletin to Ellul’s work will be to carry forward its spirit, its agenda for the critical analysis of our technological civilization. Ellul invites us to think new thoughts and enact new deeds. The Bulletin should be a vehicle for carrying out that challenge, hence the tag line of the Bulletin, "A Forum for Scholarship on Theology and Technology”

I debated about what to call this publication. At first I thought perhaps The Ellul Studies Newsletter. But I wanted it to be something more than a newsletter and yet something less than a journal. I hope the Bulletin will create such a niche for itself. It should be a vehicle for the exchange of information on conferences, publications, etc. But I also hope that it will be a forum for the exchange of ideas. I would like to invite you to submit short position papers (up to ten double spaced pages) for open discussion. Responses would be invited and printed in the next issue. Sometimes when weare working on ideas but are not quite ready to put them in final form it would be helpfill to be able to send up a trial balloon and see how it flies. The Forum, I hope, will serve that purpose.

The Ellul Studies Bulletin will be published twice a year in late Spring and again in late Ball (about a month before the AAR meeting). This first issue is free and I encourage you to duplicate it and send it to interested friends or send me their addresses and I will put them on the mailing list. If you decide you wish to receive the Bulletin you will need to fill out the subscription form on the last page of this issue and mail it in with your check. Within the United States subscriptions are $4.00 per year. Outside the U.S. subscriptions are $6.00. These rates will have to be reviewed after our first year of operation but I want to keep the cost as low as possible.

Finally, this is an experimental publication. If it is to work everyone who subscribes needs to participate by sending position papers for the Forum, annotated bibliographic information on books or articles you have published, reviews of relevant books you have read, announcements of conferences and calls for papers on relevant topics, etc. The Bulletin should function as a communications network. If you don’t send me submissions it is an indication that there is no need for the network. So let the experiment begin.

Darrell J. Fasching, Editor

Nota Bene

The deadline for submissions for the next issue is October 15, 1988. See instructions on the last inside page for details.

Call for Manuscripts

Peter Lang Publishing (New York/Bem) is searching for bold and creative manuscripts for their new monograph series on Religion, Ethics and Social Policy edited by Darrell Fasching. Scholars from the Humanities and Social Sciences are invited to submit book-length manuscripts which deal with the shaping of social policy in a religiously and culturally pluralistic world. We are especially interested in creative approaches to the problems of ethical and cultural relativism in a world divided by ideological conflicts. Manuscripts which utilize the work of Jacques Ellul would be most welcome as well as manuscripts taking other approaches. A two page brief on the series is available. For more information, or to submit a manuscript, contact the series editor, Darrell J. Fasching, Cooper Hall 317, University of South Florida, Thmpa, Florida 33620. Phone (813) 974-2221 or residence (813) 963-2968.

Fasching is also Associate Editor for U.S.E Monographs in Religion and Public Policy which accepts manuscripts on religion and public policy which are too long for journals but too short for a book. If you care to submit a manuscript in that category you may also send that to the above address. Be sure to indicate the monograph series to which you wish to submit your manuscript.

Paper Exchange

One service the Bulletin might be able to perform is providing a bulletin board for the exchange of papers delivered at academic conferences. If you have papers you have delivered on Ellul or on the general topic of theology and technology and are willing to make them available, send the title with a brief annotation and your name and address, and indicate whether there is a fee per copy. These will be listed on the bulletin board and anyone interested can write you for a copy.

Volunteers Needed

If you would be interested in assisting in the production of the Ellul Studies Bulletin please contact Darrell Fasching, CPR 317, University of Soutrh Florida, Tampa, Fl 33620. Undoubtedly we will need a book review editor, a bibliographic editor, etc. It is essential that you have access to a computer to prepare copy.

2nd Ellul Consultation Scheduled for November AAR

by Dan Clendenin

ThcAmerican Academy of Religion will sponsor the second Consultation on Jacques Ellul at its annual meeting in Chicago this November.

Last year’s meeting attracted over 40 participants. Three papers were presented.

Marva J. Dawn, The Importance of the Concept of the "Powers" in Jacques Ellul's Work

Darrell J. Fasching, The Dialectic of Apocalypse and Utopia in the Theological Ethics of Jacques Ellul

David Lovekin, Jacques Ellul and his Dialectical Understanding

The respondents for the first session were: David W. Gill, Joyce Main Hanks and Charles Mabee.

This year we will have three papers and a single respondent for our 2 1/2 hour session:

Clifford G. Christians: Ellul’s Sociology

Joyce M. Hanks, The Kingdom in Ellul’s Thought

David W. Gill The Dialectical Relationship Between Ellul’s Theology and Sociology

Gary Lee, Respondent

For those interested, the pertinent information for the second consultation is as follows:

AAR Annual Meeting

November 19-22,1988

Chicago Hilton and "towers


For further information, you can contact the chairperson of the consultation:

Daniel B. Clendenin

William Tyndale College 35700 West 12 Mile Rd.

Farmington Hills, MI 48018


Book Reviews

Theological Method in Jacques Ellul

by Daniel B. Clendenin (Lan-hanm, MD: University Press of America, 1987). pp. xvii + 145

Reviewed by Marva Dawn, Vancouver, Washington

(Marva is a Ph.D candidate in Christian Ethics at the University of Notre Dame and a founder of Christians Equipped for Ministry in Vancouver.)

Dan Clendenin’s well-researched and balanced study develops the thesis that "Ellul’s theological method revolves around one key theme or kernel idea, the dialectical interplay between freedom and necessity,.. a gold thread ... which serves as a sort of hermeneutical key to his thinking" (xi). This revised doctoral dissertation contributes immensely to the possibility that more scholars and lay readers can properly understand Jacques Ellul and let his thinking stimulate, rather than alienate, their own. Since most of us reading this publication believe that Ellul’s prophetic voice needs to be heard in our world, we can all be grateful that Dan Clendenin has provided such a useful tool for listening to him appropriately.

Clendenin’s own method is illustrated best by three concentric circles, the largest of which describes four methodological interpretations of Ellul: as theological positivist, existentialist, prophet, and dialectician. His second chapter analyzes the more narrow circle of Ellul’s dialectical method, which "operates as a description of reality [the phenomenological], an epistemological orientation to understand this reality, and as a Biblical-theological framework by which to read the Bible and craft a peculiarly Christian style of life [existential]" (xvi). Then, chapters three and four explicate Ellul’s central dialectic between freedom and necessity, the innermost circle and the "controlling idea in all of Ellul’s work" (59).

The final chapter analyzes four weaknesses and three strengths of Ellul’s method. Clendenin’s "internal" criticisms are the best part of the book, for he aptly demonstrates that Ellul’s works contain definite non-dialectical tendencies which are inconsistent with his avowed method (129). First of all, Ellul’s unclear or caustic use of language often invites antagonism rather than dialogue. Secondly, his theme that freedom is not just a virtue of the Christian life, but rather its sine qua non, is undeniably reductionistic. Ellul is right to emphasize this aspect because of the social circumstances of contemporary Christianity, but his overstatement denies the dialectical interplay of other factors in discipleship. Most helpful of Clendenin’s critiques is his analysis of the inconsistency of Ellul’s universalism in its selective reading of Biblical texts, its negation of human free will, and its negation of the individual (pp 135-141).

I disagree, however, with Qendenin’s third alleged weakness in Ellul’s; method - viz., his conception of "power as the enemy of God." Utilizing die Biblical notion of exousiai, Ellul has maintained a dialectical tension in his understanding of power, though his latest work, The Subversion of Christianity, contradicts some of his earlier statements about the nature of "the Powers." Furthermore, Clendenin himself must be criticized for his own overstatement that "Ellul never comes close to incorporating the use of power into his dialectic" [134, emphasis mine), and he himself is inconsistent when he asks Ellul to give "clear guidelines" for "nonpower use," since a few pages later he cites as a first strength in Ellul’s method his deliberate refusal to provide solutions in order to obligate readers to think beyond him (133 and 142). His claim that Ellul "gives us no help here with his rather unrealistic picture" (133) overlooks the prophetic nature of Ellul’s language, designed to raise awareness of the subtlety of the demonic aspects of power.

Clendenin also cites as strengths that Ellul effectively combines theology from above (revelation) and below (practical concern for the world) and that his theology truly offers hope and freedom to the person on the street. That, of course, is a main reason why all of us care so much about his work.

Freeom and Universal Salvation: Ellul and Origen

In some ways no two theologians in the history of Christianity could be farther apart than Jacques Ellul and Origen, the Neo-Platonic theologian from the 3rd century. If one were to classify them using H. Richard Niebuhr’s five types of Christ and culture relationships, Origen would probably fall under the Christ of Culture type and Ellul would stand probably be found somewhere between Christ Against Culture and Christ and Culture in Paradox. In many ways Tfertul-lian rather than Origen would seem to be the theologian who might have the most in common with Ellul. And yet on two themes very much at the heart of Ellul’s thought, freedom and universal salvation, it is in fact Origen who is his kindred spirit. Although its hard to believe, Origen is even more radical on these two themes. On universal salvation it seems that he held that all creatures would eventually be saved, even the devil, and on freedom he thought that because God gave us the capacity to be free, even after universal salvation is achieved, the fall could happen again, should some creature choose to rebel against God. Ellul would not go quite that far on either count but he certainly goes further than most theologians in the Christian tradition have. In the Forum column for this issue a case is made for the ethical importance of universal salvation. But to refresh our minds on Ellul’s stand the following excerpt from Dan Clendenin’s recent interview with Ellul is quoted from Media Development (2/1988, p. 29).


Clendenin: You have been a strong advocate of universal salvation, which you seem to support by at least five ideas: distinction between judgment-condemnation; between salvationfreedom; priority and triumph of God’s love (Jonah’s hard lesson); your robust/high Christology; scriptural references to perdition - ‘God’s pedagogy* - only of heuristic value.

Ellul: Exactly. This is a part of Karl Barth. Barth liked very much to make a joke. One day he explained the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian in this way: everyone has received a sealed letter from God, but a Christian is the one who has opened it and read it. That’s the way it is in reality. Every person is loved by God, but Christians are the only ones who know it

Clendenin: And experience the joy, hope and freedom.

Ellul: Yes, and that changes completely one’s perspective on mission. Because toward pagan people, for example, we do not say to them, ‘Be converted or, you will be damned’, but rather, ‘I’m telling you that you are loved by God.’

Clendenin: That was Jonah’s hard lesson, that God loved even the Ninevites! No one is excluded.

Ellul: Yes.

Clendenin: You said with Karl Barth that a person must be crazy to teach universalism, but impious not to believe it.

Ellul: Yes, I like very much this phrase of Barth’s. For me, obviously, there are biblical texts which seem to go against the idea of universalism, but I really don’t understand them very well. That’s why I say very often that for me universal salvation is in the realm of faith, but I cannot present it as a dogma.

Clendenin: Would it be fair to call your belief in universal salvation a pious hope but not an absolute conviction?

Ellul: No, it’s an absolute conviction.

Clendenin: Universal salvation sounds very un-Kierkegaardian!

Ellul: Yes, this is exactly the place where I part company from Kierkegaard.

Clendenin: But what about his question: does this do away with Christianity by making everyone a Christian?

Ellul: No, it does not make everyone Christian.

Clendenin: They are not hidden Christians?

Ellul: No, that’s right, to teach people that they are loved by God is to start them on the path of being converted to Jesus Christ. But it’s not at all what Kierkegaard justly criticized as a ‘Christian’ society.

Clendenin: Yes, this latter theme you pick up in The Subversion of Christianity. What about divine coercion in universal salvation, especially given your very strong emphasis on the absolute importance of human decisions/choices.

Ellul: This is really a story of love between God and man. I don’t believe that the human being is completely independent before God.

Clendenin: And here we’ve begun to ask the metaphysical question which we can never answer.

Ellul: When the Word of God addresses a person it liberates him or her, but this free person has heard a word from God. Often I ask my students and the people to whom I’m preaching, ‘Do you understand that what you’re hearing right now is a word from God?’ Thus there is human responsibility, and one can never say that God does not speak. Yes, He does speak now.


Each issue the Bulletin will print bibliographical references to articles and books either on Ellul or using Ellul’s work as well as other publications of interest in the area of theology and technology. If you have written such books or articles, please submit the bibliographic information preferably with a sentence or two of annotation. You may also submit articles written by others which you believe your colleagues should know about A few articles by Dan Clendenin and Darrell Fhsching are listed below to start things off.

Clendenin, Daniel.

Theological Method in Jacques Ellul. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1987.

”Will the Real Ellul Please Stand Up? A Bibliographic Survey," The Dinity Journal 6.2 (Autumn 1985): 176-183.

”The View from Bordeaux: An Interview with Jacques Ellul," Media Development 2/1988.

Fasching, Darrell J.

The Thought of Jacques Ellul. New York and Toronto: Edwin Mellen Press, 1981.

A comprehensive analysis of Ellul's sociology and theological ethics. (225pp.)

Technology as Utopian Technique of the Human," Soundings, Vol. LXII, #2, Summer 1980.

Utilizes Ellul's work in a broader thesis about the utopian and anti-utopian elements in modern technology.

”Jacques Ellul as a Theologian of Culture", Cross Currents, xxxv #1, Spring 1985.

Interprets Ellul’s work in the light of Tillich’s idea of theology of culture with a focus on Ellul’s books The New Demons and Apocalypse.

”Theology and Public Policy: Reflections on Method in the Work of Juan Luis Segundo, Jacques Ellul and Robert Doran," Method, Vol. 5, #1, March, 1987.

An critical comparative analysis of the role theologicaljsociological method in the critique of ideology as an element in the shaping of public policy.

”The Dialectic of Apocalypse and Utopia in the Theological Ethics of Jacques Ellul" in Research in Philosophy and Technology Greenwich: JAI Press, 1988.

An attempt to show that Ellul's dialectic leads to a more positive evaluation of utopianism than he explicitly allows. The complexity of Ellul's dialectic is unraveled using H. Richard Niebuhr's typology of "Christ and Culture."

”Mass Media, Ethical Paradox and Democratic Freedom: Jacques Ellul’s Ethic of the Word," in Research in Philosophy and Technology. Greenwich: JAI Press, 1989

An attempt to suggest an ethic for Journalists based on Ellul's analysis of media and propaganda which relates Ellul's work to the work of Eric Voegelin and the ethics of Martin Luther as well as the Anabaptist tradition.

”The Liberating Paradox of the Word," in Media Development 2/1988.

Relates Ellul's work on media and propaganda and especially his The Humiliation of the Word to the implicit concern the professional fields of communication (especially journalism) have with theology and the explicit concern theology has with communications.


The Ethical Importance of Universal Salvation

Darrell J. Fasching, University of South Florida

The purpose of the Forum is to provoke discussion, to further that goal, let me state the thesis of this position paper bluntly. In Dan Qendenin’s book, Theological Method in Jacques Ellul, (University Press of America, 1987), he offers as one of his most devastating critiques of Ellul the following: "The most glaring inconsistency in Ellul’s theological dialectic is bis nearly unqualified affirmation of die universal salvation of all peoples beyond history." (Clendenin, 135) According to Clendenin this dissolves the dialectical tension that Ellul otherwise maintains throughout his theology, the tension between No and Yes, between the Judgment and Promise of God. Moreover he argues that by insisting on universal salvation Ellul in fact commits the sin of collectivization (treating humanity as a mass) which he otherwise condemns in his dialectical critique of the technological society. My thesis is quite simple - Dan Clendenin is wrong. (1) Ellul’s affirmation of universal salvation has not broken the consistency of his Biblical and Barthian dialectic nor has it succumbed to collectivization. On the contrary (2) the notion of universal salvation is a necessary pre-condition for the ethic of freedom Ellul develops precisely to protest the collectivization of human behavior in a technological society Finally (3) Clendenin’s failure to understand this linkage between ethical freedom and universal salvation is complemented by his failure to understand the relationship of both to power. This leads to another questionable criticism central to his final critique of Ellul, namely that Ellul allows no positive place for the use of power within a Christian ethic.

(1) First, let’s be clear, Ellul is not professing some general philosophical dialectic. He explicitly states that he is affirming the Biblical dialectic of judgment and promise. This biblical dialectic is eschatological. That is, the Biblical literature itself, whether the prophets of the Old Testament or the Gospels of the New Testament, limits this dialectic to history. Clendenin wants Ellul to be "consistent" and carry this dialectic "beyond history." But that is precisely what would be inconsistent. Clendenin suggests that one strategy that Ellul could take in response to his criticism would be to "be explicit about what he implicitly affirms, that his concept of dialectic is limited to history, and that there is no reason for this dialectic to continue after this life. I have found only one place where he hints at such (The Humiliation of the Word, 269)." Clendenin acts as if this were a matter for speculation on which he is inviting Ellul to take a stand and is puzzled that he cannot find explicit references by Ellul to the issue. I submit that this is not hard to understand. Since Ellul explicitly subscribes to the Biblical dialectic which is limited to history I doubt that he ever thought that the matter needed further comment. Ellul remains consistently faithful to the Biblical dialectic.

(2) Second, Ellul’s insistence on universal salvation (a) is not an instance of the collectivization which he otherwise criticizes in a technological society but rather (b) is a precondition for an ethicof freedom which is able to combat such collectivization.

Let me address point (2a) first. For Ellul collectivization is a sin which has to do with the limits of human consciousness. Human beings, he argues, (in False Presence of the Kingdom for instance) are not capable of loving the whole human race. Individuals can only love individuals, the neighbor who crosses one’s path and is in need. Mass media seduce us into trying to love everyone. The media evoke compassion in us for those in distress half way around the world who we can only know abstractly and collectively. In the process we become diverted from caring for the neighbor we can personally know and help. Intent on changing the world, we become swept up in mass movements and bureaucratic structures which rob us of our individuality while at the same time we end up neglecting our neighbor. Such collectivization is a function of our being limited finite beings. As such we can neither know nor relate to all individuals personally and individually. Universal salvation on the other hand has nothing to do with this human limitation. Universal salvation is about God’s capacity, not our human capacity. Unlike ourselves, God’s knowing and caring are not limited. Only God could conceivably know, love and save the whole human race and do so without collectivization. Only God could love the whole human race by loving each individual as an individual. Therefore Clendenin is quite wrong to say that universal salvation is inconsistent with Ellul’s dialectical critique of collectivization.

Now let me turn to point (2b). In fact, the case is quite the contrary of the one Clendenin suggests. Universal salvation actually plays a central role in making possible Ellul’s ethic of freedom and its protest against collectivization by undermining the theological rational which has historically promoted Christianity as a collectivizing religion, one which produces an ethic of conformity to the world. Th make my case I wish to appeal to arguments advanced not by Ellul himself, although I believe they are presupposed in his work, but by two of his theological contemporaries, John Howard Yoder and Juan Luis Segundo. These are an unlikely pair of names to link together. Yoder champions the Anabaptist tradition while Segundo is an advocate of liberation theology. But on one issue both agree, namely that as soon as Christianity came to view its message as something everyone must accept in order to be saved, Christianity began to be "watered down" and abandoned its "ethic of discipleship" for a Constantinian ethic of "Christian civilization." [see chapter 8 in Segundo’s The Liberation of Theology, (Orbis Books, 1976) and chapter 7 in Yoder’s The Priestly Kingdom, (University of Notre Dame Press, 1984)].

Both argue that the sociological pressure of preaching a Christianity for everyone leads to the compromising of the Gospel ethicand ends up legitimating a "Christian civilization" whose final outcome is the Inquisition. Both argue that the core of this betrayal of the Gospel lies in assuming everyone has to be Christian in order to be saved. At this point Segundo makes the same move that Ellul does. That is, he appeals to Barth’s teaching on universal salvation. Only in this way, he argues, can the drive toward collectivization be broken in Christianity and its function as a minority Teaven" within society be recovered. Yoder is more suggestive and less explicit bu t he too insists that we have to get rid of the notion that everyone needs to be Christian, and implies that the separateness of Christians has as its goal the "whole world’s salvation" (12). Both of these theologian’s share Ellul’s conviction that Christians are and should be a minority in the world and that the desire to be otherwise leads to the "betrayal of Christianity". All three are intent upon recovering an important element of prophetic faith, namely, the insistence that election isa call to vocation (i.e., being a light to the nations) and not to a status of special privilege. To put it in New Testament terms, conversion as a response to the call or election to faith is not a privileged guarantee of salvation but rather a call to be a leaven for the transformation of the world into a new creation. When Jesus tells his disciples that they are to be the "salt of the earth" the metaphor is quite deliberate. Who in his right mind would sit down to a meal of salt On the other hand a little salt brings out the true flavor, the best flavor of any plate of food.

Those who admire Ellul’s prophetic ethical critique of our technological civilization but who would choose to deny his position on universal salvation need to ask themselves whether these two can really be separated. As Yoder and Segundo argue, the weight of Christian history suggests otherwise. For Ellul faith is a call to vocation. It is what some are called to do for God’s world in history. Salvation on the other hand is what God has done for the whole human race in Christ The good news of the latter frees Christians to assume the task of the former. Ruth is not a work that earns one a ticket to "heaven". But faith does make a difference, precisely where it should - in history as the freedom to struggle against the demonic forces of necessity, of collectivization and dehumanization. Rith inserts the freedom of God into history to the benefit of the rest of the world.

Clendenin’s presuppositions become clear when he accuses Ellul of making everyone into a Christian as a consequence of universal salvation (at the very least he seems to think Ellul must believe them to be "hidden Christians"). Clendenin cannot imagine that anyone can be saved unless he or she is a Christian. This never occurs to Ellul. In Clendenin’s interview Ellul explicitly denies this interpretation. Ellul is not playing games with Clendenin. It is simply that he can conceive of non-Christians being saved. For Ellul "being saved" and "being Christian" are overlapping categories, for Clendenin they are one and the same category.

(3) Let me tum to my final point, Clendenin’s critique of Ellul’s treatment of "power." That he should criticize Ellul for holding a view of universal salvation and also for not advocating a "positive" use of power is rather telling. At least from the point of view of John Howard Yoder’s theology. For Yoder thinks that it is significant that as soon as Christianity decided everybody had to be Christian it gave up the way of non-violence for the way of power and coercion. Where Christians of the first centuries refused to serve in the military, Constantinian Christians made serving the state into a Christian duty. Where Christian’s of the first centuries practiced the Judaic ethic of welcoming the stranger, Constantinian Christianity made being a stranger, one of another faith, illegal. By force of law, and arms if necessary, being a citizen required being a Christian. Yoder and Ellul understand that if you give power an inch it will take a mile - it will take over the whole world. To give power an inch is to compromise the Gospel as embodied in the Sermon on the Mount.

It is interesting that Segundo recognizes this but argues that not even Jesus could live in the world without compromising this message and so suggests that the Gospel must be compromised and the use of force must be baptized by the Gospel. Ellul does not make that mistake. He too recognizes that no one can live in the world without the use of power but he refuses to baptize it. Power may be necessary but necessity belongs to the realm of sin. To use the Gospel to condone power is to do the devils work. Even the power of a benevolent state rests on power as coercion which will never be used only for just purposes. For Ellul, Christians can hold positions of power but they must never succumb to the illusion that their use of power is blessed by the Gospel - rather they must learn to live with the dialectical tension and paradox of being both saints and sinners at the same time. Clendenin’s critique of Ellul on power is wide of the mark. For Ellul power is used positively when the Christian, like the yachtsman, welcomes the conflicting forces of power or necessity that impinge upon him or her and uses them against each other even as the yachtsman tacks against the wind. The only thing to be feared is the calm, for then he or she can do nothing. For Ellul, there is no freedom without power and necessity but as soon as we bless necessity we tum it into a demonic fatality and the positive becomes negative.

The question of the use of power is the most troubling question that Christian ethidsts face. I continue to wrestle with this issue myself. There is room for positions on the "positive use of power" in the ethical dialogue and I hope we will hear more from Dan Clendenin on this matter. But such positions need to take seriously the challenge of Ellul and Yoder (and we could add Stanley Hauerwas to this camp) who insist that Christians have got to stop thinking of themselves as having to "be in charge." The motivation to baptize power does not come from within the Gospel but from the outside, namely, from desire of Christians to run the world. This desire is closely tied to the presupposition that the whole world ought to be Christian, indeed must be Christian, in order to be saved. That is a dangerous pattern of reasoning and motivation and one which Ellul undercuts, severing the traditional link of Constantinian Christianity (Catholic and Protestant) between election and salvation. Since all are saved through Christ’s death and resurrection that task is already accomplished. What remains unfinished is the struggle with the demonic dehumanization and collectivization which occurs in history. It is to that struggle that the elect are called. Ellul’s insistence on universal salvation serves to rechannel the energy of Christians in the direction which is most needed in our time, the ethical direction. Rr from capitulating to collectivization in any way, it is rather a most potent force against it.

Clendenin has two other aspects to his argument with Ellul that I have not focused on. One is the charge that universal salvation violates human freedom. But universal salvation does not violate free will. It is not about human freedom at all but about divine freedom. It insists that no matter what humans may do God remains free to accept them in his reconciling love - that his love, like the rain, falls on the just and the unjust alike. Rather than reject those who reject him, he chooses to take the consequences of that rejection upon himself in an act of suffering reconciliation. As Paul puts it, prior to any act of repentance, "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us... when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him by the death of his Son...”.(Romans 5:8&10)

Clendenin puts his objection another way by arguing that the problem with Ellul’s position is that human "actions no longer have ultimate soteriological value." He is quite right and that is as it should be. The act that has "ultimate soteriological value" is the sacrifice of Christ, an act of grace. On this too Ellul is surely right Human acts are restricted to the plane of penultimate value, the plane of history where they can make a difference.

Finally Clendenin argues that universal salvation cannot be scrip-turally maintained. In this position paper I have not tried to show that universal salvation is true or consistent with scripture. I have simply tried to argue that to remove it from Ellul’s position effectively undermines the potency of the prophetic ethic he is so much admired for. In fact, however, I am largely persuaded by Ellul’s arguments in this area as well.

Clendenin seems to imply that the Biblical dialectic of "judgment and promise" should finally result in a division of the world into the saved and the damned. Such a conclusion however assimilates the "Good News" to the historical and dialectical categories of the sacred and profane. It is the power of the demonic (the diabolos or divider) over that dialectic which creates dualistic division, strife and chaos. But Ellul correctly perceives that that dialectical dualism is relativized by the Biblical (eschatological/apocalyptic) dialectic between the Sacred and the Holy, in which the Holy unites what the sacred once divided. Hence the love of God transcends the categories of the sacred and profane (the saved and the damned) and falls upon the just and the unjust alike.

Clendenin also accuses Ellul of a "selective reading of the Biblical texts" but this surely begs the question, since the opposing view selectively reads the Biblical text as well, ignoring precisely those elements Ellul would emphasize. But more to the point every theological position selectively reads the text. After all, (as Krister Stendahl and others have shown) "Justification by faith" is not the dominant theme in Paul’s thought and yet Luther made it the criterion by which all other scriptural statements were to be judged and forged it into the pillar of Protestant faith. Until I read Ellul’s brilliant exegesis of the Book of Revelation I remained skeptical that universal salvation could be scripturally maintained. I came away with my mind decisively changed. It seems to me that Ellul does with the Book of Revelation what Luther did with "justification by faith." Clendenin may disagree with Ellul’s reading of the Biblical texts but I doubt that he can show that his own alternative reading is any less selective. In the end I am inclined to accept the Pauline advice to Timothy, "We have put our trust in the living God and he is the Saviour of the whole human race but particularly of all believers.This is what you are to enforce in your teaching." (1 Timothy 4:10 )

A Visit with Jacques Ellul

Pessac, France, June 27,1987

by Marva Dawn

Jacques Ellul and his wife are very gracious people! They welcomed me kindly and even served raspberries from their garden. Through the excellent translating of Philip Adams, we held a far-ranging conversation for almost two hours. Prof. Ellul asked questions about my work, too - especially about some articles on teaching ethics to children. This stands out in my memory because Ellul serves as an excellent model of a profound scholar who is also able to relate well to other people. Concerning the common split in theologians between the head and the heart he said, "it is contrary to the Gospel."

We talked about many practical issues that day - the situation in South Africa, the ecology movement, U.S. intervention in Nicaragua, caring for the poor and the handicapped, euthanasia. As would be expected, Ellul stressed the importance of avoiding propaganda and political games, of thinking about each problem as a whole (thinking globally), and of seeing what we can modify practically in our own communities. He urged the U.S. to fight communism with economic justice rather than armies and to help the poor not only materially but also with fellowship, spiritual security and support in their anguish.

Regarding his efforts to reform the Church, Ellul criticized a "whole generation of liberal pastors" who "don’t believe in anything so they have nothing to say." He said that most of the renewal in France is taking place beside the churches (except for the charismatics), rather than in them. Now he belongs to a small transdenomination-al group trying to listen to laypeople, but this "scares the authorities." Ellul feels his most important insight for the Church has been his emphasis on hope. Secondly, against the particular French problem of 200,000 people (including many intellectuals) becoming Muslim, he stresses, "our God is a Tfinity." This led to a discussion of universalism; had

I already read Dan Clendenin’s book (see review) I could have been more able to press him further about the inconsistencies of his views.

The other major doctrinal topic was his concept of "the powers," the subject of my dissertation. When I questioned certain inconsistencies in his writings, he stressed that the powers must be understood dialectically - that they can’t be personalized, and yet that there is a Power beyond what can be explained, that every human rupture is a diabolos, the Separator.

Most helpful for me were Ellul’s comments about practical issues in writing and teaching, such as creating the necessary balance of preparing for one’s Bible studies while yet dealing with all the people who want to speak with us when we are leading retreats. He stressed the importance of the Holy Spirit in helping us to find the time to do both. When I thanked him for taking the time to talk with me in spite of all he has to do, he answered, "I’m almost done with what I want to write." Even as The Presence of the Kingdom was the introduction to his corpus, his recently complete commentary on Ecclesiastes is its conclusion. He said that he continues to write, but without a tight program. His Ethics of Holiness is written, but he doubts whether it will ever be published because it is too long - which led to a discussion of presenting our work in publishable ways. He said that he had created his own market, but that it had taken a long time. When I responded that I’m too impatient, he replied, "you must always be impatient."

I wanted to know Ellul as a person, encountering typical obstacles in the struggle to live out his faith and ministry. He revealed himself as I expected - a wonderful model of a gracious man incarnating the Gospel in practical ways, a brilliant man choosing carefully the values of the kingdom of God.

Media Development Devotes Issue to Ellul

Media Development: Journal of the World Association for Christian Communication has just devoted most of its 2/1988 (vol XXXV) issue to Perspectives on Jacques Ellul. Many of you who are receiving this first issue of Die Ellul Studies Bulletin have also received a copy since I supplied Michael Haber, the editor, with a copy of our mailing list However a number of you who have been added to the list since then will not have received it. You may want towrite fora copy. The address is Media Development, 357 Kennington Lane, London SEII 5QY England (Tblephone 01-582 9139).

The collection of articles is impressive. The table of contents is listed below for your information.

Table of Contents

Editorial: Jacques Ellul - a passion for freedom

Jacques Ellul - a profile

Some thoughts on the responsibility of new communication media

by Jacques Ellul

Is Ellul prophetic by Gifford G. Oiristians

The liberating paradox of the word by Darrell J. Fasching

Understanding progress: cultural poverty in a technological society

by RoelfHaan

Jacques Ellul: a formidable witness for honesty

by John M. Phelan

Feminism in the writings of Jacques Ellul by Joyce Main Hanks

Jacques Ellul-a consistent distinction by Katherine Tomple

Idolatry in a technical society: gaining the world but losing the soul

by Willem H.Vanderburg

An interview with Jacques Ellul by Daniel B. Qendenin

Annotated bibliography by James McDonnell

Forthcoming Ellul Publications

by Gary Lee, Editor, Eerdmans Publishing Co.

It is difficult to keep up with the work of a prolific author like Ellul - he seems towrite more quickly than most of us can read! This difficulty is compounded when the work has to be translated. But it is worth the effort (and the wait, for those who do not read French).

I will begin by just mentioning Eerdmans two most recent translations of Ellul titles: In 1985 we published The Humiliation of the Word (285 pages, $14.95), a translation by Joyce Hanks of La Parole humili^e. In 1986 we published The Subversion of Christianity (224 pages, $9.95), translated by Geoffrey Bromiley from La Subversion du christianisme.

In July of 1988 we will publish Jesus and Marx: From Gospel to Ideology (200 pages, $12.95), translated by Joyce Hanks from L’ld^ologie mandste Chrttienne. From both a biblical-theological and a socio-political perspective Ellul examines the attempts to relate Christianity to Marxism (e.g., liberation theology, Marxist Christianity). He describes the challenges that Marxist Christianity presents to traditional Christianity (the former practices some goals that the latter talks about but too often fails to do), and he discusses the roots and development of Marxist Christianity. He then reviews in detail some key Marxist-Christian books, exposing the weaknesses of so-called Marxist Christianity (which is neither Marxist nor Christian!). He argues that the biblical perspective takes exception to all political power; hence he concludes that Christian anarchism is the realistic revolutionary option. The preface by Joyce Hanks provides an excellent introduction to the book, for she shows how it relates to his previous work.

Early in 1989 we will publish Geoffrey Bromiley’s translation of Ce que je crois (the French edition, published in 1987, is 290 pages; the English edition will probably be less than 200 pages), tentatively titled What I Believe. In this book Ellul outlines his beliefs about life, the world, history, and Christianity. In the first part of the book he discusses, among other things, the meaningfulness of life, the dialectic, evil, and love. In the second part he surveys history from Paleolithic times to the present. In the third part he discusses his religious beliefs, including his views on providence, universalism, and recapitulation. The book is thus a convenient summary of Ellul’s beliefs and will serve as an excellent introduction to his thought, for he states succinctly and provocatively his views on many crucial topics.

Later in 1989 we will publish Joyce Hanks’ translation of La raison d’etre: Meditation sur I’Ecclesiaste (French edition, 1987, 318 pages) (English title uncertain). Here Ellul offers another of his stimulating biblical studies, on a book that has been central to his thinking for fifty years. He begins by discussing his approach to Ecclesiastes and his general view of the book. He then takes up various themes of Ecclesiastes (power, money, work, the good). Next he discusses the role of wisdom in Ec-clesiates and its relation to philosophy. Finally, he examines the references to God in Ecclesiastes, especially in chapter 12. Throughout, Ellul interacts with biblical-theological scholarship, though this is not a verse-by-verse commentary but more a thematic meditation.

We are considering the translation of Un chrdtien pour Israel', I have written to Ellul requesting a slight update, and he has agreed to write a postscript concerning the recent turmoil in Israel. In this book Ellul gives a biblical-theological analysis of Israel, then a historical, sociopolitical analysis, in which he examines the propaganda about Israel and considers the complexities of this difficult situation.

I have also just received from the French publisher Hachette a copy of Le bluff technologique, Ellul’s latest book, so that we can consider it for translation. This, his third volume on technique (The Technological Society and The Technological System being the first two), builds on the previous ones and is similarly massive (489 pages in the French edition). Though we are primarily a religious publisher and this, like the other volumes, is a sociological rather than a theological study, we are pursuing the translation rights.

In addition, we are considering a proposal by Marva Dawn for a translation of six key early articles by Ellul, which, along with Marva’s comments, would serve as an introduction to Ellul’s thought.

Several years ago Ellul told me that he had written a manuscript on Technique et Theologie, but that he could not find a French publisher for it, since he already had so many books in the works. I urged him to send it to me, even though it was handwritten, but he declined. I have asked him again, also for any other material he has, in whatever form. In his recent letter he stated that he has written both this work and bis Ethique de la Saintete (which is 1000 pages) but that both need to be updated and revised. In addition, he is currently working on or has plans for three other books, including one on the suffering of Christ, which we will surely pursue.

But Ellul’s writing career may be nearing its end. Who will pick up his mantle? Who will cany on in the tradition of Kierkegaard, Barth, Ellul, Stringfellow, etc.? Who will be our next prophet to provoke us to think deeply about our faith and our life?


by Dan Clendenin

(Editors Note: Some time ago I asked Dan Clendenin to give me an update on Ellul’s publication plans based on his interview with Ellul last April. Then just before press time I got in touch with Gary Lee to update me on what Eerdmans was planning to publish. Since there was a good deal of duplication between these reports and Gary’s was more recent, I am appending here, only those comments from Dan which add something to Gary’s report.)

Technology and Theology is done but needs to be "greatly revised and rewritten." When I asked Ellul just how close he was to final completion he remarked, "Right now I don’t have any desire to write... I’m not writing anymore right now. Maybe later, but not now. Above all, I feel free."

...As for The Ethics of Love and the second half of his prolegomena to ethics, he said he has notes, but they need to be written... Finally, I asked him about his two-volume autobiography which is already written. Would it be published? "No, I gave it to my wife. She will do what she wishes with it. If she wants to publish it, she will, if not, she will keep it."

As for other items (not based on my interview). Publisher Donald Simpson of Helmers and Howard (PO Box 7407, Colorado Spring, CO 80933) has been corresponding with Ellul and by now should have finalized a contract to bring back into print Presence of the Kingdom.... Also a secondary work on Ellul by David Lovekin is due out soon, published by Lehigh University Press.

Ellul and Propaganda Review

A new journal, Propaganda Review has crossed the editor’s desk. Some of you are probably familiar with it. Its editorial page indicates that the goal is to move "away from narrow definitions of propaganda toward a concept of a socially pervasive ‘propaganda environment’." It is a view on the subject which is certainly shared with Ellul and appears to owe a certain debt to his thought It may depart from Ellul somewhat in advocating the use of counter-propaganda to undermine the propaganda environment Issue number 2 contains an article on Ellul, entitled Jacques Ellul: Quirky Trailblazer of Propaganda Theory by Claude Steiner and Charles Rappleye. The short article, which contains some fine photo’s of Ellul, praises him for his pioneering efforts in studying propaganda but seems to treat him as an "oddball" (i.e., "quirky") in his appeal to Christian faith as a response to the propaganda environment. The article does not adequately illuminate how this faith response relates to the propaganda environment and thus makes the response seem somewhat arbitrary and quixotic.

The difficulty in fighting propaganda however is well illustrated in an excerpt from an interview with Ellul conducted by Claude Steiner, in which Ellul states:

Sometime ago I was teaching a course on propaganda techniques. I wasn’t studying the principles of propaganda as I do in my book; I was trying to teach my students about propaganda techniques in various countries so they could recognize them. At that time, I discovered that a French officer had been arrested in the Algerian and imprisoned because he was in possession of secret documents which belonged to the Fifth Office, the office for propaganda during the Algerian AAhr. I tried to contact this prisoner and to get hold of his secret documents because I hoped I could use them in my study. When I finally managed to obtain them, I found that they were notes from my course. The Fifth Office had taken my classwork to conduct their propaganda in Algeria. I decided never towrite anything on propaganda techniques again" (Issue #2, P-33).

If you are interested in subscribing to Propaganda Review, the price is $20.00 for four issues. Make checks payable to Propaganda Review and mail to Media Alliance, Building D, Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA 94123.

The Ellul Studies Bulletin
Department of Religious Studies
University of South Florida
Tampa, Florida 33620

Issue #2 Nov 1988 — Ellul's Universalist Eschatology

A Forum for Scholarship on Theology in a Technological Civilisation
November 1988 Issue #2
Department of Religious Studies,
University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620

In This Issue

AAR Consultation on Ellul p. 2

1st Inter-American Congress on Philosophy

& Technology p. 2

Conference on Democracy and Tecnology p. 2

Book Review of Willem Vanderburg’s The Growth of Minds and Cultures by Katherine Temple p. 3

Forum: A Critique of Ellul’s Jesus and Man by Michael Bauman p. 4

Responses to the Forum of Issue # 1 by Ken Morris p. 5

by Marva Dawn p. 7

Fasching's reply p. 7

Bibliiographic Notes on Theology and Technology by Carl Mitcham

& Jim Grote p. 8

Guidelines for submissions p.10

Subscriptions p. 10

From the Editor

by Darrell J. Fasching

Welcome to the second issue of the Ellul Studies Forum. For those of you who read issue #1, the first thing you may notice is a name change. The first issue was entitled The Ellul Studies Bulletin. Even after I chose the name "Bulletin" I was not entirely comfortable with it but it took me a while to figure out why. "Bulletin" reminds me of the latest breaking headline and the effects of propaganda. "Forum," on the other hand, suggests dialogue and discussion which focuses on the power of the word. The model of a "Forum" therefore is more in keeping with the spirit of Ellul’s work and shall henceforth be displayed on the masthead of this publication.

In this issue you will find an excellent review of Willem Vanderburg*s The Growth of Minds and Cultures by Katherine Temple. Vandenburg is strongly influenced by Ellul and his work deserves our attention. You will probably find the Forum position paper by Michael Bauman to be a rather harsh critique of Ellul’s Jesus and Marx. But since the purpose of the Forum is to stimulate debate and discussion, this should motivate some interesting responses for the next issue. There are also two responses to my essay "The Ethical Importance of Universal Salvation" which appeared in the Forum of our first issue. Both Ken Morris and Marva Dawn have some thoughts on my statement.

I am grateful to Dan Clendenin for assuming the responsibilities of Book Review Editor. If you are willing to review books or have a specific book you would like to review, contact Dan at William Tyndale College, 35700 West 12 Mile Rd., Farmington Hills, MI 48018.1 am also grateful to Carl Mitcham and Jim Grote who have agreed to be Bibliographic Editors. If you have materials for the ongoing bibliography, send them to Carl Mitcham, Philosophy & Technology Studies Center, Polytechnic University, 333 Jay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

The Ellul Studies Forum is meant to foster a communications network among scholars who are interested in the work of Jacques Ellul and in the general area of theology and technology. I want to encourage all readers to send contributions and make suggestions and I hope I will see many of you at the Ellul consultation in Chicago.

Finally, I should mention that I sent Ellul the first issue without advance warning. He responded that he was "happy and surprised at the creation of the Ellul Studies Bulletin* and he promises to respond to my request for a short essay to be published in a future issue.

2nd Ellul Consultation Scheduled for November AAR

by Dan Clendenin

The second consultation on the significance of Jacques Ellul’s thought for the study of religion will be held at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion in Chicago. The AAR meets from November 18th to the 22nd, 1988 at the Chicago Hilton and Towers. The session on Ellul will be held Monday, Nov. 21st, from 1 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. in conference room 4K on the 4th floor.

This year we will have three papers and a single respondent for our 21/2 hour session. The papers are as follows:

Clifford G. Christians: Ellul’s Sociology
Joyce M. Hanks, The Kingdom in Ellul’s Thought
David W. Gill The Dialectical Relationship Between Ellul’s
Theology and Sociology

Gary Lee, Respondent

There will be a late night opportunity for all Ellul scholars to get acquainted over a beer (or whatever you prefer). If you are interested please join us. We will meet at the AAR registration desk at 10 p.m. on Sunday evening and promptly adjourn to the nearest "watering hole" for "serious" discussion.

For further information on the Ellul consultation, contact the chairperson:

Daniel B. Clendenin
William Tyndale College
35700 West 12 Mile Rd.
Farmington Hills, MI 48018

There will be a late night opportunity for all Ellul scholars to get acquainted over a beer (or whatever you prefer). If you are interested please join us. We will meet at the AAR registration desk at 10 p.m. on Sunday evening and promptly adjourn to the nearest “watering hole” for “serious” discussion.

First Inter-American Congress on Philosophy and Technology

by Carl Mitcham

The first Inter-American Congress on Philosophy and Technology was held in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Oct. 5-8th, 1988. The Congress was organized by the Center for the Philosophy and History of Science and Technology of the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez, with some assistance from the Philosophy and Technology Studies Center of Brooklyn Polytechnic University.

The congress was attended by approximately 25 scholars from throughout Latin America, 20 from north America and 5 from Europe. It was conducted mostly in Spanish, with some papers being presented in English. Proceedingswill be published in both languages.

The themes that emerged from the conference included the issue of the relationship between religion and technology. A number of what might be called conservative Catholics from various countries (including the US) defended traditional views of the Christianity-technology relationship, i.e., that a recovery of a sense of the sacred or of God is necessary to place technology in proper balance.

Other themes focused on technology and culture, STS (science-technoiogy-society) education, the science-technology relationship, and ethics and technology.

Conference on Democracy and Technology

The Fifth Biennial International Conference of the Society for Philosophy and Technology will be held at the University of Bordeaux in France from June 29th to July 1st 1989. The theme of the conference is "Technology and Democracy." Health permitting, Jacques Ellul is expected to participate. For more information on the conference contact Stanley Carpenter, Social Sciences, Georgia Tech, Atlanta GA 30332 or Langdon Winner, Dept, of Science & Tech. Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst., Troy, NY 12180-3590.

Paper Exchange

(Readers are invited to make available relevant papers they have read (or will, read )at conferences. Please provide title, address and cost)

Darrell Fasching will deliver a paper on "Mass Media, Ethical Paradox and Democratic Freedom: Jacques Ellul’s Ethic of the Word" at the international conference on "Democracy and Technology" to be held at the University of Bordeaux next summer. Anyone desiring a copy should write to Fasching at the Deptartment of Religious Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL33620 and enclose one dollar to cover the cost of postage and duplication.

Thanks for the Help

A special note of thanks is due to David Gill and Dan Clendenin who shared with me the expense of producing the 1st issue of The Ellul Studies Forum which was distributed free of charge in order to generate interest in this enterprise.-The Editor


Those of you who have sent in checks subscribing to the Ellul Studies Bulletin may have noticed that your checks have not yet cleared. I apologize for the delay but I have encountered some bureaucratic tangles which delayed establishing an account to which these checks could be deposited. It appears that I have finally resolved all the problems and you should be getting your canceled checks soon.

Book Reviews

The Growth of Minds and Cultures

by Willem Vanderburg, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985.

Reviewed by Katharine Temple

[The following review is excerpted from the winter issue of Cross Currents 1985-1986. We are grateful to Katharine Temple and to Cross Currents for permission to reprint. - The Editor]

A cursory glance at the table of contents might leave the impression that here we have one more introductory textbook in sociology or anthropology. But this would be a mistake. Early on (p.9), Vanderburg tells us this is the first volume in a projected trilogy -Technique and Culture, a title which sharpens the focus. I have to admit it is daunting to pick up a 300-plus page book, only to find out there are two more yet to come. Since, however the task is enormous, I also have to conclude that the effort is worth it. In this case, it is important to pay closer attention than usual to the Preface and Introduction, which serve to clarify the end-point.

I have the profound sense that our present concepts allow us to see the mystery of human life only through a dark glass.... But the very process of asking new questions and not absolutizing reality as we know it is vital not only to keep scientific debates in their proper context, but also to guarantee a genuine intellectual life for us and the generations to come— If these reflections can contribute to giving new energy to a dialogue within the multi-versity and among intellectuals around science, technology and technique and their influence on human life, my audacity in attempting a synthesis on such a vast scope will have been worthwhile (pp. 302-303).

At no point is Vanderburg preaching to the converted. He is speaking to people who have to be lured into the discussion in the first place - natural scientists and engineers who, by and large, consider the social sciences beneath them, and those in other disciplines who are thoroughly intimidated by "the hard sciences." As he has to start from square one on both fronts, it is a difficult mix, especially when he wants to promote dialogue, and critical dialogue at that. Then, even apart from his pedagogical pursuits, his own research breaks out of the accepted positivist molds. His conceptual framework is grounded in the dialectical thought of Jacques Ellul ( who has written an incisive foreword that puts the methodology into perspective). Vanderburg has commented elsewhere about the influence.

In rethinking Marx... Ellul centered on technique, a much broader phenomenon than technology in the engineering sense. Indeed without recognition of this, much of what Ellul says may appear to be overstatement or exaggeration. It was this which struck me most when I first encountered it in The Technological Society, and called forth in me a desire to work through this concept from an engineer’s point of view (Cross Currents, Spring 1985).

Ellul is indeed one of the most brilliant interpreters of our century, but he is an inspiration others have found difficult to swallow, and so he is out of favor in the official groves of academe. Vanderburg has undertaken to introduce a recalcitrant crowd with uneven sophistication to controversial arguments based on highly sophisticated concepts. Perhaps this is as good a definition of formal teaching as any.

Having said that, let me also stress that The Growth of Minds and Cultures is not a re-hash of Ellul’s insights brought into the classroom. Both are sociologists who view the world very much alike and the Ellul imprint is clear. Nevertheless, they are sociologists who work differently. Just as Ellul is an analyst (in the etymological sense "to loosen," "to unpack," "to dissect") starting from the whole, so Vanderburg remains an engineer, examining the parts to see what makes the system tick and then working toward putting those parts together into a synthesis. One example. This book starts with the irreducible social unit, the individual, and follows how he or she is "enfolded" into the pre-existent web of culture. Ellul, by contrast, tends to start with a definition of technique itself. The two approaches are complementary, not interchangeable. The very lack of acceptance Ellul's work has encountered may indicate that the more nuts-and-bolts description is very much in order.

Every once in a while, it also occurred to me that there is not a single topic in the book that won’t be old hat to someone and long since rejected by someone else. I cannot say, however, that I wasn’t warned.

I have assumed that most of my readers, like myself, will have an expertise in some areas covered in these essays and not in others.... In all of this, I am keenly aware of the fact that both the frontier-type of highly specialized knowledge and the intellectual-reflective kind of knowledge have their own lacunae (p. xxv).

The whole point of a synthesis is not to come up with brand-new separate parts; it is to look at what we think is obvious with new lenses, to show new configurations and relationships. Of course, there is sometimes bound to be a deja-vue quality, as well as disagreement, partly because of the range of separate parts and partly because Vanderburg presents his case without being easily side-tracked. We are sadly unused to this way of thinking. The question is whether this sociological synthesis promotes clarity. I would say that it does. With both scientific coolness and passion, he succeeds in a synthesis that lays the foundation for his next work on technique.

Because he has made such a considerable sociological contribution, I feel churlish in asking questions perhaps better put to the discipline itself. My hesitations come at both ends of its spectrum. First, I think certain biological inquiries deserve greater weight; in particular, genetics and the implications of maleness and femaleness. Second, at the other end stands philosophy. Although the book is deliberately non-philosophical, many of the key concepts carry over from that tradition: mind, will, being, freedom, even culture itself. Such reservations probably would not come to mind if it were not for the overwhelming denial of biology and philosophy in technical civilization at large. Such may be the nature of the beast; nevertheless, from a book that carefully delineates terms, one is tempted to ask for more.

What heartens me the most about this book is the way it re-asserts common sense as a criterion, even as the discarded disciplines once did. Now, "common sense" is an elusive term both philosophically and in common parlance. The only consensus about it is that common sense is never very common. Yet, it is the best expression I know to describe the strength of Vanderburg’s argument. By it, I mean a practical wisdom and judgment that rely on perceptions and experience as the touchstones to shake us out of our tendencies to fantasize, objectify, trivialize and distort. People do not initially perceive themselves either genetically or statistically or philosophically and, strange or shaky as it may sound as a theoretical principle, Vanderburg is actually on solid ground when he builds on common perceptions. There will still be disagreements, but the stage is set for discourse based on actual experience, even on the widest conceptual plane.

Vanderburg has concerned himself with technological advances and what they might mean for our life. The Growth of Minds and Cultures leads us to see how hard it is to dissociate ourselves form a "star wars" mentality, in which our culture is deeply and almost inextricably embedded. Nevertheless, Vanderburg shows that we can think about this civilization in other than logistical terms or science fiction.


Jesus and Marx: *From Gospel to Ideology: A Critique

by Michael Bauman

(Michael Bauman is Director of Christian Studies and Associate Professor of Theology of Culture at Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, MI.)

The following was submitted as a book review of Jesus and Marx: From the Gospel to Ideology (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988), pp. xvi + 187. However, I thought it provocative enough to merit featuring as the Forum statement for this issue. Readers are invited to respond for the next issue. The Editor.

The first task of an academic author is to understand his subject. The second is to make himself understood. Though it may be offensive to say so in a forum like this, I do not believe that in Jesus and Marx Jacques Ellul has succeeded well on either count. Because it often takes longer to correct an error than to make it, and because this book contains a surprisingly large number of errors of fact and errors of interpretation, I must content myself, within the small scope afforded a book review, to mention but a few of the most flagrant or most easily noted shortcomings.

First, I deny that Christians ought to feel any pangs of guilt "because of what the searching gaze of socialism revealed about them, their church, or even Christianity itself (p.5). Socialism, for one thing, says nothing about anything. Only socialists do. What they say, I am convinced, is philosophically sloppy and historically incorrect The guilt revealed by "socialism" should be guilt felt by socialists. I can not countenance Ellul’s irresponsible assertions that Marxist criticisms are "obviously based on justice" or that "in every respect our society is unjust for both individuals and groups" (p. 6, emphasis added). Nor will I countenance Ellul’s unproven (and unprovable) assumption that justice means equality. One must not say, with Ellul and the Communists that our "unjust society results from twenty centuries of Christianity" or that "neither churches nor Christians are doing anything to improve the situation (p.6). All I will admit is that books and ideas like Ellul’s will not work and that his last statement is a refutation of his own book, written as it is by a Christian and clearly intended as an aid.

What is one to make of the scandalous assertion that "no matter what kind of poverty the poor suffer, the Communists are on their side, and the Communists alone are with them" (p. 6)? I can only say "God help those with whom the Communists stand." Obvious examples like Mother Teresa aside, one need only look at the years since WWII to see that Communism is the major perpetrator of poverty and not its solution. The Japanese, for instance, were on the losing side of the war effort and suffered nuclear destruction twice. They occupy a land not great in size or in natural resources. Nevertheless, their economy and their standard of living far outstrip that of the Soviet Union, which was on the winning side of the war, which was given all of Eastern Europe as a gift, and which has more people , more land and more natural resources than Japan. A similar comparison could be made between North and South Korea, East and West German, and mainland China and Hong Kong. Capitalism, not socialism, has unlocked the secrets of wealth and sustained growth. Capitalism, not socialism, has been the better friend of the poor. Socialists, not capitalists, ought to feel the pangs of guilt revealed by Socialism. Poverty circles around socialist ideas and socialist ideologues wherever they come to power. Shocking as it is to some, by the 1980’s the average Black’s per capita annual income under apartheid in South Africa was higher than that of the average white under Communism in the Soviet Union. In short, while capitalism and the Church are not perfect, neither are they what Ellul describes. Nor is Socialism.

Despite Ellul’s groundless claim that communist tactics are consistent with communist goals, it is obvious that communists preach liberation and practice enslavement. As long as the same band of happy thugs continues to occupy the Kremlin and to sustain the Gulag, we must not say, as Ellul does that "they accomplish what Christianity preaches but fails to practice” (p. 6). Such ideas are scandalous and reprehensible. Have we forgotten Solzhenitsytn so soon?

That is why Ellul must not say, as he does say with regard to Fernando Belo’s communism, that he respects the choice of others to be Communists and does not question it (p. 86). Nor should one say, with Ellul, that Belo’s leftist revolutionism is a "perfectly respectable" choice. It is not But, Ellul’s muddled sense of Christianity and of Communism permits him to make these and other such abhorrent assertions, such as that Belo’s view of the "radical opposition between God and Money, God and the State" and "God and Caesar" are not only true, but "truly evangelical” (p. 89). In other words, because of his partial acceptance of Communist claims, one can tax Ellul with the same charge with which he taxes Belo: he "appears not to suspect [that] Marx’s thought is a whole - a precise, integrated unit, based on a thorough method. Once one has adopted it, one cannot mix it with other methods and concepts." (p. 94).

Second, Ellul’s understanding of history is less than reliable. For example, he tells us that "often an ideology springs up to parry an ideology-free practice" and that "capitalism is a practice with no explicitly formulated ideology; socialist ideology arises to oppose it. Afterward, capitalism will produce a ‘defense’" (p. 1). Not only is it a highly debatable(if not downright mistaken) notion that there is any such thing as an "ideology-free practice" or that capitalism, when it emerged, was one, it is patently false to claim that its ideology developed in response to Socialism. Karl Marx and Das Kapital, after all, come after Adam Smith and The Wealth of Nations, not before.

Such errors seem to arise from Ellul’s peculiar view of ideology, a view wherein he tries to separate the inseparable. Contrary to Ellul, one cannot readily distinguish theology from ideology because the former category is a subset of the latter. To distinguish theology from ideology is no ‘more useful than to distinguish Irishmen from humanity. One might well distinguish good theology from bad ideology, or good theology from bad, but one need not do what Ellul tries to do. His attempt is based upon a definition of "ideology" so fully idiosyncratic that if one looked only at his definition, one could not guess the word it was intended to define. Flying in the face of every dictionary known to me in any language, Ellul defines ideology as" the popularized sentimental degeneration of a political doctrine or worldview; it involves a mixture of passions and rather incoherent intellectual elements, always related to present realities: (p.l). A large number of Ellul’s conclusions are based upon this monstrous and unjustifiable definition. When the foundation is tilted, how can the superstructure stand straight?

Forum, M. Bauman continued.

Ellul argues that while Christianity is not an ideology, it can degenerate into one as when, for example, it becomes "a means for distinguishing those who are right from those who are wrong [the saved and the damned" (p.2)]. But, Christianity did not become a means for making such determinations; that is something it was from the very beginning. Ellul, one begins to think, does not understand the nature of the very religion he is attempting to promote and to protect. "Christianity," he says," is the destruction of all religions" and of airbeliefs" (p.2). Because Christianity is, on any common sense view, undeniably a religion and entails beliefs, one cannot but wonder after reading such statements (1) if Christianity is not an enemy to itself, or (2) if Ellul uses language with grotesque imprecision and license. For many, the second option recommends itself most convincingly. So also does the conclusion that imprecise language is inescapably tied to muddled thinking.

This book’s muddle is extensive. Ellul’s skewed vision of history and of economic principles and reality are sometimes shocking, as when he tells us that Caesar is the creator of money (p. 168). For over 200 years, since Adam Smith and Adam Ferguson, economists have known that money antedates government and that it arises from human action, not human design. Government recognizes the medium of human exchange and adapts itself to it. Government does not create money. But such ideas are (so far as this book is concerned) unknown to Ellul He nowhere shows a knowledge or understanding of classical or of Austrian economics. If his index is to be trusted, Hayek, Von Mises, Schumpeter, Ricardo, Hume, Smith, Say, Bastiate, Gilder and Sowell form no part of Ellul’s knowledge of economics. I dare say that without knowing them, one could not understand Marx Perhaps that is why Ellul believes that Marx was "admirably well acquainted" with the problems of his day, that Marx’s misdirected and ineffective theories can be labeled "solutions," and that his anti-theism was not an essential part of his ideology (pp. 4,153).

And what is one to make of the grossly exaggerated assertions that "both the Old and New Testaments take exception to all political power" and that "the state’s prosperity always implies the death of innocents" (pp. 171,172, emphases added)?

In short, I believe Ellul misunderstands history, economics, Communism and even Christianity itself. In this book, Ellul does not adjudicate the Christian tradition, Christian wisdom, or Christian revelation in a capable or well-informed way.

Forum Response

The Importance of Eschatology for Ellul’s Ethics and Soteriology: A Response to Darrell Fasching

By Ken Morris

Dan Clendenin has strongly criticized Jacques Ellul for his affirmation of universal salvation. Darrell Fasching’s position paper on "The Ethical Importance of Universal Salvation" took Dan Clendenin to task over his failure to recognize universal salvation as an integral part of Ellul’s ethic of freedom, yet it must be pointed out that Ellul himself has said that one need not accept bis universalism along with the main body of bis approach to ethics.[1] Even though Fasching has made a helpful critique of Clendenin’s analysis, he has failed to uncover the root of both Ellul's optimistic soteriology and his ethics. In order to understand, and indeed, not be distracted by Ellul’s affirmation of universal salvation, we must grasp the centrality of Biblical eschatology to Ellul’s thought We must understand what Ellul means by "the presence of the Kingdom," an apt title for his seminal work.

Fasching sees universal salvation as "a necessary precondition for the ethic of freedom Ellul develops precisely to protest the collectivization of human behavior in a technology society." He uses the theologies of John Howard Yoder and Juan Luis Segundo to argue that universalism, by undermining the theological rationale and ethical motivation which have historically promoted Christianity as a collectivizing religion, serves to free up the church from its worries about converting the world and "rechannel(s) the energy of Christians in the direction which is most needed in our time, the ethical direction." Fasching draws on the assertion shared by Yoder and Segundo that the Gospel was betrayed when the church came to view its message as something everyone had to accept in order to be saved. The immediate result of this assumption was that the boundaries of salvation got drawn (and redrawn) in such a way that the greatest possible number of people could be included. Christianity abandoned its "ethic of discipleship" for an ethic of "Christian civilization." This shift failed to preserve the central biblical perspective of election as a call to vocation, and, instead promoted election as a special privilege. But the greatest significance of this move was that the emphasis in theology was shifted off of discipleship and onto salvation. Central to this shift was the definition of the boundaries of salvation according to, and for the sake of, human understanding.

While it is true that the contemporary church, especially the conservative wing, has a preoccupation with personal, future salvation, and while it is also true that an affirmation of universal salvation effectively undermines this emphasis on soteriology, it does not necessarily follow that Ellul’s universalism and his ethics of freedom are inseparable. Both Ellul’s ethics of freedom and his soteriology are rooted in his eschatology. One must understand this if one is not to be distracted by his universalism.

Ellul claims that Romans 8, which he feels is a fundamentally universaiistic proclamation, has indirectly inspired all the research and writing he has done over the last fifty years.[2] A specific reading of Romans 8 was the final stage in what Ellul elusively refers to as "a very brutal and very sudden conversion to faith in Jesus Christ."[3] He identifies three essential and interdependent themes in Romans 8: the salvation of the world, the suffering of the present time, and freedom. These three themes became the basis of all of his life’s study and proclamation.

According to Ellul’s exegesis of Romans 8, every individual is in solidarity with the whole of creation: "The creation’s suffering, (Paul) tells us, arises out of human sin - out of my sin." Therefore, if one person can be saved out of their sin, then the whole creation is concerned. "I can’t be liberated or emancipated by myself.... All creation - humans, animals, things - all are promised salvation, reconciliation, new birth, new creation."

The second theme in Romans 8 is the suffering of the present time. These sufferings are the inevitable subjection to "the law of sin and death" (8:2) which Ellul understands as bondage, obligation, fatality and biological, cultural, social, economic and political conditioning. The work of God in Jesus Christ ruptures these inescapable necessities by introducing hope. Hope, central to Ellul’s theology, is defined as the immediate expression of the eschatological and freedom is the ethical expression of hope.[4]

Freedom from necessity and fate is only possible in "the law of the Spirit of life in Jesus Christ." Not only have we all been set free, all creation will be set free. There is a Now of that liberation as well as a Not Yet. Salvation is "a liberation that puts me on the path of freedom." In Ellul’s personal discipleship under Christ both Christian hope, which is expressed in his ethics of freedom, and universal salvation are rooted in the Eschaton. "I go through all the miseries of the world carried by this hope, writes Ellul, "because I know that both those who know of it and those who don’t are walking together to meet their Lord and Savior."[5]

Given the historically soteriologicai focus of Christian theology, it is understandable that Fasching would argue for a direct connection between Ellul’s theology and ethics. Both Clendenin and Fasching grasp the significance of Ellul’s eschatological approach to theology and ethics, the same eschatological approach which gave rise to his universalism, but neither has stepped back far enough from the context of their thinking to recognize the effect that this traditional preoccupation with soteriology has had on their own theologies. For that matter, neither has ElluL

Clendenin betrays his preoccupation with soterioiogy by choosing this area to mount "one of his most devastating critiques of ElluL" Fasching is correct in questioning the consistency of Clendenin’s stance that adopts the ethics of freedom that are generated by Ellul’s eschatology yet rejects the soteriology that issues from the same. Even so, Fasching falls short of ridding himself of a soteriologicai tendency by affirming, after ElluL that in the apocalyptic/eschatological resolution of the historical dialectic between sacred and profane all persons are saved. The emphasis is still on salvation, in Fasching’s case it is simply all inclusive.

One of Clendenin’s critiques of Ellul's universalism is that it fails to extend his dialectic beyond history. Fasching is correct in his assertion that this criticism is groundless since Ellul clearly maintains that the Biblical dialectic is eschatological and thus limited to history. But regardless of whether or not this tension, which centers on the soteriological question, is resolved at the Eschaton, an affirmation of universal salvation in the midst of history allows the dialectical tension to collapse. On the whole, however, Ellul grapples with this soteriological tension in a consistent manner, and even when he allows it to collapse at the times he affirms universal salvation he reveals that he is not entirely comfortable in so doing, adding," I often teach in sermons and public Bible studies, but I never teach universalism. I do believe it, I attest to what I believe, I witness to it, but I don’t teach it."[6] To affirm universalism as true, yet to refuse to teach it, is more than simply a reluctance to be identified as a universalist. This hints at the dialectical tension of a soterioiogy rooted in eschatology. Geoffrey Bromiley picks up on this soteriological tension when he observes that Ellul’s position strives to avoid "either an automatic salvation on the one side or a salvation dependent on giving oneself in faith to Christ on the other."[7] A main theme in The Meaning of the City is that God’s characteristic love takes into account human free will, all human intentions, even if they are, in fact, revolts against God, and transforms them as material for the New Creation. Ellul recognizes that what he is contending is prone to misuse. The temptation inherent in this theological position of eschatological appropriation of everything and everyone is to give ourselves over to our selfish desires while counting on God’s pardon. But he argues that any such misuse is based on the rupture between reality and truth initiated with the Fall. Ellul draws his analysis from the Biblical revelation and therefore he claims it is fundamentally an appeal to those who have already madea decision of faith: "Either we believe that the Bible expresses the revelation of God centered in Jesus Christ... or else we do not believe it. We must not confuse the two positions: asserting that since God pardons in the end we have nothing to worry about and thus can obey our every whim is taking the attitude of one who does not believe in revelation."[8]

The person who claims to both universal salvation and moral license is one who does not understand that truth does not equal reality under the Fall. He thinks he can assert the truth that all will be adopted by God in his love while at the same time be rejecting the Lordship of Christ. It does not occur to him that he is attempting to restrict this word of revelation to pure objectivity. He is separating the word of universal salvation from its necessary context of obedient discipleship and, in so doing, uses it to oppose that discipleship. He wants to separate his life for what he thinks is an objective truth, but the biblical revelation is that "all human speech is intrinsically connected to a person —. (when) someone has tried to separate it from the person who speaks it, it has lost is relationship with truth and has become a lie."[9] Only for the person who lives in the eschatological kingdom, that is, under Christ’s Lordship, can this revelation be a reality. Only at the Es-chaton are reality and truth reunited.[10] Thus, the present possibility of a situation arises in which two people can assert the truth of universal eschatological salvation but only the one who is in the eschatological kingdom, as demonstrated by his or her submission to the ethics of that kingdom, is speaking of reality in truth. For the other, salvation is not a reality.

In effect, what Ellul accomplishes with his eschatological dialectic is to remove the possibility of answering the soteriological question once and for all: yet he does just that. Ellul has stated that, "the soteriological dimension is diminished with respect to the dimension of the kingdom."[11] With the advent of the Kingdom (though hidden and not yet fulfilled) in the coming of Jesus, the soteriological dimension is completely removed. Therefore, in affirming universal salvation Ellul is taking an unjustifiable liberty with the eschatological dialectic, a liberty that causes more trouble and confusion than it is worth. Especially since the soteriological tension is, in and of itself, sufficient to move our theological focus off of salvation and back onto discipleship and the kingdom of God. Ellul’s perspective on salvation and his ethics of freedom share a common root in his eschatology, but they are only indirectly connected.

Vemard Eller (University of La Verne) is a scholar familiar with Ellul who has effectively grasped the importance of retaining a soteriological tension. Eller wants to walk a narrow path in his soterioiogy, one that most contemporary theologians, with their central focus on salvation, would find difficult to accept. On the one hand, he feels that it is wrong to assert that there will inevitably be some people who will not be saved. On the other hand, contra Ellul, he believes that it is just as wrong to assert that all human beings will ultimately be saved.

Since one cannot be sure of either particularism or universalism, the most one can propose is a "universalistic possibility." This effectively moves our focus off of salvation and onto the ethic of discipleship grounded in our response to what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Ellers universalistic possibility (see his Revelation: The Most Revealing Book of the Bible} is a third soteriological position, and one which moves beyond the particularism/universalism impasse by preserving the tension of the eschatological dialectic. It only becomes an option, however, after we have been able to identify our misleading emphasis on personal, future salvation as unbiblical and heeded Ellul’s call for "re-escbatologization" of Christian theology.

Presently we find ourselves trapped in a circle of incriminations. Contemporary scholars and theologians who begin to rediscover the eschatological root of biblical discipleship and begin to tentatively work out their understanding of the soterioiogical tension, usually, by attempting to balance particularism with a broader sense of God’s graceful action, are invariably branded with the scarlet "U" of universalism. A good example is Ellul’s predecessor, Karl Barth. In an "evangelical" response to Barth’s theology entitled The Triumph of Grace in the Theology of Karl Barth (1956), G.C. Berkouwer identified the key element of Barth’s theology as the tension between universal election and human decision. Instead of seeing this as a dialectic, however Berkouwer pointed to it as a crossroads and wondered which way Barth would turn: "Probably no one will wish to venture a prophecy as to the direction in which Barth will further develop his thought It is possible, however, to state in a nutshell his central thesis. This is that the triumph of election means, centrally and determinatively, the a priori divine decision of the election of ail in the election of Christ."[12]

Barth responded to Berkower by attempting to move the emphasis away from the question of salvation and toward a freedom and pursuit of a knowledge of Christ: Tm a bit startled at the title, The Triumph... Of course I used the word and still do. But it makes the whole thing seem so finished, which it isn’t for me. The Freedom... would have been better. And then instead of— Grace I would have preferred ...Jesus Christ.’^

AU this is particularly significant for the contemporary church as it grapples with the issues of evangelism and social action. As long as our focus remains on personal, future salvation, we can never be entirety comfortable with a renewed emphasis on an ethic of discipleship. But if soterioiogy can be grasped in terms of a tension rooted in Biblical eschatology, then we can move beyond the either/or approach (either particularism or universalism) in which the majority of contemporary, orthodox, Christian theology has sunk its roots.

A Second Forum Response to Fasching

In response Darrell Fasching’s article on "The Ethical Importance of Universal Salvation" in the premier issue of The Ellul Studies Bulletin: It seems to me that throughout his critique of Clendenin’s objections to Ellul’s notion of universal salvation Fasching confuses two very important and necessarily distinct issues. Underlying all three points of Fasching’s argument is a confusion of evangelistic coercion/Constantinian power and the particularity of the gospel.

John Yoder is right to criticize the Constantinian coercion that demanded conversion (a better choice than losing one’s life!) and thereby watered down the ethics of Christian discipleship. But that coercion is not identical to the belief that salvation was made possible for the human race particularly through the gift of Jesus Christ, in whom all human beings are invited to have faith.

Rather than the notion of universal salvation, the idea that Jesus alone is "the way, the truth, and the life" is the necessary pre-condition for an ethic of freedom. Without him a person struggles under the un-freedom of trying to mate ones own way, of following all the right steps to find the truth, and of expending great effort to create and justify one’s life.

The gift of salvation in Christ is offered freely. God does not coerce us to accept it Moreover, God’s grace sets us free re respond to that salvation with lives that carry on what Fasching calls "the struggle with the demonic dehumanization and collectivization which occurs in history." Consequently, the Christian ought not to use power to coerce others into accepting the good news of God’s gift in Jesus. Fasching rightly criticizes Constantinian link with power, but throws the bay out with the bath water when he also rejects the uniqueness of Christ’s victory over the powers.

Ellul, Yoder and Hauerwas all are right to condemn the unbiblical notions that Christians are in charge, but this ought not to be confused with the idea the Christians have a great gift to offer the rest of the world - the grace of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Fasching falsely links" the desire to run the world" with the belief that Christ alone is the means to salvation. Unfortunately, throughout history, since Constantine, Christians have used power instead of appeal in their evangelism, but that was not the case in the early church. All its members were both pacifists and also advocates of Peter’s confession that "there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among [humankind] by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12).

Fasching's Reply

I very much appreciate the thoughtful responses to my essay by Ken Morris and Marva Dawn. I must say that in many ways I find Ken Morris’ essay persuasive. I agree with him that it would be desirable (given the typical narcissistic emphasis on personal future salvation) to remove the issue of "salvation” from the theological vocabulary altogether, replacing it with a focus on eschatology. I find it distracting, and almost embarrassing, to have to spend so much time discussing it when our focus is on the response of theology to a technological civilization. And yet, just because there is such a prevalent misuse of this theme which does distract from the ethical-eschatological dimension, such a discussion is unavoidable. Given this past history I wonder if it is really possible to attempt to sidestep the issue as Mr. Morris seeks to do. I am afraid that Vemard Eller’s position, at least as interpreted by Mr. Morris, may not really undercut the motivation to turn the whole world into a collectivist Christian civilization. Agnosticism about salvation, Max Weber argued, actually led Calvinists to be more compulsive in spreading Protestant Christian civilization. If it is true of Ellul’s position, as Mr Morris says, that "an affirmation of universal salvation effectively undermines this emphasis on soteriology" it may be (given our past history) the only way to undercut a collectivist ethic and recover an ethic of discipleship. I recognize that Mr. Morris is right to warn that affirming universal salvation in the midst of history may collapse the dialectical tension necessary for an ethic of discipleship. Paul faced the same problem in preaching that in Christ all things a permitted. Some took this as an invitation to license. That is why it is probably good that the scriptures are ambiguous on this matter. No one can reasonably claim certain knowledge on this issue and take things for granted. It is better to have some doubts even as we live by hope.

I am less persuaded by Marva Dawn’s position. I do not see how the statement - "the gift of salvation in Christ is offered freely. God does not coerce us to accept it" - can be true if the consequence of refusal is hell and damnation. It is only offered freely if one accepts Ellul’s premises concerning universal salvation. Dawn opposes "universal salvation" to the notion that "Jesus alone is the way" but for Ellul this is a false opposition since he affirms both. Dawn concludes her argument with Acts 4:12 (i.e., there is salvation in no other name), apparently to oppose it to my conclusion with 1 Timothy 4:10 (i.e., God is savior of the whole human race, especially all believers). It is interesting, however, that on her premises one is forced to choose between these two scriptures but on Ellul’s premises one can consistently affirm the truth of both.

Bibliographic Notes on Theology and Technology

by Cari Mitcham and Jim Grote.

Danner, Peter L. An Ethics for the Affluent. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1980. Pp. viii, 416. "[Ijntended for undergraduates who accept in a general way Judaeo-Christian ethical values. Its subject is ethics as applied in economic relations, and its orientation is personalist" (p. 1). Technology mentioned explicitly only in passing, but nevertheless of some relevance.

De Franch, Ramon Sugranyes, Chanoine A. Doneyne, Jospeh Kaelin, and O. Costa de Beauregard. Foi et technique. Paris: Librairie Pion, 1960. Pp. 181. Proceedings from the XUIe Assemble Pldnifere de Pax Romana, Mouvement International des Intellectueis Catholi-ques, in Louvain, July 1959. The authors contribute an "Introduction" and articles on "Technique et religion,” "La biologie dans le champ de tension de la pensde contemporaine," and "Probldmesde foi d’unscien-tifique," respectively. These are followed by a lengthy "Accueii de la foi dans un monde scientifique et technique" by an international commission. [Both of these first two citations are to important items inadvertently missing from the "Select Bibliography of Theology and Technology" in Theology and Technology (1984), to which these notes are a supplement]

Granberg-Michaelson, Wesley. A Worldly Spirituality: The Call to Take Care of the Earth. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1984, Pp. xiv, 210. The author "identifies himself as an evangelical and distinguishes himself as such from Catholics and liberal Protestants, but he writes in no sectarian spirit. His concern is to arouse believers of all persuasions - evangelicals, fundamentalists, and all the rest - from construing their faith in exclusively personal terms... and to make them aware of its application to the world as God’s creation. He seeks to articulate a biblically-based theology and does not hesitate to call in the assistance of modem biblical scholarship from all quarters." - from the favorable review by George S. Hendry, Theology Today 42, no. 2 (July 1985), pp. 264-266. Granberg-Michaelson was for eight years chief legislative assistant to Senator Mark Hatfield, has been a member of the Sojourners community, and now directs the New Creation Institute and teaches journalism at the University of Montana.

Jaki, Stanley L. "The Three Faces of Technology: Idol, Nemesis, Marvel," Intercolleguite Review 23, no. 2 (Spring 1988), pp. 37-46. The Enlightenment looked upon technology as idol; its critic Edmund Burke viewed technology as nemesis. "Burke’s ultimate perspective on the shift from chivalry to calculators, human or electronic, was a religious perspective" (p. 39). Trying to eschew these extremes are those such as Dennis Gabor who turn to technology as a marvel for manipulating even society. What is really called for is responsibility. A breezy piece with many apt historical references.

Locher, Gottfried W. "Can Technology Exist without Belief?" Theology Digest 21, no. 3 (Autumn 1973), pp. 221-223. Abstract from "Galuben und Wissen," Reformatio 22 (1973), pp. 82-92. Christians must assert themselves to influence science and technology for the better. [Another miss in the 1984 bibliography.]

Lecso, Phillip A. "Euthanasia: A Buddhist Perspective," Journal of Religion and Health 25, no. 1 (Spring 1986), pp. 51-57. Buddhism prohibits active euthanasia and advocates hospice care. By an M.D.

Marty, Martin E. "The Impact of Technology on American Religion," chapter 11 in Joel Colton and Stuart Bruchey, eds., Technology, the Economy, and Society (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987), pp. 278-287. Although in Europe technological change has been at odds with religion, such has not been the case in the United States. In the US prior to industrialization only about 10-20% of the population was religiously affiliated. But "the coming of technological industrialization was accompanied by an almost consistent rise in churchmembersbip(toover60percent)fromthe 1870s into the 1960s. Somehow, Americans blended technological mastery with religious search and identification" (p. 279). There are, however, problems and ironies in the technology of worship, the symbolization of spiritual experience, the application of ethics, and the instrumental use of technology.

Moran, Gabriel. "Dominion over the Earth: Does Ethics Include All Creatures?" Commonweal 114, no. 21 (December 4, 1987), pp. 697-701. A Christian brief for animal rights in the face of advancing technology. This is part of a special issue on the theme "Keeping Afloat: Stewardship in Machines, Money and Farms."

Novak, Philip. "The Buddha and the Computer Meditation in an Age of Information," Journal of Religion and Health 25, no. 3 (Fall 1986), pp. 188-192. Meditation can help deal with the cognitive as well as the emotional stress of information overload.

”Perspectives on Jacques ElluL" Theme issue of Media Development (Journal of the World Association for Christian Communication) 35, no. 2 (1988), pp. 1-31. Contents: Jacques Ellul’s "Some Thoughts on the REsponsibility of New Communication Media," Clifford G. Christians’ "Is Ellul Prophetic?" Darrell J. Fasching’s "The Liberating Paradox of the Word," Roelf Haan’s "Understanding Progress: Cultural Poverty in a Technological Society," John M. Phelan’s "Jacques Ellul: A Formidable Witness for Honesty," Joyce Main Hanks’ "Feminism in the Writings of Jacques Ellul," Katharine Temple’s "Jacques Ellul: A Consistent Distinction," Willem H. Vanderburg’s "Idolatry in a Technical Society: Gaining the World but Losing the Soul," Daniel B. Clendenin’s "An Interview with Jacques Ellul," and James McDonnell’s "Annotated Bibliography."

Sherrard, Philip. The Eclipse of Man and Nature: An Enquiry into the Origins and Consequences of Modem Science. West Stockbridge, MA: Lindisfarne Press, 1987. Pp. 124. Useful restatement of the problems created by the desanctification of nature in modem science. As much about technology as much as science, though it fails to say so.

Thomas, Mark J. Ethics and Technoculture. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1987. Pp. vii, 305. Technology is neither inherently good nor inherently evil, but ambiguous. From Paul Tillich’s theology of culture, which recognizes and tries to deal with such ambiguity, and Tillich’s occasional reflections on the ambiguity within technology, Thomas attempts to develop a more comprehensive theology of technological culture. Chapters I and II are introductory, providing first an overview and then some basic perspectives. Tillich’s view (summarized in chapter HI) is then systematically contrasted with the more affirmative views of technology found in Talcott Parsons and Herbert Marcuse and the negative view of technology found in Martin Heidegger in relation to technologicaLtimeancLspace (chapter IV) and technological causality and substance (chapter V). The affirmation of technology is coordinate with an autonomous view of the human, the negation of technology with a heteronomous view. The concluding chapter VI sketches a theonomous view of technology. "Human technology is ambiguous (creative and destructive), because human being is estranged from its own ground and source. Autonomous social ethics (Parsons, Marcuse) cannot create an unambiguously good technological society because it cannot overcome the existential situation. Heteronomous social ethics (Heidegger) cannot create the common good because it cannot reimpose the primal relation to origins. And insofar as all of these ethical interpretations are expressed in terms of a self-sufficient finitude, none can grasp either the depth of human estrangement, nor the ultimate source of transcendence required for its fulfillment Only when human artifice and innovation are seen as derivative and existentially distorted can the ambiguity of the technological era be grasped:

We cannot close our eyes any longer to the fact that every gain produced - for example, by scientific and technical progress - implies a loss; and that every good achieved in history is accompanied by a shadow, an evil which uses the good and distorts it.

Any social ethic which fails to grasp this central reality is doomed to swing with the movements of history between an unwarranted optimism and an equally unwarranted despair over the human condition" (pp. 225-226). A truly theonomous view of technology will affirm its creativity and value production as such but also contain "an element of ‘technical self-limitation’" (p. 232). This limitation will be guided by organization under a democratic socialism. Originally a doctoral dissertation directed by Langdon Gilkey.

”To Be Christian is to be Ecologist." Theme issue of Epiphany 6, no. 1 (Fall 1985), pp. 1-83. Guest editor, Peter Reinhart. Contents: Vincent Rossi’s "The Earth is the Lord’s: Excerpts from The Eleventh Commandment: Toward an Ethic of Ecology*," Stephen Muratore’s "Where Are the Christians?: A Call to the Church," Rossi’s "Theocentrism: The Cornerstone of Christian Ecology," "Earth Stewardship ’84: A Special Seminar Section" - with contributions by Fred Krueger on "The Eleventh Commandment and the Environmental Crisis, Muratore on "Stewardship is Enough: Ecology as Inner Priesthood," Reinhart on "The Ten Talents of Stewardship and the Angelic Dimension" and "Eternal Festival: Folk Culture, Celebrations and Earth Stewardship," and Michael Crowley on "The Virtues: Commitment, Spiritual Practice and Transformation" - Michael Eichner’s story "The Master Craftsman, an interview with Krueger of the Eleventh Commandment Fellowship, Muratore’s "Holy Weakness, Strength of God: From Despair to Christian Ecology," and a good annotated survey of books on the environmental movement.

Readers are invited to contribute to this ongoing bibliography. Please send books or articles to be noted, or notes themselves, to
Carl Mitcham
Philosophy & Technology Studies Center
Polytechnic University
333 Jay Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Call for Manuscripts

Peter Lang Publishing

Peter Lang Publishing (New York/Bem) is searching for bold and creative manuscripts for their new monograph series on Religion, Ethics and Social Policy edited by Darrell Fas-ching. Scholars from the Humanities and Social Sciences are invited to submit book-length manuscripts which deal with the shaping of social policy in a religiously and culturally pluralistic world. We are especially interested in creative approaches to the problems of ethical and cultural relativism in a world divided by ideological conflicts. Manuscripts which utilize the work of Jacques Ellul would be most welcome, as well as manuscripts taking other approaches. A two page brief on the series is available. For more information, or to submit a manuscript, contact the series editor, Darrell J. Fasching, Cooper Hall 317, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida 33620. Phone (813) 974-2221 or residence (813) 963-2968.

U.S.F. Monographs in Religion and Public Policy

University of South Florida Monographs in Religion and Public Policy is looking for manuscripts on religion and public policy of an intermediate length (i.e., too long for journals but too short for a book.) If you care to submit a manuscript in that category or wish to make further inquiries, contact:

Nathan Katz, Editor
USF Monographs in Religion and
Public Policy
Dept, of Religious Studies
University of South Florida
Tampa, FL 33620

Issue #3 Jun 1989 — Eller and Ellul on Christian Anarchy

A Forum for Scholarship on Theology in a Technological Civilisation
©1989 Department of Religious Studies,
University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620

In This Issue

Forum: Be Reconciled by Jacques Ellul p. 2

Forum Response to M. Bauman

by Jacques Ellul p. 4

Anarchism & Christianity The Paradox of Anarchism and Christianity by Jacques Ellul p. 5

Vemard Ellers Crowning Achievement

by Hu Elz p. S

Christian Anarchy by Vernard Eller p. 6

jSooh Mtbittoi

Ellul’s Anarchie et Christianisme & Eller’s Christian Anarchy by Katherine Temple p. 8

Ellul’s Jesus and Marx by Dan Clendenin p. 9

Bibliographic Notes on Theology and Technology Some Recent British Discussions Regarding Christianity and Technology

by Cari Mitcham p. 10

Ellul Publications Update by Gary Lee p. 3

Guidelines for Submissions Subscriptions p. 12

From the Editor

by Darrell J. Fasching

Welcome to issue number three of the Ellul Studies Forum. This issue completes our first subscription year and I hope that you think this effort worthy enough to renew your subscriptions for issues four and five. Please note that there is a subscription renewal form enclosed. Also note a slight increase in subscription price, from four dollars per year to six (eight on foreign subscriptions). I started out with the lowest possible subscription price I thought (hoped) we could manage on. However, after a year of experience its clear that this modest increase will be needed to keep us in the black.

You should find this issue especially interesting. Our Forum essay "Be Reconciled” is by Jacques Ellul himself. He graciously sent us this article as he promised when we began the Ellul Studies Forum. You will also find Ellul’s rather stinging reply to Michael Bauman’s review of his book Jesus and Marx (Issue #2, Nov. 88) in this issue’s Forum Response column. Ellul outlines in detail why Michael Bauman’s review is seriously misrepresentative. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to say a few words about this review myself. First, I must offer a word of apology to our readers and especially to Jacques Ellul for publishing this rather irresponsible review. I must confess that at the time, my pressing schedule had not yet permitted me the time to read Jesus and Marx. Mr. Bauman was asked to write a review of this book by our book review editor and I received it shortly before publication time. I recognized it to be a rather harsh and uncharitable review. Still, I decided to run it because I felt it was important to establish that critical reviews are welcome and an important part of scholarship, no matter how well established the author under review.

What I was not in a position to judge at the time was that the review was seriously misleading. Having since read Jesus and Marx it is now clear to me that Mr. Bauman seriously misrepresented the subject matter of the book. He professes to be a "theologian of culture." He might have learned something from the master of that discipline, Paul Tillich. Tillich said that what struck him most about scholarship in this country when he came here from Germany was that one’s opponents always attempted to refute the strongest possible interpretation of your work whereas his European colleagues were in the habit of choosing the weakest possible interpretation and often ended up destroying a "straw man." I am afraid that is what Mr. Bauman did in the last issue - if not worse. While claiming that the first obligation of an author is "to understand his subject" he proceeds to interpret the positions Ellul is criticizing as positions Ellul himself holds. This is an inexcusable error, if it is an error. One has to wonder if it is not deliberate misrepresentation. From Mr. Bauman’s review one gets the impression that Ellul is championing communism and socialism and condemning capitalism. One could scarcely conclude from Mr. Bauman’s article that Ellul’s book is a stinging critique of socialism and communism which argues that Christian faith can never be compatible with either. And yet that is exactly Ellul’s thesis. One would never guess, from Mr. Bauman’s review, that such sentences as the following could be found in Jeus and Marx: If you care for the poor, Ellul argues, "You will have to break quickly with Communism, since its practice has produced many more radically poor people than capitalism ever did. Communism has never defended the truly poor: only those who were useful to the revolution" (p. 131). It makes one wonder if he bothered to read anything beyond the first chapter.

What is equally disturbing about Mr. Bauman’s review is the arrogant tone with which he puts forth his own views as unquestionably true, leaving the impression that anyone who disagrees with him is simply out of touch with reality. Mr. Bauman seems painfully unaware of his own vulnerability. If he did not bear the title Associate Professor, I would have assumed him to be a "green" Ph.D., fresh out of graduate school In the future, I promise to exercise tighter editorial control, not to exclude disagreement and/or criticism of the work of Jacques Ellul (I myself engage in these tasks) but to exclude irresponsible scholarship, not worthy of the name.

In the book review section you will find a new review of Jesus and Marxdone by Dan Clendenin, our book review editor, which I think will give you a better understanding of the book’s contents. You will also find an essay review by Katharine Temple of Ellul’s/frurrc/iie et Chris-tianisme and Vemard Eller’s Christian Anarchy.

Indeed, a major section of this issue is devoted to the theme of Christianity and Anarchy. We are pleased to have three essays on this topic. One is derived from the last chapter of Jesus and Mane. The other two were graciously sent to me by Vemard Eller. One is by Eller on his interpretation of "Christian Anarchy" and the second is by a mysterious Hu Elz on "Eller’s Crowning Achievement" - namely his influence on Ellul’s development of the theme of anarchy. Who is Hu Elz? I am afraid I don’t know. No identification was given with the essay. But a skillful literaty-critical analysis might suggest that he must be a "close disciple" who has absorbed much of Eller’s casual style.

Finally, we have a Bibliographic essay from Carl Mitcham on movements and newsletters in England relating Christianity and technology, which should be of considerable interest And we have a review of upcoming Ellul publications by Gary Lee of Eerdmans Publishing Company.

The next issue (November) will be devoted to the theme of Judaism and Christianity in a Technological Civilization. I am off to Bordeaux and the Society for the Philosophy of Technology’s conference on "Democracy and Technology" at the end of this month. While I am there I plan to interview Ellul about his book Un chrttien pour Israel. Ellul’s view of the cooperative vocation of Jews and Christians in a technological civilization is a fascinating aspect of his work which has received little attention. If anyone has a contribution they would like to make on this or any other topic please feel free to send me your manuscripts.


Be Reconciled

by Jacques Ellul
Translated by Joyce Hanks

God’s reconciliation with humanity is secured through Jesus Christ. But this should lead to reconciliation on our part with God, and to reconciliation among us. In what follows, I would like to suggest just an outline of the second point It seems to me to entail two aspects: religious and theological quarrels and divisions, on the one hand, and position-taking in the World, on the other.

As I have thought about it over the last several years, the tragedy of the separation of our various Churches springs from the fact that the reasons for their separation no longer matter very much. Two hundred or a thousand years ago, these reasons often justified separation. In the case of the theological battle over filioque, for instance, do theologians and clergy today really attach great importance to this formulation of the faith?

Or consider certain facets of that great schism, the Reformation: transubstantiation, for instance. A French Catholic theologian said to me a few months ago that "no one" on the Catholic side believes any more that the wine is materially transformed into blood, and the bread into flesh (I think he meant theologians, since the situation certainly differs among simple believers!). He said "we believe in Jesus’ real presence (but in the sense of his words: ‘I am in your midst’). The bread and wine are Symbols of that presence." This inevitably reminded me of Calvin’s phrase: "we believe in Jesus’ real (meaning ‘true’!) presence in the Lord’s Supper, but not in his material presence. The dispute sprang from a certain philosophy of substances, no longer accepted in our day. On the contrary, we can come together rather easily on the basis of an existentialist philosophy.

The huge debate concerning salvation by faith or by works was similar. The terrible thing in this case was that both sides agreed salvation came by grace, in any case. But one group believed a person’s initial act was believing in that grace, whereas the other group believed one first put grace into practice through works. Astonishingly, advocates of salvation by faith accomplished the most works in the nineteenth century (works of the Church and of charity). To think the Church was tom asunder, and thousands of Christians died, killing each other, because of such terrible misunderstandings (to which we could of course add others, such as the Virgin and the Saints).

At times breaches have occurred quite differently: a small group of Christians would realize the official Church was forgetting an important aspect of Revelation. For example, it is quite true that in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Protestantism, the Holy Spirit and eschatology were neglected. So these groups of Christians would decide to try to "return the Holy Spirit to his proper place," or "rediscover the importance of eschatology in theology and the spiritual life of the Christian." Their error consisted of making this truth the only important truth: a truth that constituted, by itself, a subject Stands aut cadentis Ecclesiae. They considered everything else secondary.

The official Churches committed a much more serious error: they failed to recognize what was right in such movements. Since the groups comprised only a minority, they were obliged to separate from the Church, becoming the Pentecostal Movement, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, etc. The "much more serious" error involved failing to apply a rule I find extraordinary: Major aut Saniorpars. It existed in the Church from the tenth to the thirteenth century, only to disappear in the fourteenth. When a decision was to be made in a Church Council, for example, a vote took place, but the majority was not always right! The ideal was to arrive at unanimity. Failing that, the group had to consider whether the minority represented a saniorpars: a wiser point of view. This process provoked delays, but resulted in a more just solution. People doubted that truth could be decided by a majority of votes! In reality, the Church should have examined whether these minorities were calling it back to essential truths. Instead, after their exclusion, such groups hardened their position, and ended up in the absurdities and extremism we know so well.

But can all this still be valid today? The Presbyterian Church, for example (the Calvinist church, or the Reformed Church of France), has now recognized again the importance of eschatology and the centrality of the Holy Spirit. Each time someone proposes a reconciliation of these churches, however, or wants to examine what divides us, stern refusals follow. Whose? The authorities’-all of them. What I have to say will meet with very poor acceptance, but the thing separating Churches is no longer theological, religious, or doctrinal questions. It is institutions, organizations, and authorities. The heads of these Churches do not want to lose their power. They see no way to unite their separate and different institutions. People prefer having the body of Christ tom to pieces rather than challenging our authorities, powers, and institutions.[13] Considering that the Churches yield to such feeble motivations, it is not surprising they lose their influence in this world!

The second aspect of reconciliation among us involves taking political positions, often within a single Church.[14] After 1940 we rediscovered in Protestantism (at least in France) that the Church could not isolate itself from problems in society. For instance, we found ourselves confronted with communism in 1944. What attitude should we adopt? Many French pastors and theologians who had been completely indifferent, before the war, suddenly found themselves with communist friends in the Resistance. As a result of such friendships, they assented to communist doctrine. Moreover, this process highlights an important characteristic of French Protestantism: relationships based on friendship or charity often lead our Protestant intellectuals to join an organization, in order to show they sympathize with the doctrine or philosophy of people to whom they want to be closely related. We find this again in the case of Islam.

Naturally, the "great" French theologians of that era (such as Pierre Maury, Marc Boegner, and Jean Bose) did not allow themselves to be influenced at all by this trend, but a great number followed the (moderate) example of Karl Barth, who said, rather simplistically: "Since the Soviet Union saved us from Hitlerism, we must reconsider our negative attitude." Thus Barth drew close to communism (he was, of course, ignorant of both Marxist doctrine and the reality of the Soviet regime).[15]

Beginning at that point, we have a split in the Reformed Church of France. On the one hand we find those who considered the only calling to be evangelism: making the Gospel known and enabling people to share in salvation in Jesus Christ. On the other, those who considered a Christian could now witness to his faith only through political action, which ought to establish a just society. In such a society, the poor would be given first place. This faction denied the Gospel could be received without social action, resulting in "the good news announced to the poor." The poor with no money, the proletariat, and only they were worthy of bearing the good news. Remarkably, this group managed to prevail, through utterly insidious means. Today, we can no longer deciare that we want to make the Gospel known by means of the Word.

Next we saw political positions taken at the time of the war in Algeria. The same intellectuals and theologians who had sided with the poor now acted on behalf of the Algerian Freedom Fighters, against France. The motive was the same: since the Arabs were poor and oppressed, one had to be on their side, against the rich French oppressors. This tendency continued as the group sided with the Palestinians (because they were the Poor, whereas the Israelis represented the United States, and thus the rich!). The trend continues today with respect to the immigrant workers (all Arabs), and the Palestinians. This Christian political movement has, of course, adopted Liberation Theology. But, more than that, it quickly subscribed to Marxist thought, and now favors Islam, emphasizing the "monotheism" of the two religions!

Of course, this trend that dominates the Protestant intelligentsia judges very harshly the Christians who confine themselves to the Gospel. These are considered reactionary, and unfaithful to God’s will, since they do not put themselves on the side of the Poor. The adopting of political positions has gone beyond earlier theological differences.

My greatest reproach of all these Christians who adopt a political stance is essentially that they are ignorant. That is what grieves me most: between 1940 and 1956, they knew nothing about Marxism. They did not try to find out what was really happening in the Soviet Union. I maintain that when a Christian takes a political stance he should reflect on everything: the means used and the future risks, as well as the doctrine that inspires the movement If you are for the Palestinians, you must study the PLO’s charter and evaluate the Israelis’ chances for survival if the Palestinians should win. If you favor Islam, you must begin by studying the Koran thoroughly.

I believe that these Christians are acting in good faith, and that they are sensitive to poverty, but they are utterly lacking in perception, dear thinking, and competence. An honest Christian with these deficiencies says nothing. Above all, he does not take himself (like those I am attacking here!) for the equivalent of the Old Testament prophets! The prophets not only listened faithfully to the Word of God, but also were well acquainted with political conditions in their time!

The experience of the last forty years should have given our false prophets a warning about their errors. But, since they take themselves for prophets, they see none of the damage done by the regimes they have supported. They continue to drag well-meaning Christians into other errors, and widen the splits they have produced in the Reformed Church of France!

Update on Ellul Publications

by Gary Lee

Eerdmans Publishing Co.

About a year ago, in the first issue of The Ellul Studies Forum, I reported on our forthcoming translations of several Ellul titles. Here is a brief progress report.

We have just published What I Believe (223 pages, doth, $19.95), Geoffrey Bromiley’s translation of Ce que je crois. Here Ellul treats several key general concepts (chapters indude "Life Has Meaning," "The Word," "Lifelong Love") as well as some crucial theological ideas ("The Seventh Day," "Universal Salvation," "Recapitulation") and an overview of history. Thus this work serves as a good introduction to Ellul’s thought

Joyce Hanks has recently submitted her translation of La raison d’etre: Meditation sur VEccUsiaste (English title uncertain). This is another of Ellul’s provocative and insightful biblical expositions; here he finally treats the biblical book that one might associate most closely with him. Publication is scheduled for 1990.

We will indeed publish the translation of Le bluff technologique, Ellul’s third massive volume on the role of technique in our world. As the title indicates, Ellul examines the technological bluff, that is, the illusions by which technique has fascinated and seduced us. Geoffrey Bromiley expects to finish the translation before the end of this year, and we should publish it either late in 1990 or early in 1991.

We are still in the process of finalizing the contract for Un chretien pour Israel, which is another demonstration of Ellul’s ability to blend theological, sociological, and historical analysis. Ellul has recently submitted a postscript to take into account the events in Israel that have transpired since he wrote the book(1986). We hope to publish it in 1991.

Ellul’sAnarc/ue et Christianisme is our most recent acquisition. Here Ellul looks at the relation between anarchy and Christianity from sociological and historical perspectives, and then examines a number of Biblical texts that provide the basis for the anarchic option. This book is similar to, though briefer than, Vemard Eller’s Christian Anarchy [Eerdmans, 1987], to which Ellul refers. Look for publication in 1991 or 1992.

Finally, one other book, though not written by Ellul, reflects his influence at a number of points: Marva Dawn Keeping the Sabbath Wholly. Marva combines solid Biblical exposition, insight from Jewish traditions, and practical reflections to guide the reader into a fuller appreciation of the meaning of the Sabbath. Available in July (232 pages, $10.95).

The Presence of the Kingdom - Back in Print

Helmersand Howard Publishers, (P.O. Box 7407, Colorado Springs, CO 80933) has just brought Jacques Ellul's The Presence of the Kingdom back into print. This edition has a new Preface by Ellul explaining what prompted him to write this book and an introduction by Dan Clendenin. Written early in his career, The Presence of the Kingdom is a remarkable blueprint, foreshadowing the massive scholarship that was to follow in over forty books. Virtually all the important themes of Ellul’s work are contained here in a "nutshell". If you do not have this classic on your book shelf, now is the time to order it. The price is $10.95, with professional discounts (20%) and examination copy discounts (50%) available. Call 719-520-1559 for more information.

Forum Response

A Reponse to Michael Bauman’s Review of Jesus and Marx

by Jacques Eilul

Translated by Michel Machado

My work has been so often criticized without being understood that I believed nothing could shock me. However, I must confess that Mr. Bauman’s article [Issue #2, Nov. 88] first provoked irritation, then stupefaction, and finally I thought it to be a joke! Indeed, I found it (and I use Mr. Bauman’s terms), "monstruous", "grotesque." I never read such accumulated stupidity and lack of comprehension. It is evident that Mr. Bauman knows nothing of my work. He does not know that I was for forty years professor of history of institutions and economics and that I am aware of the works of Hayek, Schumpeter and others. Mr. Bauman knows nothing of Marx’s theory and of the prominent Marxist theoreticians. Setting aside his ignorance, I am equally disturbed that an obtuse theology professor can so violently judge a book that he has clearly misunterstood and I doubt even seriously, read.

Mr. Bauman’s atrocious misconceptions include the following:

  1. He accused me of saying that Christians ought to have a feeling of culpability because of what socialism revealed. But, I never said that! I said, in fact, "Many have had a bad consience"... I report a fact, nowhere have I said that Christians must have a bad conscience.

  2. I never wrote that justice was equality. I have often written to the contrary. Mr. Bauman should begin to apply to himself the rule that he set in the first line of the article - "The first task of an academic author is to understand his subject."

  3. He accuses me of saying that Communists are on the side of the poor. Here again, he missed it. I don’t justify the Communists, I do not say that they help the poor. I say that wherever the poor revolt, Communists are there. If Mr. Bauman had known the Leninist prods, if he had read Lenin’s work, he would have known that that is their tactic. Clearly, I do not entertain the simplistic idea that Communists help the poor; they use them in order to come to power. Only for appearance and public opinion sake do Communists care for the poor.

  4. His inability to understand is further revealed when he believes that I could have said that our unjust society is the result of twenty centuries of Christianity. I wrote clearly that this is the accusation hurled at Christianity by Communists and that if many ceased to be Christians it is because this argument was accepted.

  5. Concerning my statement that the Communist tactics exactly correspond to Communism’s objective, Mr. Bauman, again understood nothing since he doesn’t know the clever tactics and grand strategy of Lenin. In a stupid fashion, he transforms it: "the Communist discourse is contrary to what Communists practice." But discourse is not the same thing as tactics!

  6. Mr. Bauman attacks me because I said that Belo’s choice is respectable. For myself, a priori, I respect the choices of all, but I didn’t say that I accepted them. If Mr. Bauman knew something about the matter, he would have known that I wrote one of my books in order to prove that Belo’s position is wrong, not in conformity to the Gospel. Moreover Belo clearly is ignorant of Marxist doctrine.

  7. Mr. Bauman makes numerous misinterpretations like this one: He attacks me violently because I wrote that "Caesar is the creator of money". From his learned ignorance, he said that money existed before the State (I wrote twenty pages on the origins of money in my six volumes! History of the Institutions). But I never wrote what Mr. Bauman thinks to have read! I wrote that Caesar makes [i.e. coins] money (fait les prices de monnaie). Mr. Bauman ignores the difference between create [i.e., originate) and make [Le., coin]. Besides, very early, as soon as metal ingots were used as money they were indeed marked and usually it was the political power who did it.

  8. I could go on enumerating the stupidities and confusions of this article, but I will insist only upon two very important questions. First, it is "evident" for Mr. Bauman that Christianity is a religion. I was thinking that since Kierkegaard and Karl Barth, the distinction and even the opposition between religion (which is a fabrication of man in order to satisfy his religious need) and the Revelation of the God of Abraham and Jesus (which doesn’t not correspond to the religious desire of man), was clear and well accepted (at least by 90% of European theologians). Evidently, our theology professor knows nothing of Kierkegaard or Barth! From a sociological standpoint, he assimilates Revelation to religion!

    My second point concerns my definition of ideology. The "excellent" Mr. Bauman finds it scandalous and unjustifiable. This entails three remarks. First, he seems to ignore that there exist at least fifty definitions of the ideology. Every author has is own and the one of Adorno is not Belo’s or Aron’s, or Lukak’s, etc.. I proposed a definition after having said that there were many others. My definition corresponds to the one accepted by most French political scholars. I counsel Mr. Bauman to read, for example, the different articles of the Encyclopaedia Universalis concerning ideologies, where he will learn that the matter is not so simplistic as he thinks. What is apparent from his article is his inability to distinguish among Theory, Doctrine and Ideology! For example, he argues that I am mistaken in saying that often an ideology arose to defend a previous praxis devoid of ideology. (He doesn’t know, for instance, that Capitalism was constituted since the XVI century, without the help of any ideology). I am supposed to be mistaken in saying that the liberal ideology appeared to defend Capitalism against the Socialist ideology. What an error he is uttering! Of course, Smith’s The Wealth of the Nations was published long before Marx’s Das Kapita - Bauman’s response is absurd because, here, we speak about doctrine. Liberal doctrine appeared before Socialist theory. Socialist ideology, however, appeared since 1815 in order to attack Capitalist structure. This was before any Liberal ideology existed.

  9. He accused me of not having cited, in this debate Hayek, Schumpeter, Herme, Say, Bastiat, etc... But I don’t understand why I should mention these in a debate about Marxism and Christianity in which they are not relevant. I have not quoted the prominent Marxist classics, either. I wanted to focus on current debate and I quoted only current authors, (with the exception of Proudhon and Bakunin).

  10. Finally I maintain:

    a) that although it raised the level of life of populations and produced much more from an economic standpoint, liberal capitalism created a much poorer proletariat than before;

    b) that our affluent nations create an increasing poverty in the third world;

    c) that nineteenth century Christianity played the role of an ideology of justification for the wrongs of Capitalism;

    d) But that Marxism will not resolve any of these problems and that Christians must not ally themselves with the Communists.

This was evident in my book. In short, Mr. Bauman understood nothing I had to say. I pity his theology students if he misunderstands the Biblical text in the same fashion. His misunderstanding reflects a theology of the last century, the preconceived ideas of the Constan-tinian heresy, and a desiccated social conservatism.

Anarchism and Christianity

The Paradox of Anarchism and Christianity

by Jacques Ellul

We express our thanks to Gary Lee and Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. for permission to reprint a brief selection from Jacques Elluls, Jesus and Maix, (Eerdmans, 1988), The following are excerpts from the concluding chapter.

Perhaps it seems odd to attempt a reconciliation of anarchism and Christianity, since the idea that they are utterly irreconcilable enemies is so well established. Doesn’t anarchism repeatedly cry "no God and no Master"? ..„ Looking at the question from the opposite angle, we see that Christianity clearly not only respects authority, but presupposes that authorities exist Everyone believes Christianity to be a doctrine of order.... From both sides, then, the reconciliation of anarchism and Christianity seems excluded.... Without a doubt the official Church, transformed into a power, taught the opposite of biblical teaching.... Essentially... both the Old and New Testaments take exception to all political power. No power can claim to be legitimate in itself. Political power and organization are necessities in society but only necessities. They attempt repeatedly to take God’s place, since magistrates and kings invariably consider themselves the incarnation of authority. We must continually challenge, deny and object to this power. It becomes acceptable only when it remains on a humble level, when it is weak, serves the good _. and genuinely transforms itself into a servant....

Usually, however, this principle is stated the other way: the state is legitimate except when it becomes tyrannical, unjust, violent, etc. In reality, since the state is illegitimate, it should be destroyed, except when it acts as servant of all..., effectively protecting the good....

The only Christian political position consistent with revelation is the negation of power: the radical, total refusal of its existence, a fundamental questioning of it, no matter what form it may take. I repeat this statement not so Christians will turn toward some sort of spiritualism, political ignorance, or apolitical position - certainly not! On the contrary, as Christians we must participate in the political world and the world of action, but in order to deny them, to oppose them by our conscious, well-founded refusal Only this refusal can challenge and occasionally impede the unlimited growth of power. Thus Christians can take their place only beside anarchists; they can never join the Marxists, for whom the state is unacceptable only to the extent that it is bourgeois.

Do Christians contribute anything specific or special to anarchism? ... Anarchists live in an illusion, believing that it is possible actually to abolish power and all its sources.... Today we can no longer believe in one of the absolute tenets of anarchist faith: the inevitability of progress.... We must not become discouraged, then, if our anarchist declaration fails to lead to an anarchist society.... [However] when we shake the edifice, we produce a crack, a gap in the structure, in which a human being can briefly find his freedom, which is always threatened.... I can hear the disillusioned anarchist: "Is that all we are doing?" Yes: all that; through our refusal, we keep the trap from closing all the way, for today. We can still breathe out in the open. The Christian must enable the anarchist to make the transition from a contemptuous "Is that all?" to an "All that," filled with hope....

I believe this two-edge Christian contribution of realism and hope to be essential for anarchism. Anarchism’s need for Christianity shows the possibility of a practical harmony, which could accompany the dear agreement of the two on the theoretical level This possibility contrasts with the fundamental contradiction of Christianity and Marxism, and the extraordinary uselessness of cooperation between them. I must clarify, however, that in this essay I am not trying to find a new concor-dism. I do not mean to imply that anarchist thought expresses the Christian political orientation, nor that Christians should adopt an anarchist orientation. In other words, we must not fall into the same error with anarchism that has been made with respeqt to Marxism!

I have tried to show, contrary to what is usually believed, (1) that no radical contradiction exists between anarchism and the concrete consequences of Christian faith in the sociopolitical area, whereas there is a contradiction between Marxism and the implications of the faith; (2) that anarchism does not imply as Marxism does, the elimination of Christian specificity; (3) finally, that within the context of modem society and our concrete historical situation, the determining and decisive problem is that of the universal power of the state™. Communism has shown itself incapable of responding to this challenge. On the contrary, each time it comes to power, it merely reinforces the state. Refusing a synthesis of Christianity and Marxism does not amount to "preaching submission"... On the contrary it means entering a different revolutionary way, another way of questioning that is infinitely more radical and profound.

Eller’s Crowning Achievement

by Hu Elz

Within the past year or so... the Federation of French Anarchists commissioned Ellul to write for them a book, Anarchie et Chris-tianisme ..„ The book was purposed particularly for partisans of political anarchy, who would not have much knowledge as to how Christianity relates - although it could be just as useful for Christians who have almost no knowledge as to how anarchy might relate to their faith. Ellul is probably the only person ever, who has been equipped to do as full justice to one side of the equation as the other. He is a top authority either way.

In the book Ellul opens by recounting his personal history regarding the two traditions. His faith as a Christian believer has always been his primal commitment; yet, in his political interests, anarchy has long had a fascination for him.... The difficulty is that he has never found a way of getting the two together - natural enemies as the two seem to be.

Traditionally, Christianity and anarchism have shown deep animosity toward each other, with what surely is good reason. Anarchy starts from the premise that all of society’s effort to structure itself and regiment the citizenry to an established order - all this works to the detriment rather than the enhancement of true humanity. The anarchical goal, then, is to break up these "orders," that, in the ensuing "disorder," individuals might find the freedom to live as truly human humans.

In response, Christianity has not been particularly keen on the idea, seeing anarchy’s "disorder" as nothing but a threat to "the ordering of God" and "the godly ordering of the world" to which it is committed. The antagonism has been as much as absolute. Most anarchists have been atheists. After all, the idea ofa 'Lord* (The Great Orderer in the Sky) is quite antithetical to what they have in mind. Further, they have seen (correctly enough) that the institutional church has always been on the side of tighter and tighter ordering rather than looser and looser. Ellul set himself some problem in trying to make those two speak with a common voice.

Ellul’s book testifies as to how long he has been worrying the matter. As the years went by, he found more and more evidence of an anarchical strain within Scripture, but he still didn’t see how this could contribute to getting the two traditions together. The breakthrough came then, he says [p. 7], in reading Vemard Eller’s book, Christian Anarchy (Eerdmans, 1987).

Vemard, of course, is happy to have been of help - though the situation is very much a weird one. The truth is that anything and everything Vemard may know of Christian Anarchy he learned in the first place from none other than Jacques Ellul. The first chapter of Vemard’s book (in which he defines the concept and establishes its categories) is based directly upon the thought of Ellul - and particularly upon one of his earlier essays regarding Christianity and anarchism. All Vemard was doing was quoting Ellul back to himself.

Actually, this is a phenomenon that probably happens time and again. When I hear my own thoughts read back to me by another person (in this situation in which I am hearing rather thanspeaking,') I can often hear things I was not fully aware of having spoken. But if Ver-nard never did anything except echo Ellul’s crucial words back to himself, that is more than enough to constitute a crowning achievement.

Probably there was a bit more involved. Vemard came at the problem from a new angle. Rather than trying simply to combine apparent incompatibles, he came up with a new category - a third category that combined at least something of the earlier two and yet was not identical with anything of either of them. In the new two-word term "Christian Anarchy" neither of the words means quite what it meant when standing alone. Each word modifies the other in the process of being paired.

”Anarchy"... assumed that, once set free, people would freely discover for themselves the minimal, instinctive ordering that would truly serve their humanity. But.... "Human regimentation" never manages to limit itself - always gets out of hand and goes demonic.

So "Christian Anarchy"... [uses] that disorder’s freeing us to give ourselves wholly over to the Ordering of God.... This new regime would not be heavy-handedly impositionai (as all human regimes have to be). God’s regime of love and light, is one that never uses force but uses patience and mercy in winning people into that one Order that is right for them.

So Christians need have no fear of anarchy - if it’s Christian Anarchy. And anarchists need have no fear of Christianity - if it’s Anarchical Christianity. Ellul can combine his two interests - if it is done by going to a new, third category rather than by trying to meld two old incompatibles.

Vemard’s crowning achievement proceeds from that point. Ellul, in his book (pp. 12-13), confesses that, in tracing the strain of Christian Anarchy through church history, he had thought simply of renegade individuals such as Tertullian, Francis of Assisi, and a few others. But here again, Vemard’s book taught him something he undoubtedly knew for himself - if he had been thinking.

It’s hard to say how accurate an understanding of the 16th century Anabaptists... Ellul has had up to this point; these people still do not get a very good press on the Continent But Ellul is explicit in saying that Vemard is right, that the Anabpatists were not *a-political Christian secessionists"... they were true Christian anarchists.

It’s hard to know, too, how much Ellul has heard of the Blum-hardts, the 19th-century German fatber-and-son pastoral team that was so influential with the young Karl Barth. But here again Ellul is explicit in seconding Vemard’s motion that the Blumhardts "formulated a strictly anarchistic Christianity."

There is no difficulty at all in determining that Ellul has been up on Kierkegaard since goodness knows when.... But apparently Ellul bad never thought of SK in connection with anarchy. However, a nudge from Vemard’s book was enough to get Kierkegaard in.

Finally, it is no secret that Ellul, for a long time, has been strongly influenced by the work of Karl Barth. However, there were aspects of Barth’s thought that had Ellul convinced that Barth could not be a Christian Anarchist. Yet, regarding Vemard’s long chapter on Barth, Ellul now testifies that that demonstration has convinced him: Barth will be of that number when the anarchistic saints come marching in.

Christian Anarchy

by Vernard Eller

University of La Verne, La Verne, California

Recently, while I was teaching a graduate seminar on the subject, a student came up with the terminology that enables me to express the gist of Christian Anarchy in fairly short order. She made a distinction between God’s "Plan A" and God’s "Plan B." Crucial, then, to any understanding of Christian Anarchy is, first, the seeing of the distinction and then the maintaining of it through every step of ethical reflection.

Tbe ... point is made with ... relevancy in the story of Israel’s demand for a monarchal government (1 Samuel 8ft).... The overarching question is: "Are the governing authorities... of God?" The answer which, from the biblical standpoint, simply will not do - this is the answer we most often get: namely, "The good moral regimes which we find attractive are of God but bad, immoral regimes are of the devil.

Rather, to our question, the first and decisive answer must be: "Well, the evidence is clear that none of them is recognized, or plays any part, in God’s "Plan A." When Israel chose to go for a human ruler, God made it clear that this was nothing other than a rejection of his "Plan A" and indeed of his very self. His "Plan A" prescribes that he retain all (all) the reins of human government (and, indeed, cosmic government) in his own hands - that he perform the necessary governing of creation on his own, with surrogate orderers being entirely superfluous. "Plan A” intends that the government of all things rest with the one true and competent governor. That God be everything to everyone, as 1 Cor. 15:28 so aptly puts it.

Thus, rightly, the last thing any human government can claim for itself is that it is of God” ~ when, obviously, what it actually represents is the rejection of God. This is an absolute judgment that recognizes absolutely no distinction between one claimant and another - whether it be good, bad, or indifferent No, to the extent it claims the authority to govern, to that extent it represents a rejection of God’s own governance and a defiance of bis "Plan A" (which does not call for any power-sharing on his part).

It is... only under "Plan B" that governing authorities come into the picture as being willed of God. In effect, God says that, if we have rejected bis perfect governing authority of "Plan A," it is downright essential that we have governing authorities of some sort. We will just plain have to make do and put up with the imperfect and sinful authorities of human devising. However, no one ought to think that these belong to God’s "Plan A"; they are only tbe poor, poor substitute demanded by "Plan B."

Accordingly, in our biblical account, God helps Israel choose Saul as the most promising "Plan B" king for them... Yet, under "Plan B," while trying to use human governing authorities for as much good as he can get out of them, God also is the one who takes the initiative in unseating Saul and trying David in his place. The entire history of Israel’s monarchy is that of governing authorities who aren’t good for much but who, I guess, do fulfill God’s Plan-B intention of keeping things from going completely to smash.

Now Christians, along with their ethics, are going to have the most ethically difficult time imaginable - living, as they do, suspended between "Plan A" and "Plan B." For themselves... Christians are totally committed to "Plan A.” They try to make God so completely Lord of their lives that, for them, no other lords or authorities even exit. It takes all of their time to praise, love, and obey their Jesus. And when human-sinful governing authorities try to intrude themselves into the Christian’s value-structure, they can be seen and treated as nothing other than competitors with and thus enemies of God.

Yet Christian ethics can’t be left at this single focus on "Plan A." God himself demands that we go dialectical by reminding us that he, also, is the author of "Plan B"; it too is part of his will for humanity. It is true that those governing authorities are enemies of God; yet, just as truly, they represent the government God’s wayward children simply must have if they are to survive long enough for him to get them back into salvation. These do, in a strange sense, represent the government of God.

So, if Christians love this wayward world as God loves it, they will have to be willing to involve themselves even in the makeshift ungodlinesses of "Plan B."

In Christ, Christians have been given the freedom to participate helpfully in "Plan B." However, we have blown that opportunity completely when we join "Plan B," treat the governing authorities as though they were now agents of God’s saving work, play it as though "Plan A" has been superseded by "Plan B."

What we call "Christian Anarchy," then, is simply this very tricky business of retaining our Plan-A opinion of the governing authorities as rebellious enemies of God - retaining this opinion (as God himself does) even while using these same authorities (as God himself does) for the Plan-B survival of the race.

Translators Needed

Occasionally the Forum will be publishing articles submitted in foreign languages. We need volunteers who are capable and willing to provide translations. Usually the articles will be four or five double spaced typed pages. The maximum size is ten double spaced pages. If you are willing to contribute your services in this way it will help to keep the cost of subscriptions down and will be greatly appreciated by your colleagues. We are especially grateful to Joyce Hanks, of Scranton University, and Michel Machado, of the University of South Florida, for their translations of Ellul’s essays for this issue. If you can help us out please contact the Editor.

What I Believe

by Jacques Ellul

Now available from
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Call 800-633-9326

Advisory Board Appointed

As the Ellul Studies Forum enters its second year of publication, we are pleased to announce the formation of an Editorial Advisory Board. The editor shall depend on them for advice as to themes and topics for the Forum and for occasional editorial comment. The members of the advisory board are as follows:

Dan Clendenin, William Tyndale College

Cliff Christians, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

David Gill, New College Berkeley

Joyce Hanks, University of Scranton

Carl Mitcham, Polytechnic University

Gabriel Vahanian, University of Strasbourg

The Presence of the Kingdom

by Jacques Ellul

Now available from Helmers & Howard

Call 719-520-1559

Book Reviews

Jacques Ellul, Anarchic et Christianisme

Atelier de Creation Libertaire, Lyon, France, 1988,123 pp. Vernard Eller, Christian Anarchy, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Mi. USA, 1987, 267 pp.

Reviewed by Katharine Temple

Anarchism, that underrated and submerged critique of modem society, has been a longstanding, if not always overt theme in the writings of Jacques Ellul. It goes back at least as far as his time with Emmanuel Mounier and Esprit in the 1930s, and his most explicit formulation came in Autopsy of Revolution, a classic of anarchist thought Put succinctly, that school (which is a critique of both Capitalism and Marxism from within Socialism) points to the increasing power of the state as the focal point for social analysis.

Theologically, M. Ellul’s anarchism points to the same power of the state as a false god or a locus for the incarnation of the principalities and powers - a motif in Apocalypse. How he brings together his two types of writing has long been a question, and he has always insisted that they stand in a dialectical rather than a systematic relationship. On the subject of anarchism, he has shown what he means, biographically, in In Season, Out of Season and, analytically, in the last chapter of Jesus and Mane and now inAnarchie et Christianisme.

Although nothing substantially new appears in this slim volume (apart from reflections on 1 Peter), various strands from previous works are pulled together and that alone makes it worthwhile. Here and there some irritants surface, such as some comments about liberation theology or Islam without the more complete arguments he has given elsewhere, or certain statements about the prevalence of socialism that is not self-evident in English-speaking countries. These, however, are relatively few and far between (albeit on-going) points. Overall, it is a treat to encounter his grasp of the anarchist tradition, his fluency with the Bible and Church history, and his emphasis on Christian realism.

InAnarchie et Christianisme, M. Ellul commends Vemard Eller’s book, and also I had read some articles on his own [Eller’s] and M. Ellul’s theological roots, which are as little known and as much shunted aside as anarchism is in social thought. As a result, I was looking forward to Christian Anarchy, especially as Mr. Eller writes from this country where, to put it mildly, anarchism has never really "taken." In any case, maybe I looked forward too much and expected too much.

Let me say, first of all, that I was not disappointed in the story of his theological sources - -the radical Reformation, Kierkegaard, the Blumhardts, Karl Barth, Jacques Ellul - -although his explanations seem marred by the tone that hints broadly that really nobody else has had such thoughts as his. How could he not mention William Stringfellow whodid so much to make Karl Barth and Jacques Ellul known here, or Dorothy Day who introduced anarchism through the pages of The Catholic Worker! Nor do I disagree about the need for hard questions to be put to the Christian left or peace movements, although, again, other voices have also spoken. Why, for instance, no account of Stanley Hauerwas or John Howard Yoder? And, finally, the matter of whether he is a-political or not (a charge he seems to relish) seems, by and large, beside the point

My disappointments lie elsewhere. Unfortunately, throughout the book, Mr. Eller falls into generalizations and simplifications that start to sound like a parody of some of the complaints made about M. Ellul.

This imprecision is most marked in the title theme of anarchism, which does have a coherent meaning, content and history, no matter how unsystematic these may be. Mr. Eller makes a point of saying (p. 4) that he knows nothing about anarchist writers, nor does he know much about Marxist analysis apart from impressions (p. 60) either. And so the stage isset to waver between "re-inventing the wheel" or a Humpty-Dumpty sense that "a word means exactly what I say it does, neither more nor less." In either mode, the result is not conducive to realism about what is going on, to which we are called to respond. Furthermore, his historical references are, at best, uneven.* The history of biblical exegesis and theological understanding is long and complex; it does no service to dismiss whole traditions, century after century, with a patronizing wave of the band. Indeed, we need iconoclasts to expose errors and shibboleths, but such a vocation requires more, not less insight and detailed knowledge than has prevailed.

Beyond these points, my major disappointment lies in his picture of responses being made by Christians today. My criticism may sound harsh, particularly as "the movement" can often drive me to distraction almost as much as it seems to annoy Mr. Eller. Still, I think we must avoid the temptation to judge anything anybody is doing with broad, unnuanced strokes and at its worst The critique is necessary, but how is it to be made? We must remember that caricature is not constructive, fraternal criticism, while sarcasm means "a tearing away at the flesh." In the interests of clarity and charity, we are not allowed to indulge in such approaches.

Take but one example, tax resistance is one of his main targets. In these sections, I found myself wondering "Whom is he talking about?" There are not all that many tax resisters around, but some do exist and they have seriousness and an awareness about the bonds among taxes, war and materialism — a recognition and thoughtfulness that come close to M. Ellul’s discussion but that could not be guessed at from Mr. Eller. He does not bother to address the diverse philosophical biases and approaches among those who do so choose. Some are anarchist, most are not; some are believers, many are not; almost all focus on war taxes. None of these distinctions enters the book, and he completely ignores the form of tax resistance most consistent with anarchism, voluntary poverty (in keeping with Peter Maurin’s - the co-founder of The Catholic Worker - dictum: "The less you have of Caesar’s, the less you have to tender unto him"). Such failures from an author who wishes to shed light on the topic only further the division and shallowness, only give scandal rather than edify.

In the end, it comes down to the requirement of realism. The lacks in social analysis and dialectics (the very thinking that lies at the heart of M. Ellul’s account of anarchism) combine to undo the contributions Vemard Eller could have made in Christian Anarchy.

★Examples of this unevenness come in his search for Biblical interpretations. On the one hand, his discussion of Philemon, for example, is enlightening, while his treatment of the Temple and synagogue in Jewish tradition, as another example, should have been edited out as an affront

Jesus and Marx: From Gospel to Ideology, by Jacques Ellul

Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988, 187 pp., 12.95.

by Daniel B. Clendenin

William Tyndale College, Farmington Hills, Ml

At age eighteen Ellul borrowed a copy of Marx’s Das Kapital from the library and, upon reading it, experienced a conversion to a global interpretation of the world. About the same time he also underwent what he describes as a "brutal conversion" to Jesus Christ Unable to eliminate either totalitarian truth, and unable to merge them into a synthesis, for the past sixty years Ellul has sought to hold them in "radical contradiction" (p. 63), by which he means a critical and mutual dialectical tension such as characterizes all of his thought In Jesus and Marx he offers a withering critique of the fashionable tendency which merges the two and declares that the only authentic Christian praxis is that which commits itself to Marxism. Understanding Ellul, though, demands an effort to enter into his dialectical mode of thinking which holds the two in critical tension. Readers must beware of making two errors.

First, despite this scathing critique, Ellul does not throw out the baby with the bath water. Marxist thought has challenged Christianity in a number of positive ways (pp.5-10). It focuses attention on the need for social justice (which is not to say it brings justice!). It recognizes the role of the poor in the historical process and enters their world (even if not for good). Marxists attain a "coherence between thought and action, theory and praxis," which shames the church’s disparity between word and deed. By focusing on the material factors of history, Marxists challenge the evangelical tendency toward a disembodied spiritualization of Christianity which is little more than a privatized experience. Finally, the zeal and militant spirit of Marxists challenge the church to become what we should be. Indeed, they take seriously the last of Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach', the goal is not to interpret the world but to change it.

But readers must avoid the opposite mistake of reading Ellul as soft on Marxist Christians. His critique is at two levels. First, there is Marx himself. Marx could never answer existential questions of life, love and death; his view of people as merely economic beings (homo economicus) is reductionistic; and his belief in the inevitable progress of history is naive. Thus, Marx is not scientific but passionate (and that is why Ellul likes him). Most of Jesus and Marx, though, occurs at a second level and is directed to those Christians who claim to follow Marx. According to Ellul, their words and deeds show they are neither Marxist nor Christian. In chapters 2-6 Ellul levels an excoriating attack on such people, with special attention paid to Fernando Belo’s A Materialist Reading of the Gospel of Mark (Orbis, 1981) and G. Casalis’s Correct Ideas Don’t Fall from the Skies: Elements for an Inductive Theology (Orbis, 1984). We can summarize five salient points made by Ellul.

First, Marxist Christians display an alarming degree of conformity to sociological trends. Thinking to be "progressive" in their positions, they are really just the opposite: eager-beaver Johnny-come-latelies who "conform culturally and intellectually to the rest of society" (p. 21). This guts Christianity of all content. Thus we witness an incredible sociological phenomenon: Christians who have every reason to oppose Communists and almost no reason to join them continue, like moths to a flame, to find it an irresistible attraction (p. 34).

Second, liberation theologians must ask the question: liberation for whose benefit? The so-called wars of liberation from capitalism and imperialism have resulted in worse dictators, more outrageous oppression and shameless brutality, more prisons, greater economic disparity, than any ever perpetuated by the West (p. 58). Given the fact that Communism "has never incarnated itself in anything but dictatorships," a Christian "would have to be crazy" to join them (p. 137). Third, where is the praxis of most of these theologians? Except for a small minority, most of these liberationists are bourgeois professors whose only praxis "consists of giving lectures, writing articles, traveling to congresses or colloquia, attending demonstrations, signing petitions and manifestos, and organizing seminars" (p. 128).

Fourth, when Marxist Christians accuse others of a blind reading of the Biblical text and claim to offer the first truly objective and "scientific" exegesis, they reveal their own pre-understandings. They fail to apply the myth of hermeneutical objectivity to themselves. In fact, this theology which claims to be inductive and based on the priority of praxis is in reality just another deductive theology with its own uncritically accepted assumptions. Finally, Ellul takes to task "service theology" which contends that meeting human need alone on the horizontal level is all that counts. Considering Matthew 9:2-13 as a case study, he shows how just the opposite is true: the vertical relationship of confession and worship must come first

Jesus and Marx is ultimately rooted in a broader Ellul theme: that the Gospel revelation is fundamentally iconoclastic and inimicable to all power, and especially political power (which is the worst kind). Thus, the book ends with a chapter on anarchy, "the only acceptable stance in the modem world" (p. 156n). By anarchy Ellul does not mean social chaos. "All my position means is that the present center of conflict is the state, so that we must adopt a radical position with respect to this unfeeling monster" (ibid.).

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The Thought of Jacques Ellul

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The Anarchist Dimension of Liberation Theology by Linda Damico

This study argues that the political roots of Liberation theology lie primarily in the Anarchist tradition rather than the Marxist.

Now available from Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. Call 212*302-6740

Bibliographic Notes on Theology and Technology

Bibliographic Report on Some Recent British Discussions Regarding Christianity and Technology

by Carl Mitcham

In early November 1988 I bad occasion to visit in Chalfont-St-Giles, England, with Peter Davies and bis family and to be introduced to a number of discussions among Christian engineers regarding the problems of technology. Davies, after working for seven years as an engineer with Jaguar Ltd., took a leave to earn an M.Sc. in Industrial Robotics and Manufacturing Automation, with the intention of returning to industry. But in the process he became concerned about the use of technology in society and now, as a Ph.D. candidate in management at Brunel University is writing a dissertation on the philosophy of technology.

Science and Faith Newsletter

When asked whether there was any group of persons like himself, technical professionals concerned about the relation between engineering and ethics, Davies first introduced me to the Research Scientists Christian Fellowship, the aim of which is "to influence the whole climate of thought about science and Christian faith so that it becomes generally known that there is no conflict but that rather the two can work in harmony” (from a descriptive pamphlet). Interestingly enough, however, a significant number of the contributions to the RSCF newsletter, Science and Faith (published once or twice a year), in effect point up thexxistence of real conflicts.

For instance, in Newsletter No. 5 (1985), reporting on the 1985 American Scientific Affiliation/RSCF conference at Oxford, Donald MacKay notes how different speakers identified challenges to Christians in the new sciences of the person (biomedicine, psychopathology, etc.), artificial intelligence, tensions between serving and manipulating, and the need for numerous conceptual clarifications (pp. 10 ff).

In Newsletter No. 6 (June 1986) D. Gareth Jones conducts "An Odyssey through the New Reproductive Technologies" (in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, and surrogate motherhood) and again finds numerous conflicts with Christian ethical principles (pp. 24-49).

Newsletter No. 7 (December 1986) contains a critique of the animal rights movement by David Williams (pp. 11-31) arguing that although animals dcuiot have rights human beings (particularly Christians) have duties and responsibilities toward animals. There is also a report on an RSCF conference on "The Ethics of Animal Use" (pp. 3-10).

By contrast, Newsletter No. 8 (August 1987) is devoted primarily to Donald MacKay’s enthusiastic outline of "Christian Priorities in Science" (pp. 10-26). For MacKay, science grows out of Christian belief in an ordered creation and love for humanity, and when true to itself in both theory and practice is essentially Christian. MacKay even criticizes "such a champion of biblical Christianity as C.S. Lewis, who justified bis anti-technological bias by identifying human dominion over nature with hubris," for being too much influenced by Greco-medieval and Stoic ideals of "conforming the soul to reality" (p. 16), and defends as Christian the technological goal of "fashioning the future" (pp. 18 ff).

Newsletter No. 9 (May 1988) announces that RSCF is changing its name to Christians in Science and that the Science and Faith Newsletter will be joined with Faith and Thought (of The Victoria Institute) to form a new and more ambitious journal called Science and Christian Belief.

Engineers Group Newsletter

A second newsletter, more immediately devoted to technology, is that of what is called the Engineers Group. Here the consideration of tensions with Christian thought and practice are much more pronounced.

For example, the Winter 1984 contents includes: John Davis’ "Engineering for God or Mammon?" (pp. 2-6), Kathy Carter’s "God and the Computer" (pp. 7-8), John Phillips’ "Computers in Practice" (pp. 9-14), and a letter from Tom Hutt on "Engineering and the Task of Developing the Christian Mind" (pp. 17-19). As the editor notes in a forward, "each comes to a similar conclusion" that "we must... avoid setting up Hi-Tech as our idol" (p. 1). But each article also in effect points out that this is exactly what technology tends to do.

The Summer 1985 Engineers Group Newsletter contains an article by TMan Jiggins (until recently principal lecturer in Applied Nuclear Physics at the Polytechnic of the South Bank, London) pointing out the ways in which technology destroys community. "Power corrupts," he writes, "and computer power has a peculiar corruptibility" (p. 7). "We live in a progressively artificial world and to an increasing degree our expectations are being moulded by technological values" (p. 9). By contrast, Martin Wood defends the connection of "Computers and Christianity." In the same issue Nigel Rooms comments on Davis’ article from Winter 1984 and Richard Franceys writes on problems of "Engineering for Development" while Michael Ducken-field calls for the formation of a Christian working party to apply a Christian ethics to technology.

The Winter 1985-1986 Newsletter contains Paul Marshall’s "Is Technology Out of Control?" (pp. 6-12, arguing that although it can be perverted by sin, technology is necessary for the exercise of Christian stewardship), Gary Colwell’s "Technology and False Hope: A Christian Look at the False Assumptions Behind Technology’s Optimism" (pp. 13-22), an address to the Conference of Mennonites in Canada in 1984. Indicative of the close association of the Engineers Group and the RSCF, this issue includes Gordon Clarke’s "The Machine Starts," a counterpoint to E.M. Forster’s "The Machine Stops," which also appears in Science and Faith (December 1986).

The major piece in the Autumn 1986 issue is David W. Aycock’s "Christian Objections to High Technology: Analyzing the Resistances" (pp. 30-54). According to Aycock of the University Counseling Center at Taylor University in Indiana, USA Christians must work to overcome psychological factors that are sources of negativity and keep them from contributing more effectively to the rational assessment of technology in the light of scriptural principles.

The Engineers Group Newsletter for Autumn 1987 contains a statement of the "Aims and Objects of the Engineers Group" as part of the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF). These are:

”To develop a creative Christian perspective upon engineering and technology

”To help one another maintain a consistently Christian stance throughout our work as engineers

”To foster a constructive Christian influence in engineering

..., [and]

”To provide support and encouragement for missionary engineers and students..(p. 4).

This issue also reprints MacKay’s "Christian Priorities in Science" from Science and Faith (1987) and includes Mark Williams’ "Education for Balanced Attitudes towards Computer Technology" (pp. 35-41).

In the Summer 1988 Newsletter Michael J. Duckenfield asks "Is Maximum Efficiency Always Best?" (pp. 7-10) while John T. Houghton, FRS, Director General of the Meteorological Office, reviews Christian attitudes toward technological progress. According to Houghton, the Christian should lobby government to direct technical change toward worthwhile ends, make sure all facts are considered when making decisions, send "technical missionaries" to developing countries, make better use of new communications technologies to spread the Gospel, make better use of leisure, and "in emphasizing the importance of spiritual as opposed to material values,... demonstrate a positive approach to technological progress and material advances, rather than a withdrawal from their possibilities" (p. 19).


On balance both these publications - both of which regularly contain letters and short reviews - exhibit a persistent tension between seeing science and technology as realms of Christian fulfillment and sources of Christian struggle. All but a few of the most positive articles identify problems; and most of those that stress problems also admit to some truly Christian achievements and promises. Jacques Ellul, for instance, is probably equally praised (as insightful and prophetic) and blamed (as pessimistic and lacking in faith or real understanding of science and technology) for his criticisms of technology.

What is most evident in these publications isa consistent attempt by practicing Christians who are also scientists and engineers to relate their faith and their work. Standing back a bit from the particular difficulties discussed, one cannot help but sense that the persistence of difficulties in itself may be a sign of the times.

Readers are invited to contribute to this ongoing bibliographic column. Please send books or articles to be noted, or notes themselves, to:
Carl Mitcham
Philosophy & Technology Studies Center
Polytechnic University
333 Jay Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Call for Manuscripts

Peter Lang Publishing

Peter Lang Publishing (New York/Bem) is searching for bold and creative manuscripts for their new monograph series on Comparative Religious Ethics and Social Policy, edited by Darrell J. Fasching.

Scholars are invited to submit book-length manuscripts which deal with the shaping of social policy in a religiously and culturally pluralistic world. We are especially interested in creative approaches to the problems of ethical and cultural relativism in a world divided by ideological conflicts. A two page prospectus on the series is available. Formore information or to submit a manuscript, contact the series editor, Darrell J. Fasching, Cooper Hall 317, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida 33620. Phone (813) 974-2221 or residence (813) 963-2968.

U.S.F. Monographs in Religion and Public Policy

University of South Florida Monographs in Religion and Public Policy is looking for manuscripts on religion and public policy of an intermediate length (i.e., too long for journals but too short for a book.) If you care to submit a manuscript in that category or wish to make further inquiries, contact:

Nathan Katz, Editor

USF Monographs in Religion and Public Policy

Dept, of Religious Studies

University of South Florida

Tampa, FL 33620

Guidelines for Submissions to The Ellul Studies Forum

The Ellul Studies Forum is intended to foster a communications network among scholars in the area of religion and technology. If you would like to submit a book review or conference review, announce a symposium or conference, write a letter to the editor or write an editorial piece for the Forum or a response to the Forum, submit bibliographical information or an article of relevance to Forum readers, there are several ways to do so.

The Forum is prepared using Ventura desk top publishing software. I can accept files from most MS-DOS (IBM compatible) programs. If you have access to a modem you can send me your computer file over the phone lines by calling me at (813) 963-2968. If you have access to a fax machine I can accept faxed hard copy at the same phone number.

And you can always send it to me "the old fashioned way" via the U.S. Mail. If you work on a computer, I would prefer to receive the hard copy accompanied by the file on floppy disk. All will be returned to senders once the information has been copied. Copy will reach the editor: if sent to his home address. Send copy to Darrell J. Fasching, 15811 Cottontail Place, apa, Florida 33624.

The Deadline for the Next Issue is October 1, 1989. A major theme for the next issue will be Judaism & Christianity in a Technological Civilization.


To Subscribe to the Forum for one year (two issues), send your name and address and a check made out to The Ellul Studies Forum in the amount of $6.00 ($8.00 outside the U.S. The check must be drawn from the foreign branch of a U.S. Bank or be a U.S. Postal Money Order).

Mail to: The Ellul Studies Forum
Department of Religious Studies
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Tampa, FL 33620

The Ellul Studies Forum
Department of Religious Studies
University of South Florida
Tampa, Florida 33620

Issue #4 Nov 1989 — Judaism and Christianity after Auschwitz and Hiroshima

A Forum For Scholarship on Theology in a Technological Civilisation

November 1989 Issue #4 ©1989 Department of Religious Studies,

University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620

Judaism and Christianity After Auschwitz And Hiroshima, p.4

In This Issue

Book Reviews

Three books by Jacques Ellul: Un Chretien pour Israel reviewed by Darrell Fasching p. 2

What I Believe reviewed by Daniel Lewis p. 3

Le bluff technologique reviewed by Gabriel Vahanian p. 11


After Auschwitz and Hiroshima by Darrell J. Fasching p. 4

On Christians, Jews and the Law by Katharine Temple p. 10

Forum Response to Katharine Temple by Vernard Eller p. 12

to Jacques Ellul by Michael Bauman p. 13

Bibliography by Cari Mitcham and Jim Grote p. 14

From the Editor, coniintuedon page 9.

From the Editor

by Darrell J. Fasching

Welcome to issue # 4 of the Forum. Let me open by reminding everyone that The Ellul Studies Forum subscribers and other interested scholars will be meeting at the AAR Conference in California on November 18th. See the anouncement on page nine for details.

Although putting the Forum together is always a labor of love for me, I confess that this particular issue has been something of a distraction since I am currently on sabbatical, writing a book. The working title of the manuscript is Apocalypse or Utopia? Ethics After Auschwitz and Hiroshima. I have been able to put this issue together without breaking my train of thought, so to speak, by focusing the Forum on the same theme. In effect, I am using the Forum as a sounding board for this topic, which is not inappropriate to its intended purpose.

Therefore, in this issue you will find two Forum essays focusing on the need for Christian theology to rethink the relation between Christianity and Judaism in a technological civilization. The first is my essay, After Auschwitz and Hiroshima: Judaism and Christianity in a Technological Civilization, which explores the impact of Auschwitz and Hiroshima on Jewish and Christian theology and ethics. In the second essay, Katharine Tomple attempts to undo some of the stereotypes about Judaism and the law in Christian theology .This essay is reprinted from The Catholic Worker where it appeared in a less polemical form as part of a larger essay written for the feast of Epiphany.

We also have reviews of three of Ellul’s books, two of which have not yet appeared in English translation. These are Un Chretien pour Israel reviewed by myself and Le bluff technologique reviewed by Gabriel Vahanian. The third book is What I Believe reviewed by Daniel Lewis.

In the Forum Response section we have an essay by Vemard Eller responding to Katharine Tomple’s critical review of his work. Also in this section you will find a response from Michael Bauman to Jacques Ellul’s response to Bauman’s critique of Ellul’s book Jesus and Marx. Among other things, Bauman takes exception to Ellul’s definition of "ideology." Bauman clears this issue up more by example than by counterdefinition, for Mr. Bauman tells us that he is a "politically conservative, free-market Christian" who holds that "Christian values are capitalist values." That, I venture to say, is a mistake Ellul does not make with regard to either Capitalism or Marxism. Whatever definition of ideology one chooses, it should be axiomatic that Christian faith ought to be in the world but not of it. Mr. Bauman appears to be quite comfortable citing George Gilder to answer the question - "What does it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul?" The answer, I gather, is quite a bit, and most of it is probably in tax shelters. No doubt Mr. Bauman’s preoccupation with showing that justice does not entail equality, follows from this - for if it does Capitalism is definitely in trouble when it comes to the distribution of wealth.

Moving on, thanks to Carl Mitcham and Jim Grote we again have a bibliography of new materials relevant to our interest in theology ina technological civilization.

Finally, I visited Jacques Ellul in Bordeaux in July. I bad thought that I might publish my interview with him in this issue but it didn’t turn out that way for two reasons. First, we only had an hour for the formal interview and I found myself using much of it to explore issues that were of more personal rather than public interest Second, even though some of the interview would be of general interest, I have been working against the clock to finish my book and simply have not had the time to transcribe and edit the interview.

There was however, for me, one especially surprising development in my encounter with ElluL Practically the first thing Ellul said to me when we were first introduced was that he thought Gabriel Albanian was the most important theologian writing in France today. Since I did my dissertation on Ellul under Wianian, I was naturally most pleased to hear this. Nevertheless, I thought perhaps he was just being polite. But then at the conclusion of the major address which Ellul gave to the Society for the Philosophy of Technology conference on Democracy and Technology, after a somewhat pessimistic (as usual) assessment of prospects for the future he concluded by saying that the only hope for the future lay in the direction of "Utopianism" in the sense that [n]my good friend Gabriel Vihanian uses that term." Given that Ellul has consistently spoken disparagingly of "utopianism," this came as a considerable surprise. Since my own book on Ellul was an attempt to reconcile Ellul’s apocalypticism with Xbhanian’s utopianism as reflected in his book God and Utopia: The Church in a Technological Civilization, I found this especially gratifying. When I asked him about this "change" after the speech, he said that for a long time he resisted Vhhanian’s utopian approach, but gradually he became convinced by it.

All of this is by way of introducing the focus for the next issue. A new book by Wianian has just been published in France, Dieu anonyme, oulapeur des mots [GodAnonymous, or words not meant to be feared] (Descl6e de Brouwer, Paris, 1989). Vfehanian has agreed to furnish an essay based on this book for the June issue of the Forum. He has sent me the following paragraph summarizing the book’s theme:

In the biblical tradition, faith consists in changing the world rather than changing worlds. From the Garden of Eden to the New Jerusalem its outlook is thoroughly utopian and therefore in order for the world to become the theater of God’s glory it must be hallowed. But "hallowing"... must not be confused with any tendency to "sacralize" past achievements through which God is located here or there. Being neither this or that, God is word. God is language, even that language of which the human is an instrument. True, this verbal character of the human reality is best underlined by technology, but only because the human is the instrument of technology and not the other way around. The human is accordingly the condition of God, so human that God needs no other name than any name through which the human in Christ, the human itself, comes into its own. Not that the human is now the measure of all things. In the biblical tradition, not even God is the measure of all things. For there is no other measure of all things but the Christ in whom God, being a God who speaks ... being a God who is all in all, is God anonymous.

Book Reviews

Un Chretien pour Israel, by Jacques Ellul

Monaco: Editions du Rocher, 1986,243 pp.

Reviewed by Darrell J. Fasching

This book reveals a side of Jacques Ellul that may come as a surprise to some. Most of us are familiar with Ellul the sociologist of technical civilization, Ellul the exegete of scripture, Ellul the theologian and ethicist of freedom. But in Un Chretien pour Israel we now discover Ellul the champion of Judaism and defender of the state of Israel against all anti-Judaism, anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

Although Ellul typically argues that only Christians can introduce freedom into a technical civilization, he clearly makes one exception to this rule. The one other community of hope and freedom is Judaism. Thus one might have guessed that Judaism has a special place in his theological thinking. For those who have read his earlier books Hope in Time of Abandonment and Prayer and Modem Man this will not come as a complete surprise (see the forum essay for this month). And careful attention to his Biblical commentary, Apocalypse: The Book, of Revelation might also have prepared one for this book. But even so I was still quite surprised and most delighted with the depth of his commitment.

The book begins with a personal preface and then proceeds to a discussion of the place of the Jewish people in Christian faith, scriptures, and theology - dealing forthrightly with the history of Christian anti-Judaism. This prepares the way for addressing anti-Jewish trends in our time and the link between anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism. An analysis of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist propaganda in contemporary news media coverage follows. The book then concludes with a historical and political analysis of the Middle East situation with special attention to the PLO - Israeli conflict, the emergence of an anti-Semitic bias in UN declarations, and finally a vigorous defense of Israeli political policies in relation to the Palestinians.

In the Preface, Ellul reveals some of the biographical details of how he has come to the position he holds in this book. He goes to lengths to show that his position is based not in any personal factors, such as personal friendships or family influences. Rather, his commitment to Judaism grows out his scriptural and theological understanding that being a Christian requires a relation to the Jewish people. Thus we find that he was largely indifferent toward Israel until 1948 when he read an essay by M. Visscher exegeting chapters 9-11 of Paul’s letter to the Romans. "In my own spiritual life," he says "chapters 8 and 12 had played an important role, but I had never seen the importance of the teachings of Paul on the Jewish people (13)." This essay was decisive in his development of a commitment to the Jewish people. Thus he insists that he does not defend Israel out of a bad conscience for Christian persecutions of Jews, nor because of the Holocaust (even though he insists Christians must, of course, come to grips with these) nor out of any admiration for Israel’s prowess in rebuilding the land of Israel. His defense of Israel comes rather as "a direct expression of the faith which I have in Jesus Christ and as a result of a series of political reflections (16)."

Ellul acknowledges that the New Testament has been the cause of anti-Judaism in Christian history, especially in placing blame for the death of Jesus on the Jews and for promoting a teaching of supersession - that gentile Christians replace the Jews as God’s chosen people. But he argues that such a use of the New Testament scriptures is contrary to the theological meaning of the Gospel, which insists that the cause of Christ’s death was "our sins." Moreover the negative teachings of contempt in Christianity are based on pulling passages out of context and applying them to the whole of Judaism, and as a result creating a false theology of the rejection of the Jews. But there is only one place in the whole of the New Tostament in which the relationship of Jews to Christians is explicitly addressed as a theological issue, and that is in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Everything else in the New Testament thus must be brought into reconciliation with it. Paul provides the norm and standard of theological truth in this area. And Paul’s teaching is emphatic: the Jews are not rejected by God. Christians do not replace the Jews as God’s elect, but rather are a wild olive branch grafted on to the holy root of Israel. In Ellul’s view, Jews and Christians are the two covenant peoples who stand in a dialectical historical relationship to each other as God’s faithful witnesses in history. The "Mystery" revealed in Paul is that "through Israel the election and salvation of the whole of humanity will finally be attained" (29) and thus "Israel must always be at the center of Christian theology"(33). Israel testifies to the faithfulness of God and the Church to the universality of the love of God. The problem, as Ellul sees it, was that this theology of Paul’s was buried under a tradition of anti-Judaism in the Church fathers, beginning with Origen, so that Paul was selectively read and re-interpreted to conform to the myth of supersession.

As Ellul moves on to the contemporary implications of anti-Judaism, he develops the theme that contemporary anti-Zionism is fundamentally disguised anti-Judaism. Nor does he accept the specious argument that the Arabs can’t be anti-Semitic since they are themselves Semites, arguing that Hitler’s anti-Semitism (a racial prejudice) was in reality only disguised anti-Judaism (a religious prejudice), noting that Hitler had cordial relations with Palestinian Arabs, which seemed to cause him no problems at all.

One of Ellul’s most provocative arguments is that the Palestinian people, as a political and "ethnic" reality, is the creation of propaganda. They had no special "Palestinian" ethnic identity prior to the formation of the state of Israel (157). They were simply Arabs living in the territory. "The Palestinians have never constituted a nation nor an organized people. They have never been a state" (108). It is only in the last twenty years that "the Palestinian people" have been created through political conflict and propaganda.

In the contemporary situation the media tend to portray the Palestinians as a persecuted minority who have a right to use violence while Israel is portrayed as the oppressive majority whose every act which uses force is condemned, ignoring the fact that the Palestinians are part of an Arab majority which both surrounds Israel from without and threatens her from within at the same time. Israel is accused of exploiting the bad conscience of the West, but nothing is said about the pro-Palestinian exploitation of the bad conscience of the West for its "colonialist crimes."

The most vicious propaganda tactic is to tum the Holocaust back upon the Jews by accusing them being the new Nazis and the Palestinians the new "Jews” or "persecuted people." The analogy is so inexact as to be blasphemous. There are no smoke stacks in Israel, there is no mass genocide. The identity cards and internment camps are no more than many other nations enact to protect their own security. The treatment of Palestinians is no different than the treatment Jews are accorded in many other countries (e.g., USSR, Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt,etc.) and yet the media find only the Palestinian situation an outrage. Moreover, few countries are as vulnerable to sudden attack as Israel and fewer still could be annihilated by such an attack.(Ellul calculates that the countiy could be divided by a decisive military attack in less than half an hour.) If other nations lose a war they have the luxury of regrouping their resources and going on. If Israel succumbs to attack there will be no second chance.

The outcome of this propaganda and the political situation it creates, Ellul argues, is to create a new pre-pogrom climate which will be used to "justify" a new attempt at a "final solution."

Ellul goes on to discuss the Palestinian charter, which like Hitler’s Afein Khmgf promises the annihilation of the Jewish people and of the growing influence of anti Judaism in UN declarations and policy. On the Palestinian charter, he observes that it has never been revoked. He totally distrusts contemporary Palestinian claims to have revoked this commitment to the destruction of Israel, noting that until they change the charter by the same formal process in which it was first created such claims are nothing but lies and propaganda.

Ellul finally concludes the book with a discussion of Israel as a nation which is not "an exemplary" State, acknowledging that real abuses of power occur. But he nevertheless insists that Israel is a "unique state" showing greater conscience, morality and respect for its promises than have the nations which stand as its accusers. Ellul finishes on a discouraging note, saying that he can see no solution to the situation in the Middle East even as he warns that world peace for the future hangs in the balance there. Yet what is impossible for human beings may yet be possible for God. The task of Christians is to hope and pray and act as Christians "for Israel."

This book is rich in detail far beyond anything I can communicate in this review. Theologically I can find no fault with it at all. Historically, I do not have sufficient command of the depth and breadth of the facts of 20th century Middle Eastern history and politics so as to be able to disagree with it. At the very least it ought to be on the mandatory reading list of every Christian as a healthy antidote to the anti-Judaic and anti-Zionist propaganda we are deluged with and taken in by, all too often. (For this reason, I was very disappointed to learn that Eerdmans has decided not to publish an English translation. However, they have passed it on to Helmers and Howard, where Donald Simpson confirms that they are considering it for publication, so there is still hope.) Theologically, Ellul is surely right to insist that it is the special responsibility of Christians to be making the case "for Israel."

Daniel J. Lewis’s Review of ‘What I Believe’

‘What I Believe’ by Jacques Ellul

Translated by G. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989; London: Marshal Morgan and Scott, 1989), 223 pp., $19.95, cloth.

Reviewed by Daniel J. Lewis, William Tyndale College

Most books with the title "What I Believe" might be discounted out of hand. In this case, however, the fact that the book was written by Jacques Ellul makes the title intriguing rather than banal. The highest interest, of course, will be those who have already been exposed to Ellul’s writings.

There is a careful distinction which the reader must observe between faith and belief, a distinction which Ellul makes in the "introduction" and which must not be passed over. Belief, at least in the way Ellul uses it, is the affirmation of what he thinks about things, not so much on a doctrinal level but in terms of a world view. The book is not creedal, and it is not a theology, though as is usual in Ellul’s works, theology influences his treatment of the subject matter. Neither is it a philosophical prolegomena, though despite Ellul’s aversion to it, philosophy also impinges on the subject matter. Rather, the work is more on the order of an assessment and a conclusion about the way in which human life and society exists, how people make decisions, how the human race explores its potential - and most important - what are the far reaching implications of all this.

Ellul addresses his world view in three major sections. The first is a collage of various beliefs about reality, including the meaning of life, the relationship between chance, necessity, and accident, the nature of communicable truth, the importance of dialectic, the human desire for harmony as a lost ideal in need of restoration, the problem of evil, and the human need for life-long love which arises out of freedom. As is characteristic of his other works, there is a strong ethical bent throughout He himself says, "I have devoted my whole life to making people more aware, more free, more capable of judging themselves, of getting out of the crowd, of choosing, and at the same time of avoiding wickedness and imbecility. My books have never had any other goal" (p. 64).

Special comment is in order with regard to his discussion of the dialectical method. In fact, for anyone not familiar with Ellul’s works (and possibly even for those who are), it would be appropriate to read the chapter on dialectic immediately following the introduction. Ellul frequently resorts to explaining his beliefs by the negation of what he does not believe. His method is not unlike that of the sage in the Upanishads who, when pressed for a definition of God, says, "neti, neti," i.e., "not this, not that."

The second major section explores a philosophy of history. Since Ellul’s speciality is sociology and history, this portion is particularly insightful. Ellul explains human history under the rubric of three stages or environments, the environment of nature, which be calls the original or prehistoric environment, the environment of the social group, labeled the historical period, and the environment of technology, the post-historic era into which human society is now plunging. Each new environment appears, not by eliminating the previous one, but by superimposition, thus modifying and reducing it to a substratum.

The final major section addresses theism and what Ellul perceives to be metaphysical reality. While it is not so easy to pigeonhole Ellul into a definite theological category, it can at least be said that he certainly is neither a deist, gnostic, process theologian, apologist, nor fatalist. He is more similar, at least in dialectical method, to Karl Barth, Emil Brunner and the Niebuhr brothers. In this final section, he addresses the spiritual potential inherent in a freedom of history, and he does so through the theological lens of God’s rest on the seventh day. This rest, which has already been inaugurated, still awaits its consummation in which all the tensions of history and human life will be resolved by a foil reconciliation with God. Reconciliation with God is unilateral, and the divine rest, which will be consummated in a total way at the conclusion of history, becomes the foundation of Ellul’s universalism. In his closing comments, he suggests that human freedom to cooperate with God will result in the divine recognition and acceptance of human work, and as he says in his closing line,"... to the utmost of my power it has been the meaning and motivation of all that I do."

It is difficult to be critical of a world view, except to express agreement or disagreement. A world view is not some matter of fact or research, but a perspective and a value judgment on life and reality. At the same time, it may be said from the viewpoint of this reviewer that the most stimulating and perceptive area of the book is Ellul’s forcefol and convincing analysis of the technological environment, not as an entity to which a minor adjustment can be made, but as a total framework which assimilates all else in human society.


After Auschwitz and Hiroshima: Judaism and Christianity in a Technological Civilization

by Darrell J. Fasching

Judaism, Christianity and technological civilization - what possible link ties these three together, other than sheer contemporaneity? The answer, at least my answer, begins by tracing the path to Auschwitz and beyond.

From Anti-Judaism to Anti-Semitism and Auschwitz

That the Holocaust or Shoah (i.e., time of desolation) could occur in our "modem" world is a judgment on ail the institutions and resources of Western civilization, but it is an especially devastating judgment on the one ethical community, above all, which should have come to the defense of the Jews, namely, the Christian church. The cause of that failure has deep roots in Christian history and theology.

In the year 380 C.E., under Theodosius, the first Christian emperor of the Roman empire (Constantine was not baptized until his death bed), Christianity was declared the only legal religion of the empire. From this time forward no aliens or strangers were allowed within Christendom. Human dignity was granted to those who were die same and denied to those who were different. At this time all pagan traditions were suppressed and forbidden and Judaism came under severe legal restrictions. Within that same decade an ominous event occurred which was to set the pattern for the next two millennia of Jewish-Christian relations. In 388 C.E. the Bishop of Callinicum in Mesopotamia led a mob in the burning of a Jewish synagogue. Theodosius, in an attempt to administer justice, ordered the bishop to rebuild the synagogue. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, the great church father and teacher of Augustine, forbid Theodosius to enforce his decree and withheld the sacraments until he acquiesced to his demands. This event set the pattern for the treatment of Jews in Western civilization from the 4th century onward. The state became an instrument of the Church for the suppression of Judaism in particular and "heretics" in general. Behind this event already lay more than three hundred years of theological anti-Judaism in the writings of the church fathers, in which the Jews were accused of "killing Jesus," the Messiah and Son of God, and thus committing a "crime" against the human race. For this "crime," it was said, they were condemned by God to wander the earth, homeless, until the end of time as a "negative witness" to the truth of Christianity.

It is hardly coincidental that as these teachings took hold, the legal status of Judaism crumbled and the vulnerability of Jews to prejudice and violence increased. Synagogue burnings, Jewish children forcibly taken away from their parents and baptized, expulsions of Jews from country after country, and especially from the time of the Crusades, repeated mob violence or pogroms with extensive loss of life. When Hitler told two German bishops that he was only finishingwhat the church had started, he knew whereof he spoke. No wonder Hitler could say in Mein Kampf, "I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."

Historically, Christians have engaged in a process of spiritual genocide. We have said to the Jew: "You have no right to exist as God’s chosen because God has rejected you and chosen us instead. We are the true Israel." The step from such spiritual genocide to physical genocide - from "you have no right to exist as Jews" to "you have no right to exist" - is a step prepared by Christian religious anti-Judaism and carried out under Nazi "secular" anti-Semitism. Both the sacred and the secular in Western civilization, both Christendom and the Enlightenment, prepared the path to Auschwitz. As long as being a Jew was perceived by the Gentile as a religious claim, the "final solution" to the "Jewish problem" (i.e., the simple fact of their existence) could officially be envisioned as conversion, although the popular response was all too often pogrom and expulsion. But once the secularization process unleashed by the Enlightenment redefined being a Jew in terms of race, conversion was no longer a possible solution. Religious anti-Judaism became secular anti-Semitism. Now "the final solution" to the presence of an alien and undesired race came to mean genocide: a solution the Nazis attempted to enact.

Two Models of Faith and Ethics

Different models of faith have different moral consequences. That is the hypothesis I wish to explore in the aftermath of the Shoah. How is it possible that, in spite of more than 2000 years of oppression and persecution, Jews remained faithful to their tradition? And why is it that Christians, who in the beginning were also persecuted, became a persecuting religion and abandoned the central Gospel injunction of loving one’s neighbor, even one’s enemy, as oneself? Starkly put, I think the answer is to be found in a fundamentally different understanding of faith and ethics in each tradition. Judaism is grounded in an understanding of faith as a dialectic of trust and questioning, even to the point of calling God into question, whereas in Christianity the element of questioning was largely lost and the dialectic of faith collapsed into an ethic of trust as total and unquestioning obedience.

Both traditions allow that trust and obedience play a central role in the life of faith and both appeal to Abraham as a model of this trusting faith. But in Judaism Abraham is remembered not only as the one who exemplifies the obedience of the Akeda (the binding of Isaac to be sacrificed, Genesis 22) but also as the one who, in the argument over Sodom and Gommorah, questions and challenges God, asking: "Shall not the judge of all, himself, be just?" (18:25)." For Biblical, Thlmudic and Hasidic Judaism, faith is wrestling with God - an ongoing dialogue and debate with God which serves as a training ground for moral autonomy, rooted in a strong sense of human dignity as a reflection of being created in the image of a God who is without image. The reduction of faith, in the Christian case, to unquestioning trust and obedience, by contrast, has taught quite another moral lesson: namely, the subjugation of moral autonomy to finite moral authorities, religious and/or secular-political, who pretend to speak for (or as) God, even when the obedience demanded runs counter to the Gospel message of love of neighbor and one’s enemy. The result has been the persistent and repeated tendency of Christians, Protestant and Catholic alike, to accommodate their faith and moral vision to dehumanizing ideologies of the status quo, and so become a negative witness to the very transcendence they proclaim.

There is in Judaism an understanding of covenant as a personal and communal relationship which is essentially a two way street. It is a dialogue between God and his people grounded in a set of mutual expectations. The formula "I will be your God and you will be my people" is understood as a moral contract of love and commitment obligating both parties. Jews are obligated to live by the commandments but God also has obligations: to be with his people, to guide them and protect them. Although the term chutzpa has rather lighthearted connotations in American Jewish culture, the Israeli scholar, Mordechai Rotenberg, argues that it has a weightier meaning in the Talmudic tradition and is the most appropriate term for this contractual relationship "according to which God as a dynamic ‘personality* allows man to influence him—[Indeed, chutzpa is] a symbol for man’s capacity to affect God and change his decrees and consequently man’s future by his actions and justified complaints (Rotenberg,14)."

If the faith of Jews was a faith grounded in answers, the Holocaust or Shoah (i.e., the time of desolation) might well have meant the end of Judaism. But the faith of Jews, it seems, is not grounded in answers to metaphysical questions but in a personal covenant relationship of chutzpa- of ongoing dialogue and debate which is a continuous wrestling with God. More than any other factor, it seems to me, it is this which is providing the foundation for post-Shoah Jewish theology. Let me briefly suggest evidence for this from three leading Jewish authors who are struggling to find a path for Jews after Auschwitz: Emil lackenheim, Elie Wiesel and Irving Greenberg.

Emil Fackenbeim has raised the fundamental question: Where was God at Auschwitz? Like virtually all other Jewish authors on this subject, he rejects the pious traditions of the past which accounted for misfortune by suggesting that it is punishment for sins, for the Jews who died in the death camps were overwhelmingly Jews from the most pious and observant communities in Europe. God cannot be let off that easily. But then where was God? And how can one continue to be Jewish in the face of God’s seeming abandonment of his people in the death camps? In response to these questions, Fackenheim says:

There is a kind of faith which will accept all things and renounce every protest. There is also a kind of protest which has despaired of faith. In Judaism there has always been protest which stays within the sphere of faith. Abraham remonstrates with God. So do Jeremiah and Job. So does, in modem times, the Hasidic Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdiczev. He once interrupted the sacred Yom Kippur service in order to protest that, whereas kings of flesh and blood protected their peoples, Israel was unprotected by her King in heaven. Yet having made his protest he recited the Kaddish, which begins with these words: "Extolled and hallowed be the name of God throughout the world..-" Can Jewish protest today remain within the sphere of faith (Hackenheim, 76)?

Elie Wiesel, a most eloquent survivor of Auschwitz, knows the meaning of this conflict More than any other author, Wiesel deserves to be seen as the bearer of the tradition of chutzpa in our post-Shoah world. Wiesel tells us: "I remember my Master... telling me, ‘Only the Jew knows that he may oppose God as long as he does so in defense of His creation." Th be a Jew "means to serve God by espousing man’s cause, to plead for man while recognizing his need of God." Or again, "Judaism teaches man to overcome despair. What is Jewish history if not an endless quarrel with God? (Wiesel, 6)." Standing like Job in the dialectical and dialogical tradition of chutzpa, Wiesel chooses to put God on trial and call him to account This is a persistent theme throughout his writings culminating in his play, The Trial of God. The play, ostensibly about an incident in the 17th century, is actually based on an experience he had in the death camps, where he witnessed three rabbis who "decided one winter evening to indict God for allowing his children to be massacred." And when the trial was over and God was found guilty, the rabbis realized it was time for prayers and so they bowed their heads to pray (Brown, 154). The dialectical and dialogical faith of trust and chutzpa is not the Active invention of post-Shoah theologians. It is a lived faith, a tradition of faith reaffirmed in the very bowels of the death camps.

Irving Greenberg, our third theologian, explores the ethical as well as theological implications of this tradition. Greenberg takes issue with Richard Rubenstein’s belief that God died at Auschwitz. He quotes Rubenstein’s declaration that "Jewish history has written the final chapter in the terrible story of the God of History.... the world will forever remain a place of pain... and ultimate defeat (Greenberg, 26)." Greenberg’s response to this is direct: "After the Shoah, there should be no final solutions, not even theological ones (13)." What Greenberg finds unsatisfactory in Rubenstein’s response to Shoah is his "definitiveness." Rubenstein has broken with the paradoxical dialectic of Jewish existence - the dialectic of trust and chutzpa. Rubenstein has abandoned the Thlmudic-Hasidic path of questioning and settled for a definitive answer. He does not wrestle with the unnamed God of Jacob. For Greenberg it is not belief in God which has to be abandoned but rather unquestioning trust and obedience. The ethical implication of the Holocaust is that one should be skeptical of all movements, religious or secular, whether of the left or the right. "Nothing dare evoke our absolute, unquestioning loyalty not even our God, for this leads to possibilities of SS loyalties (38)."

After Auschwitz, Greenberg argues, authentic faith defies the traditional categories of sacred and secular. It is action not words which tells us who has experienced the reality of God. Thus Greenberg argues that during the 1967 war against Israel, it was Sartre who spoke out against a potential genocide and Pope Paul VI who was silent Thus we must say that it is Sartre, not the Pope, who has shown himself to be a man of faith, one who has experienced the reality of God and God’s image in every human being. Or again, he argues that in Israel today, it is the secular Israelis who represent authentic faith and not the Orthodox Jews. For it is the secular Israelis who insist on the admission of all Jews to Israel and not orthodox Jews, who even after the Shoah, would turn their backs on some Jews who do not meet their "religious" standards. Here the final paradox of the tradition of chutzpa reveals itself. The tradition that calls God into question is the tradition that calls human beings into question as well - in the name of the image of God in all creatures. It is the paradox of appealing to God against God on behalf of God’s creation.

The Sacred, the Secular and the Demonic: Genocide as Deicide

What went wrong with Christianity during the Shoah? Why did the majority of Christians, and especially clergy, either actively or passively support Hitler and his "final solution to the Jewish problem"? Indeed, not even the famous Barmen declaration of the Confessing Church raised the issue of the treatment of the Jews. The leading figure in its formulation, Karl Barth, later wrote: "I have long felt guilty that I did not make this problem central.... There is no excuse that I did not fight properly for this cause...(Lit-teil, 46)."

”The most ironic statistic of the Third Reich... was that more Catholic priests and Protestant ministers died in the German army than were put into concentration camps: from an actuarial point of view it was safer to oppose Hitler than to support him (Allen, 122)." The greatest shame of the Church was "the tendency for all church-going Catholics and Protestants to be more anti-Semitic than were those who no longer attended services regularly (Gordon, 260)."

What went wrong? Undoubtedly a full answer to that question would be very complex, but I would suggest that a fundamental flaw in the dominant model of faith and ethics found within Christianity plays an essential role. It might be thought that the Church failed because it substituted the State for Christ as her Lord. But it is more complicated than that. Virtually from its beginning, Christian faith came to be defined as requiring (in varying degrees) obedience to the state as an aspect of obedience to Christ Therein, I believe, lies the heart of the problem.

Now feitii as a fierce and unquestioning loyalty to the will of God revealed in Christ could be an ethically powerful force for good in the world, were the "will of God" understood solely in terms of "love of neighbor," and even "one’s enemies, as oneself. ” But when the message of the Gospel is taken to include the theme of supersession, the myth that gentile Christians replace Jews as God’s chosen, and vrfien it is thought to include the requirement of obedience to the state, the implications become ominous.

The key scripture which seems to have promoted this ethic of obedience occurs in Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 13: "Let everyone obey the authorities that are over him, for there is no authority except from God...." It is this statement that Luther appeals to in formulating his extreme position in urging the German princes to suppress the peasant revolts of his time. Only God can establish rulers and only God can remove rulers. It is not permissible for human beings to revolt, even against a vicious and unjust ruler. It is this pattern of faith as unquestioning obedience which prepared Christians for obedience even to Hitler.

Throughout history Jews refused to assimilate and be conformed to the world around them. The refusal of the Jew to assimilate led pagan and Christian alike to a violent rage against the Jew, because the "otherness" of the Jew was a witness to that which transcends all religions and cultures, remaining Wholly Other. God cannot be made the exclusive possession of any culture or religion - not even in the name of Christ. The existence of the Jew has reminded others that God’s ways are not the same as their ways. In the world of the Shoah, the existence of the Jew was a burdening reminder of "faithfulness" which the-Christian conscience, of those who preached the value of "not being conformed to the world" while practicing conformity to the world of Nazi values, was only too happy to have out of sight and out of mind.

In the Nazi period this rage against the Jewish witness to transcendence escalated to a point of no return. The religious rage masked itself in the myth of race which made assimilation as a "final solution" an impossible option. Hence the Nazis turned to genocide. But make no mistake about it, the rage against the Jew (whether pagan, Christian or Nazi) is a scarcely disguised rage against the transcendence of God, the God who cannot be used to legitimate pagan, Christian or Nazi hegemony, the God who cannot be owned or used for political and ideological purposes, the God who is the limit of all conformity to this world. The attempted genocide of the Jews is a thinly disguised attempt at the deidde of God, in which the perpetrators have all too typically projected their own motives onto the victims as a justification for their own genocidal actions.

Ellul’s Contribution to Post-Shoah Christian Ethics

Jacques Ellul’s theology speaks with unusual relevance to our situation after Auschwitz. Ellul’s theology stands in sharp contrast to traditional Christian theology with its myth of supersession and ethic of obedience - a theology which shaped the path leading to Auschwitz. Rather than seeing the church as replacing the synagogue, he sees both as standing in a dialectical relation of mutually enabling witness through which they share the vocation to be communities of freedom in a world of determinisms. Ellul is often accused of focusing on the individual to the exclusion of the church. But in a rare discussion of ecciesiology in Hope in Tune of Abandonment he holds up the synagogue as the model of apocalyptic hope and urges the church to take the synagogue as the model for a diaspora presence, a "hidden presence" (the incognito), in a technological civilization. "Israel," he says, "is a people centered entirely on hope, living by that alone.... As the one hoping people of the world, it is Israel which provides us with the model for this age... an example of the incognito. In this age of abandonment... I think that Christians should take that as a model (Ellul, 290-291)." Indeed, "if history is looked at closely and without the usual Christian prejudice, it turns out to have been forged at least as much by the Jewish incognito as by Christian activism...(Ellul, 297)." "There is only one political endeavor on which world history now depends; that is the union of the Church and Israel... These two communities _. must join forces so that, in effect, this Word of God might finally be written ... in counterpoint to the technological history of these times...(Ellul, 305)." Ellul is speaking, he says, not of an institutional merger but of a conversion of the Church to hope so as to support Israel "in its long march through the same night and toward the same kingdom (Ellul, 304)."

And in Prayer and Modem Man, written about the same time, Ellul furthers spells out the meaning of Jewish hope as a model for Christians. In an age of God’s silence and abandonment, he argues, apocalyptic hope gives one the audacity (i.e., chutzpa) to assault God, and wrestle with him. Prayer is just this combat with God "which is a demand that God not keep silence...., a striving with God, of whom one makes demands, whom one importunes, whom one attacks constantly, whose silence and absence one would penetrate at all costs. It is a combat to oblige God to respond, to reveal himself anew (156)." Such prayer is a "commitment on behalf of man" which "is decisively bound to the commitment with God (164)." Such prayer is "the ultimate act of hope" from which "all further radicalism, of behavior, of style of life and of action" comes (167,176).

Ellul’s importance for post-Shoah Christian theology is linked to the feet that he is one of those rare Christian theologians who has allowed the Jewish experience of faith to speak to him and teach him. Ellul’s theology echoes the wisdom of Judaism summarized so eloquently by Elie Wiesel: "Only the Jew knows that he may oppose God as long as he does so in defense of His creation." to be a Jew "means to serve God by espousing man’s cause, to plead for man while recognizing his need of God (Wiesel, 6)."

Ellul’s God is not a "Christian" God but the God of Israel, which is to say, the God of the whole human race. His God is the anarchist God of which Irving Greenberg speaks as the God who invites the contestation of all authority, sacred and secular, including his own, in defense of his creation. The difference between God (The Holy) and the idol (whether sacred or secular), is that idols will tolerate no dissent. There is a link between Ellul’s ethic of audacity (apocalyptic hope) and anarchism, and his universal compassion manifest in his belief in universal salvation. His God is the God of the whole human race, of all those who are different and not just of those who are the same, the God who reveals his transcendence through the otherness of the stranger and the alien.

From Auschwitz to Hiroshima: The Demonic Autonomy of Technique

The path to Auschwitz and its consequences represent a severe challenge to the religious traditions of the West. To Christians, because of the complicity of Christianity in that anti-Judaic path renders its theological and ethical categories morally suspect, to Jews, because their victim status presses faith in the God of history and feith in human beings to the breaking point. But the path to Auschwitz, and from Auschwitz to Hiroshima, represents a challenge, equally severe, to the scientific and technical secular culture of the Enlightenment. We do not seem to have fared any better under a secular ethic than we did under a religious one. Indeed we have fared worse; genocide it seems is a unique product of the modern "secular" world and its "technically competent barbarians." As Franklin Littell has put it:

The same kind of "educated" technicians built Auschwitz and the antipersonnel weapons used in Vietnam.... The technically competent barbarian is available to the highest bidder, be he communist or fascist or feudal despot or republican. The common mistake is to suppose this is solely a result of his avarice or unbridled ambition; it is aided and abetted by a system of education that has trained him to think in ways that eliminate questions of ultimate responsibility. Having eliminated God as an hypothesis, he exercises godlike powers with pride rather than with fear and trembling. Unaware of himself as a person, finite and imperfect, he becomes, year by year, less a mechanic and more a machine - a machine which is still able to perform some complex services that are yet beyond the capacity of even the most advanced computers.... The world of techne largely ignores the past in its devotion to present tasks.... And the problems themselves are defined by an intellectual discourse that rules out the mysterious and transcendent... The definitions often lack aesthetic and spiritual quality and... the solutions are often morally outrageous - all of this was programmed in from the start... as a child of the Enlightenment (Littell, 13-15).

Auschwitz is the symbol of a demonic period in modem Western civilization in which the religious, political and technological developments converged to create a society whose primary purpose was the most efficient organization of an entire society for the purpose of exterminating all persons who were regarded as aliens and strangers to that society - especially the Jews.

Although they stand side by side as apocalyptic events unique to the modem period, Auschwitz and Hiroshima cannot be equated as historical events. Hiroshima parallels Auschwitz only in its consequences, not in its human intentionality Auschwitz expresses the linkage of the technological mythos to the intentionally demonic ethnocentric tribalism of the Nazis. Hiroshima represents the halting of a similar linkage of technology and demonic tribalism among the Japanese by a country, the United States, which for all its weaknesses was built on a tradition of welcoming all the tribes of the earth. Hiroshima stands as a warning, reminding us that if the Nazis or Japanese had had the bomb, demonic tribalism and genocide would have won the day and that victory would have meant the total destruction of the earth and all its tribes.

There is more to the link between Auschwitz and Hiroshima than sheer contemporaneity. This has become dear to me as I have studied the Post-Holocaust Jewish theologians. Again and again, in the same breath with "Auschwitz" the name "Hiroshima" keeps coming up. The link between Auschwitz and Hiroshima turns out to be an inner link demanded by the analysis of those who were, directly or indirectly, the victims of the Shoah. It is as if those who know something of the "desolation" of Auschwitz recognize that in some sense they have a kinship with those who know the "desolation" of Hiroshima. But also, more than once I have encountered an awareness of a logical as well as psychological link between the two - a link identified as the progressive unfolding of a technological civilization which no longer holds anything sacred, not even human life - nothing that is except the technical imperative: If it can be done it must be done. The death camps were technically feasible and they came to pass. The atom bomb was technically feasible and it came to pass. A final, total apocalyptic nuclear annihilation of the earth is technically feasible....

By comparison with the bomb, technical power at Auschwitz was still relatively inefficient and limited in scope and so capable of being demonically directed at targeted populations, such as Jews and Gypsies. But with the coming of the bomb, technical power burst the bounds of all limitations and has become completely autonomous, it has outstripped human intentionality. If there is a next time after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it will not matter who the good guys and who the bad guys are. The threat of apocalypse which erupted at Auschwitz is no longer limited to the West Hiroshima symbolizes the globalization of the demonic.

The movement from Auschwitz to Hiroshima is psychological, logical and finally mythological. For Auschwitz and Hiroshima have assumed the mythological status of sacred events which orient human consciousness. They have become trans-historical and trans-cultural events which are shaping a public consciousness of our common humanity. The horrifying irony of this is that they are not manifestations of the divine but of the demonic and the common awareness they are creating is one structured by dread.

On July 16th 1945 at 5:30 a.m. the first atomic bomb exploded at a New Mexican desert site named Trinity. It lit up the sky "infinitely brighter than the sun" and one reporter thought of the Biblical phrase -"Let there be light." It was a "religious" response to the awesomeness of a new kind of power. But this experience of the "sacred" was no life giving experience. It was J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist who orchestrated the "Manhattan Project," who captured its meaning most accurately. He remembered the line from the Bhqgavad Gita, spoken by Krishna/Vishnu: "Now I Am Become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds." The technological utopianism of the secular city, aptly symbolized by "The Manhattan Project" revealed itself at Trinity to be headed toward an apocafyp-tic and suicidal destiny. The sacred power of the technological reality was unleashed in a "cloud of smoke and a pillar of fire" and the division of history into a new before and after, which began at Auschwitz, found its completion in the movement from Trinity to Hiroshima. On August 6th 1945 at 8:16 a.m., the bomb exploded over Hiroshima and the millennium of utopia, the millennium which gave rise to science, technology and the "myth of progress," came to a premature apocalyptic end.

It is as if in a moment of inverse enlightenment or revelation, the religious symbols of East and West clashed and exploded within the psyche of J. Robert Oppenheimer and he grasped the demonic inversion of the sacred. The symbolism of the Buddha’s Enlightenment, the Biblical Exodus and the Resurrection have undergone a demonic inversion. "Trinity" no longer names the God of life but the place where planetary death was bom. Now when a commanding voice is heard from a burning fire it speaks not the language of being -1 Am Who Am - but the language of not-being -1 Am Become Death. Likewise, when the hibakusha (literally "explosion affected person") or survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki speak of themselves as mugamuchu, meaning "without self, without center," they speak not of the humanizing experience of liberation (no-self) which comes with Buddhist enlightenment but the experience of total "desolation" which comes with total immersion in the kingdom of death of which the survivors of Auschwitz, during the Shoah (i.e., time of desolation), were the first to speak.

The task of theology in our time, as Arthur Cohen suggested in his book The Tremendum, is to excavate the abyss of the demonic and build a bridge of transcendence over it. That bridge, I am convinced, must be built on an ethic of audacity on behalf of the alien and the stranger. We need a common ethic to unite us as a global human community, one which can carry us beyond our common dread. Perhaps excavating the abyss will motivate us to build a bridge, one built by passing over-the abyss and into other religions and cultures in order to come back with new insight into ourselves and bur own culture.

Beyond Auschwitz and Hiroshima: Welcoming the Stranger

In such a context the dialogue between Christians and Jews in response to Auschwitz leads to the inclusion of Buddhists, as inevitably as Auschwitz leads to Hiroshima. For Buddhism is not only native to Hiroshima but also the other great tradition bound by an ethic of welcoming the stranger - i.e. the "outcaste." I am convinced that the movement from Auschwitz to Hiroshima provides a prophetic warning of what the future holds if we fail to create a cross-cultural public order which can find unity-in-diversity. The apocalyptic threat of our time is that we shall be swallowed up in the abyss of the demonic. Our utopian hope lies in passing over and coming back—in creating that new world where strangers are welcome and where bonds of cross-cultural understanding could alter our relation to the technical order and at the same time make total destruction of "the other" unthinkable. I believe such a world is possible, based on a new social ethic which can be structured cooperatively by Jews, Christians, Buddhists and other ("secular”) a-theists - one which can have a transformative impact on the rest of the world.

After Auschwitz and Hiroshima, I am convinced, we need a new style of theology and ethics. We need a "decentered" or "alienated theology." Alienated theology, is theology done "as if one were a stranger to one’s own tradition. It is my conviction that alienated theology is the appropriate mode for theology in an emerging world civilization - a civilization tottering in the balance between apocalypse and utopia. There are two ways to enter world history, according to the contemporary author, John Dunne, -you can be dragged in by way of world war or you can walk in by way of mutual understanding. By the first path global civilization emerges as a totalitarian project of dominance which risks a total atomic apocalypse. By the second path we prevent the first, creating global civilization through an expansion of our understanding of what it means to be human which occurs, as Dunne suggests, when wepass over to another’s religion and culture and come back with new insight into our own (Dunne, ix-xiii).

Gandhi is an example - passing over to the Sermon on the Mount and coming back to the Hindu Gita to gain new insight into it as a scripture of non-violence. Gandhi never considered becoming a Christian but his Hinduism was radically altered by bis encounter with Christianity. One could say the same (inverting the directions) for Martin Luther King Jr., who was deeply influenced by Gandhi’s understanding of non-violent resistance in the Gita. When we pass over (whether through travel, friendship or disciplined imagination) we become "strangers in a strange land" as well as strangers to ourselves - seeing ourselves through the eyes of another. Assuming the perspective of a stranger is an occasion for insight and the sharing of insight. Such cross-cultural interactions build bridges of understanding and action between persons and cultures which make cooperation possible and conquest unnecessary. "Passing over" short circuits apocalyptic confrontation and inaugurates utopian new beginnings - new beginnings for the "post-modern" world of the coming 3rd millennium. Gandhi and King are symbols of a possible style for a post-modern alienated theology.

To be an alien is to be a stranger. To be alienated is to be a stranger to oneself. We live in a world of ideological conflict in which far too many individuals (whether theists or a-theists) practice a "centered theology" in which they are too sure who they are and what they must do. Such a world has far too many answers and not nearly enough questions and self-questioning. A world divided by its answers is headed for an inevitable apocalyptic destiny. But when we are willing to become strangers to ourselves (or when we unwillingly become so), new possibilities open up where before everything was closed and hopeless. My own conviction is that the kairos of our time is one which calls forth the badly neglected ethic of "welcoming the stranger" which underlies the biblical tradition and analogously "welcoming the outcaste" which underlies the Buddhist tradition. It is this care for the stranger and the outcaste which provides the critical norm or test of authentic transcendence as self-transcendence.

Centered theologies, whether sacred or secular, theist or a-theist, are ethnocentric theologies which can only tolerate the alien or other, if at all, as a potential candidate for conversion to sameness. Centered theologies are exercises in narcissism which inevitably lead down apocalyptic paths like those that led to Auschwitz and Hiroshima. Why? Because such theologies, whether civil or religious, sacred or secular, cannot permit there to be others in the world whose way of being might, by sheer contrast, cause self-doubt and self-questioning.

Alienated theology, however, understands doubt and selfquestioning as the essence of transcendence and therefore understands that only a faith which requires one to welcome the alien or stranger is truly a utopian faith open to transcendence. According to the Genesis story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1 -9), human beings sought to grasp transcendence through the ideology of a single language and a common technological project - building a tower to heaven. But God upset their efforts by confusing their tongues, so that they could not understand each other. They became strangers to one another and so could not complete their task. The popular interpretation of this story is that the confusion of tongues was a curse and a punishment for the human sin of pride. But I am convinced that is a serious misunderstanding of its meaning. I would suggest, rather, that human beings misunderstood where transcendence lay and God simply redirected them to the true experience of transcendence which can only occur when there are strangers to be welcomed into our lives.

To put it in terms closest to home for myself, as a Christian who seeks to comes to grips with Auschwitz in the light the history of Christian anti-Judaism, I cannot be a Christian except as I am prepared to welcome Jews into my life, understanding that the very attempt to convert them would be to destroy the authenticity of my own faith by robbing me of the chance to welcome the stranger (the one who is different from me and a permanent witness to the Wholly Other in my life) who is given to me as an invitation to transcendence. For the literal meaning of "transcendence" is "to go beyond" - to go beyond my ego-centered, ethno-centered, religio-centered world to embrace that utopian world glimpsed at Pentecost, where each spoke in his or her own language and yet each is understood by all (Acts 2:1-13). The tragedy of human existence revealed by Auschwitz and Hiroshima, is that we continue to misread our situation. Given the opportunity for transcendence, the opportunity to be carried beyond ourselves into a new global human community, we continue to insist on a "technological solution," a MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) solution which at best leads to a global stalemate between cultures and at worst to an attempt at global conquest. In either case we place ourselves under the dark and threatening cloud of an atomic apocalypse which such a path must inevitably bring.

To speak personally as one living in an age of alienation, I used to think that the experience of alienation was a problem in need of resolution. I have come to see it rather as a promising opportunity, for when we have become strangers to ourselves we experience a new vulnerability and a new openness to the other - other persons, other ideas, other cultures and ways of life. To the degree that the secularization which accompanies technological civilization alienates us from our "sacred" traditions, it presents us with utopian possibilities. It also presents us with apocalyptic dangers. The greatest danger created by alienation seems to be that we shall get lost in a sea of relativism, of assuming one way is as good as another. That is just as destructive as those centered theologies which assume there is only one way. It is my conviction, however, that there is a path in between these extremes of reiativism and absolutism and that is the way of passing over and coming back. This path reveals that some ways are better than others. Those ways are marked by an openness to doubt and self-questioning and a genuine compassion for the other which leads to an ethic of audacity (chutzpa) on behalf of the alien and the stranger. These are authentic signs of encounter with the Holy.


Allen, William S. "Objective and Subjective Inhibitants in the German Resistance to Hitler" in The German Church Struggle and the Holocaust, Edited by Franklin Littell and Hubert Locke, Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1974.

Brown, Robert McAfee. Elie Wiesel-Messenger to All Humanity, Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983.

Cohen, Arthur. The Tremendum, New York: Cross Road, 1981.

Dunne, John. The Way of All the Earth, New York: Macmillan, 1972. Ellul, Jacques. Hope in Time of Abandonment, New York: Seabury, 1073.

Ellul, Jacques. Prayer and Modem Man, New York: Seabury, 1973. Fackenheim, Emil. God’s Presence in History, New York: Harper & Row, 1970.

Gordon, Sarah. Hitler, The Germans and the Jewish Question, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984.

Greenberg, Irving. "Cloud of Smoke, Pillar of Fire: Judaism, Chris-tianty, and Modernity after the Holocaust" in Auschwitzx: Beginning of a New Era?, edited by Eva Fleischner, New York: KTAV, 1977.

Littell, Franklin. The Crucifixion of the Jews, (New York: Harper & Row, 1975.

Rotenberg, Mordechai. Dialogue With Deviance, Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues, 1983.

Weisel, EIie.yt Jew Today, New York: Random House, 1978.

Annual AAR Meeting

The Ellul Studies Forum

Ellul, Christianity and Anarchism

presented by

Vernard Eller

Meeting, 9 a.m. -12 p.m.

Saturday, November 18th, 1989

Conference Room # 7

Anaheim Hilton

On Christians, Jews, and the Law

By Katharine Temple

This article has been extracted from a longer essay written for the feast of Epiphany in the January-February 1988 issue of The Catholic Worker.

More and more, I am distressed to encounter Christian teachers who, wittingly or unwittingly, seek to distance us from Judaism. For example I read articles in journals meant for people attracted to "peace and justice" concerns, claiming that Jesus did away with Mosaic Law in favor of something superior, namely, love; that He founded a new religion on a moral rather than an institutional basis; that, in cleansing the Temple, He wanted to abolish completely the purity laws; that He rescued us from patriarchal (and other) oppression in Jewish law; or that civil disobedience is rooted in Jesus’ contempt for the same divine revelation, the Law of Moses. Apart from conjuring up the long, dark shadows of Christian anti-Semitism, this quick dismissal of the Law acts to deny the truth of Christianity as being grafted on to the rich root of the olive tree of Israel (Romans 11). As a people so grafted, Hebrew Scriptures are truly for Christians a thoroughgoing revelation of grace. (Saying so is not new, for the Church has always promulgated this as doctrine, although not always with clarity and conviction.) And at the heart of the Hebrew Bible - for Moses and all the other prophets and sages, and for the whole Jewish tradition, including Jesus of Nazareth - lies the Law.

Part of the difficulty, leaving aside anti-Semitism, seems to lie in the very word "law" as the translation for the Hebrew word Torah. For Christians, "law" brings with it images of dry legalism, devoid of mercy and compassion or freedom. In the matter of Biblical Law, however, these are misguided prejudices. Jews know the Torah given to Moses at Sinai to be God’s gift to draw the people’s lives into the fullness of His. Pinchas Lapide, an orthodox Jewish theologian who devotes much time to teaching Christians about the Bible, has written: "For Jews, the Torah is a gift of grace which flows from the love of God. Accordingly, to believe or not to believe is the free choice of every individual. Certainly faithfulness to the Torah rests solely and completely on emunah - absolute, unquestioning trust in God which summons us to work as coworkers with God in the task of improving the world" (from Paul, Rabbi and Apostle). A single citation may well not convince Christians who are used to thinking of the Law as harsh and picayune and not needed for us. Nevertheless, the more one learns about Torah (or halacha, the way to walk, another Hebrew word for the Law) from those who embrace it, the less desire there is to scorn it.

Christian scholars could gain so much from the whole history of Jewish learning about Torah, but unfortunately, in many circles, its importance continues to be diminished. We are taught to read the Exodus story without following it through to Sinai, or to revere the prophets without heeding their call to return to the Law, or to study the New Testament in isolation from the Old "testament. It is little wonder that we find it hard to associate Jesus with His People, either historically or theologically.

When we do come to the New "testament, many people suggest that Jesus kept the Law when convenient, but broke it to "do his own thing" whenever it did not suit His higher purposes. I remember a paper given at a Jewish-Christian colloquium, discussing examples of the times Jesus supposedly broke the Law, and why. The intriguing part, for me, came when those examples were challenged - by the Jewish participants - not because of differences between Judaism and Christianity, but because of the lack of comprehension shown about the content of the Law. They claimed that none of the episodes under scrutiny undermined a view of Jesus as an observant Jew. Why should Christians find this conclusion surprising or unsettling? After all, St. Luke tells us that as a young man Jesus sat listening to the teachers and asking them questions, and amazed everyone with His understanding and answers (2:46-47). That is, He knew and lived by "Ibrah. From his detailed studies, Clemens Thoma, a noted Christian scholar, concludes: "Jesus, the so-called sovereign transgressor of the Law, does not exist!... He certainly did not practice a narrow-minded interpretation of it, but He also opposed all excesses. He wanted the Law to be understood in its most profound meaning and in its original context" (from/f Christian Theology of Judaism). Or, if we prefer to speak of the Christ of faith, why would the Word of God at Creation and at Sinai break His own commandments?

St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, is the one who tells us how we are to be joined with the root of Israel, and yet he is notoriously perplexing ... and has been presented as the great rejecter of the Law. In fact, many Christians, who otherwise have little use for him, rejoice in the thought that St. Paul announced the abolition of the Law. How could it be, though , that this Pharisee and student of the famous Gamaliel slighted the Law the way we do? Do we know what Jewish sources understood about the Messianic Times and what would happen to Mosaic Law then? Or how he read his Hebrew Bible and the rabbinic commentators? Once more, Pinchas Lapide can help shed some light.

”When Paul says that neither Jew nor Gentile can achieve salvation by fulfilling the commandments or performing the deeds of Torah, he is kicking doors that are already open to all Biblically knowledgeable Jews. It was self-evident to all masters of the Thl-mud [the authoritative Jewish interpretation] that salvation or participation in the coming world, as it is called in Hebrew, could be attained only through God’s gracious love."

”If, in addition, we note that this same Paul includes nomothesia, ‘the giving of the Law,’ among the gracious gifts of God that belong to Israel even after Easter, that the word telos can mean ‘goal.’ ‘conclusion,’ ‘completion,’ ‘fulfillment,’ or even the ‘final part’ of a thing, not just ‘end’; that the apostle twice indicates that Jesus lived in accordance with the Law throughout his earthly life (Rom. 15:8 and Gal. 4:4); that Paul prescribes a new halacha for his young congregations, containing dozens of statutes, regulations, prohibitions and requirements, some of which seem to be even stricter than the unascetic ordinances of orthodox rabbis - then it is no longer passible to continue talking about the so-called Pauline termination of the Law or its validity."

If such a reading of St Paul is possible for a Jew who has every reason to suspect the Church, and for whom Christianity is a heresy unnecessary for the vitality of Judaism, can we not explore with him the possibilities for ending the ignorance and distrust that keeps us from our roots?

As may be gathered from these quotes from Pinchas Lapide and Clemens Thoma, there exist good historical studies to help us begin again and which can serve to counter our stereotypes. As they also show us, however, the question of our roots, our source in the Bible, our salvation coming from the Jews, is not merely an historical study. Beyond looking to the past, we also must recognize why certain books have been preserved as Scripture to reveal to us now the living Word of God.

All these questions arise when we read passages about Jesus and the Pharisees. First of all, it is impossible for us to understand these texts without knowing something about the historical group of people known as "the Pharisees." One of the best essays is "The Pharisees" by Leo Baeck (the chief rabbi in Germany during World ^hr II). According to him, they were the reformers, the "progressives" who brought the Law to the people, who made possible their survival after the destruction of the 'femple, and who founded Judaism as it is practiced today. From this perspective, many historians think the rabbi Jesus was Himself a Pharisee and the confrontations were inter-Pharisee debates. This portrayal is a far cry from the "Pharisaical" self-righteous hypocrite that has been handed down to us. The Jewish tradition of the Pharisees seems quite unknown to the many preachers who erroneously contrast "their" religion of hang-ups, petty parochialism, bigotry and legalism, with "ours" of trust, universalism, love and authentic faith. Unbiased historical studies can help influence the way we reckon with what Jesus was saying.

It would still be too easy, though, to keep the Pharisees as historical figures, unrelated to us, to make the Pharisees into our scapegoat, just as we have treated the whole Jewish people who have followed in the Pharisees’ footsteps. This is not to dull the fact that these are judgment passages, but to suggest that revelation, unlike history, is spoken to us and not about other people in faraway places. In other words, "the hard sayings of Jesus" fall on us. The verses themselves ask for this kind of reading for most of the Pharisee conversations begin with "You." Our tendency to shift away from ourselves to "them" is realty the attempt to reject Jesus as our Lord by removing ourselves from His presence, and putting the blame elsewhere....

Jacques Ellul, Le bluff technologique [The Technological Bluff].

Paris: Hachette, 1988

Reviewed by Gabriel Vahanian, Universtiy of Strasbourg

Translated by Charles L. Creegan

This review is reprinted with permission from la Revue d’histoire el de Philosophic Religieuses 68 (1988) 4, p. 510-511.

Nothing irritates Jacques Ellul so much as being taken for someone "opposed" to technique, by detractors and admirers alike. He repeatedly shows that one cannot be opposed to technique any more than to avalanches, but nobody — or almost nobody - pays any attention. Though many arguments could be given in his defense, I will mention two, which are the most important for an understanding of this last work and the numerous other writings he has given over to this subject.

The first argument begins from the simple fact that Ellul, who certainly does not esteem technique too highly, is careful not to underestimate it. On the contrary, I would say that he overestimates it and moreover that he is well aware of this. Clearly he sees in technique a sort of bogey man, though he is wont to complain that it only succeeds as a scarecrow. But we are rather more fallen than the birds, particularly as we play sorcerer’s apprentice. In our hands technique inevitably slips its chains~or is it that we simply conspire to charge our own slips to its account? And when we foot a bill far too large for our human purses, we are not only the victims of an enormous bluff, but worse, its willing victims. Of course, we cover ourselves by a technicality: we abdicate. It is this abdication which Ellul exposes in Le bluff technologique, a volume which will no doubt be seen to form a trilogy with The Technological Society (La technique, 1954) and The Technological System (Le systeme technicien, 1975). These titles illustrate a semantic glissade, which did not happen by chance. We are bluffed, not by technique, but by the system which we erect upon it-using technique to enthrall ourselves rather than to help us toward self-evaluation. But Ellul tells us that all technical progress has its cost, and furthermore that technique does not bluff. So it is we who must bear this cost, at the price of being-along with technique?--the objects of one of the most enormous bluffs, the technological bluff: "that is, the gigantic bluff of a discourse on techniques [my emphasis-G. V.] in which we are caught up, which continually causes us to take hawks for handsaws and, what is worse, to modify our stance toward our own techniques." For after all what is a man, if not that by which we escape from technique? Even a technological society has in it a bit of social vision which escapes the embrace of its techniques-unless it is taken in, and resigns itself, under the fallacious pretext that because one is not opposed to technique, one must believe the slogan "it can do anything," and thus one must blindly let it do whatever it can.

We again owe thanks to Jacques Ellul for crossing the "t’s" and dotting the" i’s." It is not against technique that we must work, but against the discourse into which we force it beyond measure and beyond reason. Ellul takes up this task with a will. One after another, he masterfully dismantles all those technological challenges with which we have been ceaselessly plied and with which we are still being tempted, though in fact even the technological fairy has lost her way-if she is not making us lose our heads! He addresses four issues, which all participate in the growing uncertainty about the effects of an invasive, unassimilated technique: the ambivalence of technical progress; the unpredictable nature of development; the vicious circle constituted by technique and its insidious influence on politics and science or the economy; and finally the contradictions inherent in the system itself. The upshot, aside from spiritual impoverishment, is a marginalization approaching abrogation of culture. Without flinching, Ellul writes: "a technological culture is impossible." He believes that "culture is necessarily humanistic or it does not exist," and deciares categorically that "no bridge between the two is possible."

Then are we irremediably condemned-irrecoverable? One would never guess Ellul’s reply. It is a firm no! He is categorical, though his hope rests only on the fact that in the last analysis, "the gigantic bluff is self-contradictory” and "has nothing to do with the fact that technique yields very satisfying and useful fruits, as I have never denied." And I call attention to the fact that the emphasis is Ellul’s: he brings me to the second of the reasons which I invoked above against those who unfairly accuse him of being opposed to technique. He will pardon me for expressing it in the well-known formula:

A man more Utopian than Ellul has never been bom!*

* The last line is an idiomatic translation. A literal translation of the French would read: "More Utopian than Ellul, you die."

** The Technological Bluff is scheduled to be published in English by Eerdmans s before the end of 1990.

Contributions Welcome

Original essays for the Forum, responses to previous Forum essays, book reviews, etc. are welcome. Essays should be submitted on 35 or 5.25 inch IBM compatible format disks along with hard copy if at all possible. Word processing files from Word Perfect, Microsoft Word, Multimate, Xywrite, Nota Bene, and Wordstar can be used directly. Also Ascii and DCA formats. If this is not possible, just send typed copy to Darrell Fasching, 15811 Cottontail Place, Thmpa Florida 33624.

Forum Response

Vernard Eller’s Response to Katharine Temple

Iwas not particularly disconcerted by Katharine Temple’s disappointment over my book - especially since Ellul himself and many other top reviewers have given it much more favorable notice. However, Temple’s review may provide me opportunity to clarify some matters.

I propose that temple has misread the significance of the fact that Ellul’s book bears the name Ellul, while mine bears the name Eller. The similarity of name is not meant to suggest a similar qualify of mind and work. Quite the contrary, my name is different from his to keep it clear that my work represents an order of intellect and scholarship entirely other than his.

I never ever, for one moment, have seen myself as an intellectual peer, colleague, or competitor with Jacques ElluL I don’t even see myself as an Ellul scholar, someone equipped to meet him on his own level in the way of analysis, critique, and the citing of other authorities pro and con. No, my way is simply to read Ellul’s books (usually only once), let whatever ideas adhere adhere, and then also let them resurface and be put to use as they will. I have not researched and claim no "command" of his literature that enables me to cite chapter and verse on one point or another. I have no technical expertise in any of Ellul’s fields — have made no effort to keep up with, let alone make scholarly contributions to, Ellulian studies at large.

My one advantage, a gift most precious to me, is perhaps that, from the word Go (which was apparently Ellul’s Christian Century article of June 1968) I have heard Ellul speaking on the same wavelength to which I was already attuned by virtue of my biblical commitment and "sect-type" church background. So, whenever I have difficulty understanding Ellul’s "words," I simply read his mind - and usually come off understanding him better than his scholarly proficients do. I am of the firm conviction that Ellul’s "simple faith" is much more of the essence than is his "scholarly expertise." And I intend to stay plugged into Ellul on the end at which I started and where I have found so much satisfaction for more than twentyyears now.

I really believe that the burden of "temple’s complaint against me is that I wrote my type of book (biblical theology for the lay reader) rather than hers (technical stratospherics for the academician). Mine nowhere purports to be that of an Ellul scholar addressing other Ellul scholars like herself. No, the greatest satisfaction I feel about my book is that it introduces the thought of such thinkers as Ellul, Barth, Bonhoeffer, the Blumhardts, Kierkegaard (plus Hengle, Bomkamm, Kee, and others) to a lay audience that would never consider itself competent to tackle such scholars through their own scholarly writings. If I have a contribution to make to the cause of Jacques Ellul, it will not be through the medium of technical papers; it will be in opening his thought to Christian laypeople, those in best position for profiting from it [As a convenience, I shall hereafter identify the above named thinkers as "my people."]

What I most wish "temple (and other reviewers like her) would have been willing to recognize is that basically my book, from start to finish, is biblical exposition. I don’t think there is a spot in the book where the reader can be more than a few pages away from biblical exposition. The essential use to which I put each and every one of "my people" is as biblical exegetes, nothing more - not ethical theorists, not political scientists, not speculative theologians, none of that Most pointedly put, the thesis of my book is that the concept of Christian Anarchy can be derived (and must be derived) solely from the biblical faith. And this has the effect of making it accessible to any Bible-believing Christian, quite apart from intellectual attainment or technical expertise.

Consequently, the history and analysis of anarchical theory (which "temple demands of me) is quite beside the point. The survey of current ethical theory (implied in the demand to include Yoder and Hauerwas) would actually confuse and lose me my audience. The suggestion that I must show myself a scholarly expert in these professional fields before being allowed to speak about Christian Anarchy - strikes me as the worst sort of intellectual elitism.

Consequently, too, a study of the "Christianity," of Christendom - which is far from the same thing as biblical Christianity [see Ellul’s The Subversion of Christianity] - that "Christianity" is quite beside the point and would, again, completely sidetrack my book.

It was this finding of Christian Anarchy in practice all over the place that I understand "temple to have been after by faulting me for not naming William Stringfellow (Episcopalian) or Dorothy Day (Roman Catholic) among the blessed - and for dismissing "whole traditions" out of hand. In the first place, I never did set out to list "the blessed"; I set out to find noted Christian thinkers who have left us major deposits of authoritative biblical exposition that point toward a concept of Christian Anarchy. I respect all four of temple’s people (Stringfellow, Day, Yoder and Hauerwas) and know a couple of them personally. I doubt that there is one of them who would agree that their work in biblical theology puts them in the league of Ellul, Bonhoeffer, Barth, and Kierkegaard. And as to dismissing whole traditions, why does temple pick on me for that one? Ellul (let along Barth and Kierkegaard) has done that much more thoroughly than I ever could.

There is much more to which I perhaps ought to give answer; but I will be content to address the one charge of my making tax resisters my main target - while she knows a number of tax resisters who are truly nice people.

Again, that is completely beside the point. Temple refuses to recognize that every single time I talk about tax resistance I am doing biblical exegesis (either doing an exegesis of my own or sharing one from the expert exegetes of "my people"). And the reason the tax question comes up time and again is because (as best I can discover) the tax passages are the sole representation of the New testament speaking specifically to the basic issues of revolutionary protest and civil disobedience.

Yet I never express anything less than good opinions of the moral character of tax resisters I have known. My one charge is that the biblical counsel is against their position rather than supportive of it If I am wrong, my error could be rebutted without any anger or ill will form either side. All that is wanted or needed is a reputable biblical exposition that supports tax resistance. Yet the fact is that I have caught plenty of flak like temple’s - while, no more than she does, has anyone else shown a willingness to dispute the matter biblically.

As I say, I can take temple’s review without too much consternation, knowing that Jacques Ellul, some Ellul scholars, and other expert reviewers read mine as a book quite different from the one she apparently read. I do think it important for readers of Ellul Studies to know that temple’s is very for from being the unanimous opinion of my book.

Michael Bauman’s Response to Jacques Ellul

Regarding Professor Ellul’s objections to my review (My numbers correspond to his.):

1. Ellul is wrong. I did not accuse him of saying that Christians ought to feel guilty abut what Marxist critics allege concerning Christianity or Christians. As a politically conservative, free-market Christian, I denied that we Christians ought to feel Socialist-in-spired guilt because the Socialist criticisms directed at us are radically flawed. I said so as a preface both to my complaints about what Ellul does say and to some of the criticism Socialists have made with which he agrees.

2. While rehearsing the Communist critique, of Christian practice, Ellul occasionally (and, I think, rightly) registers his dissent, as, for example, he does when he notes the manipulative way Communists side with the poor. He does not do so, however, when addressing the issue of justice. The communist critique writes Ellul, "was obviously based on justice. In every respect our society is unjust for both individuals and groups. It produces inequality on all levels: inequality of opportunity, income, power, culture" (p. 6). Quite clearly, these words indicate that inequality is an injustice and (conversely) that justice entails equality, things Ellul says he never wrote.

3. I did not "accuse" Ellul of saying that Communists are on the side of the poor I quoted him. Further, contrary to Ellul’s assertion that he does not say that Communists help the poor, he himself writes that "they accomplish what Christianity preaches but fails to practice" (emphasis added, p. 6).

4. Ellul objects that the accusation that our "unjust society is the result of twenty centuries of Christianity" is one concerning which he "wrote clearly that this is the accusation hurled at Christianity by Communists and that if many ceased to be Christians it is because this argument was accepted." He most certainly did not In the passage in question (pp. 5-6), Ellul is speaking about why many have become Marxist Christians. He nowhere mentions either the possibility or the actuality of their ceasing to be Christians, for this reason or for any other. (Nor does he pause here to distance himself from this Marxist challenge.)

5. Despite Ellul’s opposite assertion, I am well aware of "the clever tactics and grand strategy of Lenin." Unlike Ellul, however, I do not believe that Lenin’s means are compatible with Lenin’s goals or could ever lead to them. I hold the same view of ail Communist regimes. Five-year plans, Gulags, iron curtains, military expansionism, cultural revolutions, perestroika, glasnost, and state-sponsored terrorism cannot and will not yield a worker’s paradise, a proletariat without chains, or a world without the state. I contended and do contend, that a radical incompatibility exists between Communist ends and means. Barbarism will not yield humanitarian or therapeutic results.

Further, contrary to Ellul, discourse and its uses most certainly are a part of Communist tactics. That is Lenin.

6. Not all, perhaps not even most, of the choices humans make are respectable or are worthy of a Christian’s respect Some choices are ignorant and inadequately informed; some are counter productive; some are wicked. Despite his intention, Belo’s choice to be a Communist is all these things. I do not respect it anymore than I respect someones choice to be a slave trader which I consider to be very much the same thing. I challenge such choices and I excoriate them. Contrary to Ellul, while I respect and value choosing, I do not value all human choices, especially this one. I cannot side with someone who writes that Belo’s choice to be a Communist "clearly merits our respect," that it is "a political choice," one "which we do not question!" (p. 86).

7. If the distinction between "make" and "create" is so fundamental to Ellul’s view of the nature and origin of money (a distinction that in economics I contend is truly insignificant), and if I am mistaken to use the word "create" concerning Caesar’s role in this activity, then perhaps Ellul should enlighten his translator to that fact, for Ellul’s text does say - despite his insistence that he "never wrote what Mr. Bauman thinks to have read!" - that" Jesus means that Caesar, as creator of this money, is its master” (emphasis his, p. 167).

8. You may still number me among those who consider Christianity a religion and who deny that "biblical revelation necessarily entails iconoclasm, that is, the destruction of all religions [and] beliefs" (emphasis added, p. 2). From my position on this issue, however, one should not deduce, as does Ellul, that I "know nothing of Kierkegaard or Barth"! One could more accurately deduce that I reject them and that I have reasons for doing so.

In addition, I contend that not all the working definitions that scholars advance (much less all definitions) are acceptable. Some, for example, are unjustifiable question-begging and need to be discarded. Some debates are won (and lost) by definition. As a trained literary critic, one who opposes the unnecessary proliferation of definitions and the degeneration of language that results, I did, and do, reject Ellul’s idiosyncratic use of the term "ideology." to do so is not, as Ellul charges, "simplistic."

As a trained historian, I equally as firmly reject his reconstruction of the rise or capitalism and its subsequent development, beseigement, and defense. Some of my reasons for doing so are outlined in EA. Hayek’s Capitalism and the Historians (1954).

9. By mentioning the economists I did, I was intentionally endorsing their relevance to what Ellul calls "the current debate" between Marxism and Christianity, especially Gilder, Smith, and BastiaL That Smith and Bastiat are not our contemporaries is quite insignificant Current debates can often be resolved (or at least set in their proper light) by invoking the wisdom of the past Insight was not bom with our generation. I only regret now that I did not mention Whittaker Chambers in this context, a man who is not an economist, but whose views are wonderfully pertinent

10. a: That liberal capitalism did not further impoverish the poor, I refer you to such books as Michael Novak’s The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism (1982), pp. 16-22.

b: That the wealthy do not prosper at the expense of the poor, I refer you to such books as George Gilder’s Wealth and Poverty (1981) and his The Spirit of Enterprise (1984), especially the former. Both books also demonstrate that Christian values are capitalist values.

c: Nineteenth-century Christianity was not a monolithic entity about which we can make generalizations like Ellul’s, which alleges that it served merely to justify the failures of capitalist societies and systems. The evangelical united front in America, for example, served to ameliorate - not defend - such shortcomings.

d: We agree!

Finally, Ellul need not worry about my students or my biblical exegesis. The failings of his own anarchist reading of Scripture, however, I will expose elsewhere. I shall do the same regarding what I consider his unjustifiably incomplete break from Marxist taxonomy and methodology, and from the ideology that necessarily attaches to them.


Bibliographic Notes on Theology and Technology

by Carl Mitcham and Jim Grote

Seventh in a series. Contributions welcome.
Please send books, articles, or notes themselves to:
Carl Mitcham
Philosophy and Technology Studies Center
Polytechnic University
333Jay Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Berry, Thomas. The Dream of the Earth. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1988. Pp. 247. The natural, evolving world is our most important community and teacher. Its chief lesson is a respect for the diversity of all forms of life. Religions, for example, behave like natural species, offering unique insights into the evolutionary process. Tfechnology, however, in its materialist bias tends to eclipse the spiritual dimensions of our "self-transcending" universe. Reviewed by Kenneth Woodward in Newsweek (June 5, 1989). See also an interview with Berry by Bernard Connaughton and Jo Roberts, "Thomas Berry: Dreaming of a New Earth," Catholic Worker 56, no. 2 (March-April 1989), pp. 1 and 6.

Berry, Thomas. "Wonderworld as Wasteworld: The Earth in Deficit," Cross Currents 35, no. 4 (Winter 1985-1986), pp. 408-422. Alternative technologies need to be harnessed within the context of a "planetary socialism" to insure the survival of the planet Religion is an integral part of this project "If this sense of the sacred character of the natural world as our primary revelation of the divine is our first need, the second is to diminish our emphasis on redemption experience in favor of a greater emphasis on creation processes.... A third need is to provide a way of thinking about ‘progress’ that would include the entire earth community" (p.417).

Berry, Thomas. "Thomas Berry: A Special Section," Cross Currents 37, nos. 2-3 (Summer-Fall 1987), pp. 179-239. Vintage Berry. Creation mythologies which emphasize an ecological motif are needed to counterbalance the Christian preoccupation with redemptive mythologies which have provided the primary energy behind the Western industrial/technological motif. This symposium includes three articles by Berry - "Creative Energy," "The New Story: Comments on the Origin, Identification and Transmission of Values," and "The Dream of the Earth: Our Wiy Into the Future.” Also included are two laudatory critiques of Berry’s opus - Brian Swimme’s "Berry’s Cosmology" and John Grim’s Time, History, Historians in Thomas Berry’s Vision."

Cobb, John B., Jr., and David Ray Griffin. Process Theology; An Introductory Exposition. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976. Pp. 192. Chapter four, "A Theology of Nature,"argues that process theology provides an ecological attitude that substance-oriented theologies fail to provide. "Accordingly, if all actualities, not simply human ones, are constituted by the enjoyment of experience, and hence are to some degree ends in themselves, then we should, to the appropriate degree, treat them as ends and not merely as means to our ends" (p. 77).

Easching, Darrell J. The Thought of Jacques Ellul: A Systematic Exposition. New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1981. Pp. xxxviii,225. Doctoral dissertation under Gabriel Albanian. Ellul’s "sociology of the sacred" (cf. The New Demons) mediates his dialectic of sociological analysis and theological proclamation. Ellul is not critical of technology per se, but of the "transfer of the sacred into technology." That which desacralizes a given reality becomes the new sacred reality. For example, the Church desacralized nature, the Bible (sola scriptura) desacralized the Church, and technology has desacralized the Bible. The task of Ellul’s theology is to desacralize technique. Reviewed by Jim Grote in Horizons 14, no. 2 (Fhll 1987), pp. 405-406.

Gill, David W. The Word of God in the Ethics of Jacques Ellul Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1984. Pp. xvi, 213. Doctoral dissertation attempting to reconcile Ellul’s positive biblical ethics with his constant affirmation that "there are no normative ethics of the good, but there are ethics of grace, which are quite the opposite" (p. 170). This dichotomy in Ellul’s thought partially explains why Ellul has been "so deficient in suggestions of ways to counter technique" (p. 98). Reviewed by Jim Grote in Horizons 14, no. 2 (Fall 1987), pp. 405-406.

Granberg-Michaelson, Wesley. Ecology and Life; Accepting Our Environmental Responsibility. Vfaco, TX: Word Books, 1988. Pp. 200. Popular plea for environmental responsibility. Includes an appendix of articles: Lynn White, Jr.’s "The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis," Francis Schaefer’s "Substantial Healing," Bruce Birch’s "Nature, Humanity, and Biblical Theology: Observations Toward a Relational Theology of Nature," Vincent Rossi’s "Theocentrism: The Cornerstone of Christian Ecology," James Rimbach’s "All Creation Groans: Theology/Ecology in St Paul," and H. Paul Santmire’s "God’s Joyous Valuing of Nature."

Hall, Douglas John. Imaging God; Dominion as Stewardship. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans; and New York: Friendship Press, 1986. Pp. viii, 248. Biblical, historical, and theological examination of the term imago del Rejects a substan-tialistic conception of the image of God (imago as noun) in favor of a relational conception (imago as verb). We best image God by serving creation, not mastering it. Quotes Dostoevsky’s lather Zosima: "Man love the animals.... Do not pride yourself on your superiority to the animals, they are without sin" (p. 201).

Hall, Douglas John. The Stewardship of Life in the Kingdom of Death. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1988. Pp.xvi, 144. Revised edition of Hall’s Christian Mission: The Stewardship of Life in the Kingdom of Death (New York: Friendship Press, 1985) and sequel to Hall’s earlier The Steward: A Biblical Symbol Come of Age (New York: Friendship Press, 1982). Contains five theological meditations on passages in Scripture relating to the Church’s mission to foster life on earth, not just to anticipate heaven. "Very soon in its history, Christianity moved away from the Hebraic spirituality of earthly well-being expressed in this scripture [Is. 65:17-25] and toward a kind of etherealization of the goal of belief.... The question that confronts us today is how we can recover the earthward orientation of the faith of the exodus, incarnation, and cross" (p. 128).

Harder, Allen. "Ecology, Magic and the Death of Man,” Christian Scholar’s Review 1, no. 2 (Winter 1971), pp. 117-131. Naturalism and humanism offer little possibility of healing the environmental crisis that is often blamed on Christianity (cf. Ian

McHarg and Lynn White, Jr.). If man is merely a "pile of chemicals" engaged in the struggle of natural selection, then it is unlikely such a self-understanding will produce an enlightened ecological consciousness. Traditional theism, properly understood, provides the only genuine attack on "pollution." The command to subdue the earth in Gen. 1:28 should be reinterpreted as a command to tame the earth. See the dialogue of the prince and the fox in Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince. "One only understands the things that one tames" (p. 129).

Kass, Leon R. "Evolution and the Bible; Genesis 1 Revisited," Commentary 68, no. 5 (November 1988), pp. 29-39. The order of appearance of the creatures in Genesis 1 is intentionally incongruous in order to force the reader’s attention away from the temporality of the six days to the intelligibility of the six days. The primary purpose of the structure of the six days is an ethical one, namely to teach the non-divinity of the cosmos (contra Aristotle, i.e. autonomous reason), the moral amibiguity of God’s highest creature (who has the "least fixed" path of motion), the morally neutral nature of nature (revelation replaces natural law), and the non-etemity of the cosmos (and hence the non-etemity of the species). Far from contradicting evolution, Genesis 1 supports many of the findings of modem science as well as provides an origin of species which evolution fails to provide. Provocative theological support for modern science from an unlikely source - Kass is a student of Leo Strauss with doctorates in medicine and philosophy.

Lampe, G. W. H. "The New Testament Doctrine of Ktisis," Scottish Journal of Theology Yl, no. 4 (December 1964), pp. 449-462. Emphasizes the anthropocentric doctrine of creation in the Old and New Testaments. Redemption is "logically and theologically" prior to creation. Lampe goes so far as to label creation as the "raw material" for human spiritual development. However, passages such as Rom. 8:18ff. and Col. 1:15ff. show the strong interconnection between the drama of redemption and its effects on creation - both in terms of the fall and the resurrection. In terms of the fall Lampe comments: "Hence creation is subjected to meaninglessness; and the more man’s technical capacity to subdue nature improves, the greater the frustration which he imposes on it (p. 457). Later published in German in Kerygma und Dogma 11, no. 1 (January 1965), pp. 21-32.

Lerner, Michael. Surplus Powerlessness. Oakland, CA: Institute for Labor and Mental Health, 1986. Pp. xii, 350. Critique of modem industrial society within the tradition of the Frankfort school by the editor of the Jewish political magazine, TMam. Progressive ideologies of the recent past (science, Marxism, psychoanalysis) have been assimilated into cultures of technological domination. Biblical religion offers the only real alternative to the oppressive individualism fostered by modem society. "The very way that empiricism and scientism have come to dominate contemporary thought make it likely that religious communities will remain the major challenge to one-dimensional thniking" (p. 276). Emphasizes the crucial role religious tradition and ritual play in building community. Favorable review by Jim Grote in Catholic Worker 56, no. 4 (June-July 1989), p. 6.

Mascall,E.L. Christian Theology and Natural Science. London: Longmans, Green, 1956. Pp. xvii, 328. The notion of a fundamental conflict between science and theology is baseless. Approaches this thesis by examining several topics, including "The Nature of Scientific Theories," "Creation in Theology and Science," "Modern Physics and Indeterminacy," "The Body and the Soul," and "Man’s Origin and Ancestry." Scholarly and technical study. Useful bibliography.

Oakley, Francis. "Christian Theology and the Newtonian Science: The Rise of the Concept of the Laws of Nature," Church History 30, no. 4 (December 1961), pp. 433-457. Ttaces the emergence of modem, natural science to the theological "condemnations of 1277" by Stephen Tompier, Bishop of Paris, and Robert Kilwardby, Archbishop of Canterbury which formally condemned the "metaphysical necessitarianism of Aristotle and his Arabic commentators." Ironically, Newtonian science owes its origin to the triumph of Judao-Christian revelation over Greek philosophy in the medieval, nominalist theology of the fourteenth century. The voluntarist conception of natural law as imposed law is rooted in the juridical, Semetic concept of law which presupposes an omnipotent Creator-God. This Semetic concept of law allowed the Newtonian view wherein the world operates as a lifeless machine driven by God’s will. The Greeks assumed nature to be an intelligent organism operating on its own immanent laws with no need of an omnipotent God. "The exact significance of this becomes even more apparent if we bear in mind Needham’s parallel conclusion that one of the crucial reasons for the failure of the Chinese to develop a natural science comparable with that of the West was their prior failure to produce a comparable concept of laws imposed upon nature, and that this latter failure was, in turn, the outcome of their lack of any conception of a personal, legislating Creator-God" (p. 451). Reprinted in Daniel O’Connor and Francis Oakley, eds., Creation: The Impact of An Idea (New York: Scribner, 1969), pp. 54-83.

Panikkar, Raimundo. "Some Theses on Technology," Logos, vol. 7 (1886), pp. 115-124. Discusses technology from the standpoint of its non-neutrality, autonomy, homocentrism, nominalism, quantification of reality, etc. Heideggerian analysis. "The realm of science is the measurable. Science proceeds by measuring. We can only measure something if we succeed in reducing the phenomenon in question to discrete units.... What cannot be measured does not ‘count.’ The pun is revealing" (pp. 122-123).

”Repurposing Education; The American College in the Ecological Age." Religion and Intellectual Life 6, no. 2 (Winter 1989), pp. 7-69. Symposium devoted to Thomas Berry’s article, "The American College in the Ecological Age," which originally appeared in Berry’s The Dream of the Earth (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1988). According to Berry, "the American college may be considered a continuation, at the human level, of the self-education processes of the earth itself (p. 7). Colleges must create an integrated curriculum modelled on the earth’s evolutionary process. What is needed is a "functional cosmology" that includes the spiritual realm within geological processes. Respondents include Everett Gendler’s "A Terrestrial Dogmatism?" Dell Hymes’ "From an Anthropologist," William Nichols’ "The Limits of Ecological Vision," Mary Evelyn Tucker’s "New Perspectives for Spirituality," Betty Reardon’s "Getting from Here to There," and Theodor Benfey’s "A Scientist Comments."

Santmire, H. Paul. The Travail of Nature; The Ambiguous Ecological Promise of Christian Theology. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985. Pp.xiii,274. Extended critique of Gordon Kaufman’s "A Problem for Theology: The Concept of Nature," Harvard Theological Review 65, no. 3 (July 1972), pp. 337-366. Kaufman emphasizes the Kantian distinction between nature and history and argues that Christian theology finds little value in nature per se, other than as a field for moral activity. In contrast, Santmire provides historical documentation for an ecological motif in Christian theology (Irenaeus, Augustine, St. Francis) interacting with an anti-ecologicaL spiritual motif (Origen, Aquinas, Luther, Barth, Chardin). "The narratives of biblical experience can be read primarily in terms of the metaphor of migration to a good land and the metaphor of fecundity (the ecological motif) wherever that seems feasible, rather than primarily in terms of the metaphor of ascent (spiritual motif)" (p. 189). Santmire critiques the "asymmetrical" status of the spiritual motif wherein nature and spirit are created, yet only spirit is redeemed. Favorable review by Jerry K. Robbins, Theology Today 42, no. 4 (January 1986), pp. 537-540.

Smolarski, Dennis C. "The Spirituality of Computers," Spirituality Today 40, no. 4 (Winter 1988), pp. 292-307. Rehashes the old instrumental view of technology as a value-free tool. "Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People" (p. 295).

Staudenmaier, John M., SJ. "United States Technology and Adult Commitment'," Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 19, no. 1 (January 1987), pp. 1-34. Fascinating study of the relationship between modem technology and the current crisis in adult commitment (i.e. rising divorce ratesand declining religious vocations). For example, standardized mass production leads to an atrophy of negotiating skills which results in an inability to resolve interpersonal conflicts. Or, technical complexity creates feelings of inadequacy which translate into a lack of confidence in choosing lifetime vocations. Or, the extraordinary precision required by electronic systems fosters a pattern of "little tolerance" in personal relationships. Or finally, electricity’s creation of twenty-four hour "days" produces an inability to live through "dark times" and an obsession with the quality of relationships. "Relentless clarity kills adult commitment" (p. 24). Practical advice to restore a sense of personal vocation includes the suggestion of fasting from electricity once a week and telling stories by candlelight instead.

Stewart, Claude Y., Jr. Nature in Grace; A Study in the Theology of Nature. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1983. Pp. xx, 318. Dissertation analyzing the three main contemporary theologies of nature: H. Paul Santmire’s "Neo-Reformation Theology of Nature," John B. Cobb, Jr.’s "Whiteheadian Theology of Nature," and Teilhard de Chardin’s "Neo-Catholic Theology of Nature." Attempts to bridge the nature-history dichotomy with a metaphysic of the divine Agent. "The structures and processes of nature, as well as the drama of history, are sacramental in character. Through both nature and history, albeit in different ways, the divine intending is realized" (p. 291). Exhaustive bibliography on the theology of nature.

Thevoz, Jean-Marie. "Apport de la theologie protestante a la bioethique" [The contribution of protestant theology to bioethics], Reseaux, nos. 53-54 (1987-1988), pp. 131-146. Four features of protestant theology - emphasis on the otherness of God, interpretation of Scripture, concern for anthropology, and openess to dialogue with the real world - have contributed to interdisciplinary, ecumencial discussions in bioethics. Part of a special issue, edited by Gilbert Hottois, on "La Bioethique, Une nouvelle generation de problemes ethiques?"

Wright, Richard. "Responsibility for the Ecological Crisis," Christian Scholar’s Review 1, no. 1 (Fall 1970), pp. 35-40. Rebuttal to Ian McHarg and Lynn White, Jr.’s thesis that Christianity is responsible for the ecological crisis. An earlier version of this paper appeared in Bioscience 20, no. 15 (August 1970).

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Eugene Fisher, "The Jewish People in Christian Preaching: A Catholic Perspective"

Krister Stendahl, "The Jewish People in Christian Preaching: A Protestant Perspective"

Darrell Fasching, "The Church, The Synagogue and the Gospel"

Samuel Sandmel, "Jews, Christians and the Future: What May We Hope For?"

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The Ellul Studies Forum is published twice a year, (June and November), by the Department of Religious Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620

Editor: Darrell J. Fusching

Editorial Advisory Board

Dan Clendenin, William Tyndale College

Cliff Christians, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

David Gill, New College Berkeley

Joyce Hankes, University of Scranton

Carl Mitcham, Polytechnic University

Gabriel Wtmniun, University Strasbourg

Issue #5 Jun 1990 — The Utopian Theology of Gabriel Vahanian

A Forum For Scholarship on Theology in a Technological Civilisation
June 1990 Issue #5 ©1990 Department of Religious Studies,
University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620

In This Issue

Book Reviews

The Struggle for America’s Soul: Evangelicals, Liberals and Secularism by Robert Wuthnow Reviewed by David Russell p. 2

Forum I: The Utopian Theology of Gabriel Vahanian

Gabriel Vahanian’s Utopian Connection — Speaking of God, the Human and Technology by Darrell J. Fasching p. 3

God and Utopia

An Essay Review by Lonnie Kliever p. 4

God Anonymous p.5

An Essay Review by Philippe Aubert

Theology of Culture: Tillich’s Quest for a New Religious Paradigm by Gabriel Vahanian p* 7

Forum U

Law and Ethics in Ellul’s Theology . by Sylvain Dujancourt p. 10

Notes on the Catholic Church and Technology by Sergio Silva p. 11

Bibliography by Cari Mitcham and Jim Grote p. 13

From The Editor

Welcome to issue number five of The Ellul Studies Forum. Next to Jacques

Ellul, probably no theologian has written as consistently and persistently on the theme of theology and technology as Gabriel Vahanian. It is no accident that Ellul sees him as the most important theologian writing in France today and describes his utopian theology as our only hope for the future. From his 1961 book The Death of God through God and Utopia: The Church in a Technological Civilization (1977) to his newest Dieu anonyme, ou la peur des mots (God Anonymous, or Fear of Words, 1989) the singular underlying and unifying theme has been the impact of technological civilization on Christian faith, theology and ethics.

The power of Vahanian’s work lies in the fact that he does not simply take technology as one more topic on the agenda of Christian theology but rather explores the way in which technology alters the inner texture of theological thought itself. In so doing he reveals the inner affinity between the utopianism of technology and the eschatological utopianism of Biblical faith - an affinity whose common term is the human capacity for speech, for the word. Exploring the implications of his work is the main theme of this issue and the focus ofForum I. This section is introduced with my own brief essay on the significance of Wianian’s work. Then Lonnie Kleiver, of Southern Methodist University, gives us a masterful essay review of Vahanian’s book God and Utopia and Phillipe Aubert, a pastor of the Reformed Church of Alsace, does likewise for Vhhanian’s new book (not yet released in English) Dieu anonyme, ou lapeur des mots. This is followed with a short essay by Vhhanian on Paul Tillich’s ambivalent treatment of the utopian theme. The result, I hope, will be a clearer picture of the significance of Vahanian’s utopian theology.

In Forum II we have two further essays. The first, by Sylvain Dujancourt (a student of Vahanian’s at the University of Strasbourg), outlines the significance of "Law and Ethics in Ellul’s Theology." The second, by Sergio Silva, a professor of theology at the Catholic University of Chile, compares the theological understanding of technology in recent Papal pronouncements with the documents of the Second Vhtican Council of the Catholic Church. Finally, as usual, thanks to the diligent work of Jim Grote and Carl Mitcham, we have the latest installment in their continuing bibliographical annotation of current work in the area of theology and technology.

I hope all Forum readers will find this issue of interest. I wish to express my appreciation to Charles Cfeegah for his fine translations of two articles for this issue. Finally, please note that there will be a meeting of Ellul scholars on Friday morning preceeding the annual AAR Conference to be held in New Orleans this year. See page 6 for details.

Darrell J. Fasching, Editor

N.B. All essays in this issue have been modified as needed to conform to current standards of inclusive language.

Book Reviews

The Struggle for America ’s Soul: Evangelicals, Liberals, and Secularism. By Robert Wuthnow.

Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989,189pp., $16.95 paper.

by David L. Russell

William Tyndale College, Farmington Hills, MI.

The ever growing interest in American Evangelicalism has resulted in a smorgasbord of thought-provoking publications. While many new historiographies continue to be published on evangelicalism and fundamentalism, an impressive number of works are now being produced from within sociological circles. In a review article in the Evangelical Studies Bulletin (Fall 1989) historian Mark Noll quips, "It is becoming increasingly difficult for historians of religion to maintain their prejudices against sociologists." The gist if this statement has to do with the positive impression sociologists of religion have been making, not only upon the field of religious history, but upon the varied fields of theology as well. - --

At the top of the list of impressive publications from a sociological perspective is this most recent work by Robert Wuthnow, professor of sociology at Princeton University. Interestingly, this book follows one year behind his preceding publication, The Restructuring of American Religion: Society and Faith since World War II. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), considered to be the most concise history of American religion since World War IL

Wuthnow’s analysis is centered around the dynamics of two competing groups in American society, conservative evangelicals and religious liberals, both of which are influenced by a seemingly progressive secularism, to begin with, the author identifies three main sectors at work in American society: 1) The public sector, 2) The private sector, and 3) The voluntary sector. While many social theorists identify only two sectors, public and private, it is Wuthnow who opts, for the voluntary sector. It is his contention that the voluntary sector possesses aspects of both the public and the private sectors. The Church functions in the voluntary sector, however, the changing dynamics in society are changing the role and relationship of such voluntary organizations to society overall. In light of the relationship of the Church as a voluntary organism in American society there are added dynamics at work within the Church which increasingly make ambiguous and complicate that relationship. Wuthnow identifies it in the historic break between religious conservatives and religious liberals as far back as the years immediately following the Civil War, but perhaps as far back as the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century. The contested terrain (chapter 3) of conservatives and liberals has continually drawn them "....into the public sphere in recent years" (p.41) yet with little progress in terms of arriving at a common ground.

Ongoing debates continue over the abortion issue, prayer in the public schools, gay and lesbian rights, and the nuclear arms race to mention just a few. Instead of arriving at constructive conclusions conservatives and liberals resort to a tit for tat game of "Argumentum Ad Hominem." What, then, is the end result? According to Wuthnow, it "....has been a travesty of the profession of love, forgiveness, and mutual forbearance" (p.64). Wuthnow uses the Presbyterian Church as an institutional model for the past and present struggles between conservatives and liberals not for the reason that there have been no struggles in any of the other denominations, but mainly because of the magnitude of the struggle for Presbyterians. Division has haunted the Presbyterian Church from the days of the "New Light" versus the "Old Light" controversy during the First Great Awakening to the present day divisions between Presbyterian conservatives and Presbyterian liberals. The possibility of reconciliation, while hoped for by some, is in Wuthnow’s opinion, slim to none. He in fact argues that the cleavage between these two warring parties is unfortunate for the reason that the conflict is skewing efforts to reconcile and more clearly see the biblical mandates for love and understanding.

In part II Wuthnow turns his attention to the "Dynamics of the Secular." The focus of this section deals with the ways in which the state, the media, and education all effect the function and role of religion in American society. In particular is the concern for the tendency of the state to drive individuals into various forms of civil privatism.

Conversely, there has been a privatization of America’s faith attributable to many factors, including the increasingly pluralistic nature of American religion, and the greater identification of personal faith with the private sector. Interestingly enough Wuthnow accuses the widening appeal of the religious mass media of contributing to the privatization of faith. The televised religious format becomes a surrogate for the real thing. In other words, who needs the First Baptist Church down the road when you can tune into the "Glass Cathedral" on the tube? In this sense the religious couch-potato can receive dynamic Bible teaching and words of encouragement while maintaining a detached commitment obliging themselves only to mailing in an occasional check.

The battle between "Science and the Sacred" (chapter 7) has also been a contributing factor in the divisions between conservatives and liberals. For this study, the presumption that science is a contributing factor in the advancement of secularism seems to be refuted by the evidence that Wuthnow presents. The available evidence appears to indicate that there is a greater likelihood of secularization within the disciplines of the social sciences and the humanities.

In summary, Wuthnow poses a challenge to the evangelical academic community to continue working at developing credible scholarship and the utilization of the resources at their disposal. According to Wuthnow, "the intellectual community and the public at large have a tremendous interest in knowing more about evangelical Christianity" (p.175). So what seems to be the problem in achieving greater goals in the evangelical community? Wuthnow seems to indicate that more reconciliation needs to take place between evangelical Christians and liberal Christians.

Overall, I found this work well reasoned and adequate in its analysis of evangelicals and liberals. However, at times I got the sense that Wuthnow failed to clearly discriminate between fundamentalists and evangelicals and as a result he seemed to define conservative evangelicals as fundamentalists. I do believe that Wuihnow made periodic attempts to distinguish between the two (e.g., pp. 43 and 171). It should also be understood that the terms evangelical and fundamentalist are ambiguous and not so easily defined. It will be interesting to see what Wuthnow may produce in the future, but this work is bound to be one of his best.

Forum I

The Utopian Theology of Gabriel Vahanian

Gabriel Vahanian’s "Utopian Connection"

Speaking of God, the Human and Technology

by Darrell J. Fasching

All too typically contemporary theological reflection on technology seems awkward and inept, as if we are stumbling around looking for a handle on this phenomenon - which, of course, is precisely our situation. For the most part, theology is treated as one world of discourse and technology another. In Gabriel Albanian’s view, a theology which does not speak the discourse of its culture cannot speak to that culture. As a theological ethicist or theologian of culture he understands his task to be that of appropriating and transforming the linguistic universe of our technical civilization. The power of his work lies in his ability to locate the linguistic connection between the biblical tradition and our technological civilization.

”No epithet better qualifies this post-Christian age," Vahanian argued in his 1961 book, The Death of God, "than, ‘technological’" (N.Y.: Braziller, 1961, 176-177). Long before Time magazine turned "the Death of God" into a media event, Albanian bad used that phrase to suggest that technological civilization was radically altering the experiential-linguistic texture of human existence, creating a "post-Christian civilization" typified by "a cultural incapacity for God." In a technological age the Medieval language of "supematuralism" no longer speaks the reality of God. The problem, he argued, is not so much secularization as it is a religiosity disengaged from the world. Christian faith has been reduced to a religiosity living in a separate world, focused on changing worlds rather than changing the world. That technological world which Albanian first analyzed almost three decades ago was (and still is) a world desperately in need of "the spirit of utopian and radical Christian adventurousness,.... a radical rupture with the past and a bold new beginning (1961,188)."

That is not a bad description of the theological enterprise which Albanian has been engaged in since then - "a radical rupture with the past and a bold new beginning.” A world which has no other language of faith than that of another world (in this case the language of Medieval supematuralism) is a world which has no capacity to speak of the living God and so ends up endlessly Waiting for Godot. A world which has no contemporaneous language to speak of God has no God to speak of. For the living God is not only the God of creation, the God who speaks us, but equally the God of incarnation, the God whom we speak (Dieu anonyme, Paris: Descite de Brouwer, 1989). If the God of creation is not first of all the God of incarnation, if the word does not become flesh through the linguistic structures and sensibilities of our contemporary existence, then "God is dead."

The "Death of God" as a cultural event suggested that with ’ the emergence of a technological civilization human existence bad undergone a fundamental mutation. The sacred bad migrated, as Albanian put it in God and Utopia (N.Y.: Seabury, 1977), from nature to technology. The theological task is to be as faithful to the linguisticality of our world as the Medievals were to theirs. Understanding themselves to part of the sacred order of nature, transcendence was expressed .in terms of the supernatural. Today we understand ourselves in terms of technology and transcendence will have to be expressed in terms of its utopianism. We no longer think of ourselves as living within a fixed order of nature and subject to an unchangeable human nature. We now seek not only to remake our world but also our selves. "Existentialism," Vahanian argued already in The Death of God, "is related to Christianity in the same way as technology is. Neither is thinkable without the Christian culture which originated them (1961,211)." The technological self is no robot, says Albanian, but the self which makes itself (God and Utopia, 1977, 136). And this same existential self-understanding pervades our managerial attitude toward our social structures. A technological civilization has an inherent utopian propensity, an inherent openness to transformation which can only be explained by understanding it as a child of biblical eschatology.

If ours is a Post-Christian age it is so because unlike the Middle Ages which were still shaped by pre-Christian Classical world views, the technological structures of our world are a direct product of Ute impact of biblical faith upon Western culture. The irony is that, because of this, the Gospel is more directly attuned to a technological civilization than it ever was to the Medieval mythological and metaphysical world view of "Christendom" - so much so that to speak of God in terms of "nature" and "super-nature" in our world seems foreign and unintelligible.

Every myth of ages past, Albanian argues, was a "technique of the human" which, while promoting human identity as "human nature,” ended up settling humans, not in nature but in culture (1977, 86). Culture is the uniquely human realm, the artificial realm or "second nature" we create through our capacity for speech. As such, culture is inherently technological. Entranced by myth, we once thought of ourselves as part of the order of nature. But when technological consciousness demythologized these myths we became aware that we dwell not in nature but in language - the realm of culture. We have come to realize that our understandings of nature are themselves cultural products. To be a linguistic creature rather than a creature of "nature" is to be an eschatological-utopian creature. For language provides no permanent place to dwell but rather demands that we become what we are not. Both personal identity and the structure of society is rendered radically open. Modem technological civilization is uniquely and selfconsciously a child of the word.

For Albanian, "God," our "humanness" and "technology" are related, not extrinsically but intrinsically. They converge in our utopian capacity for culture, that is, our capacity for speech. Theology in a technological civilization cannot be "natural theology" but only a "theology of culture" - a theology of the word. Natural law and natural theology were always an ill-fitting graft onto a biblical faith which insisted that we are created in the image of a God without image, a God Wholly Other than nature and known only through speech. Human identity, understood "in the image" of such a God, revealed not some ill fated human nature doomed to death but a utopian destiny of new creation. If there is a lesson to be learned from the eschatological utopianism of biblical faith, it is that a rose by any other name is not really a rose. The difference between "nature" and "creation," or "history” and "incarnation," is the difference between fate and utopian destiny - between being trapped in "this body of death" or being "alive in Christ." Everything depends on the word - the Christie event where tbe otherness of God and our humanity converge as utopian event of the human. For it is "neither God nor man but Christ who is the measure of all things" (1989,61). This convergence can only occur in the body, (physical and social/ecclesial) wbere the word is made flesh through the techniques of the human. Wherever the word is so embodied, the world is transformed to disclose the pleromatic fullness of its utopian destiny as tbe reign of God draws near and all things are made new.

Christ, says Vahanian is not "some leftover Jesus" to be retrieved from the past and faith is no nostalgia for Jesus but rather "hope in Christ" (1977, 73 -75). Faith has to do with the coming of the human and Jesus confirms that there is no way to God except through the humanity of every person who comes to us as a stranger, as "God anonymous" (1989,174-177), even as the church has less to do with tbe creation of some exclusionary community than with "communion" with the stranger through whom God’s otherness invites us to share in the pleromatic fullness of a new creation. "I have no other God," says S^hanian, "than the God of others" (1989,96).

God, says Vahanian, is not "tbe condition of (i.e., does not explain) our humanity any more than our humanity is "the condition of" technology. On the contrary, our humanity "is the condition of God." Apart from tbe human there is no God to speak of and apart from technology there is no human to speak of. Apart from technology, the human as utopianism of the body cannot come into being. We are not first human and then express our humanity through technology any more than we are first human and then express our humanity through speech. On tbe contrary, "In the beginning was the Word." First we are given the gift of speech and through speech the possibility of our humanity is given to us (1989,143). As the embodiment of our capacity for speech technology makes it possible for us to become what we are not The human is not a fact to be accounted for but a possibility ever and again to be realized (i.e., "made flesh"). As children of the word created in the image of the God without image we are not what we are and are what we are not (1977,137).

The utopian connection, then, between God, our humanity and technology is the word, our capacity for speech. But we must not think that Wianian is collapsing the divine into the human and its technological realization. Nor should one think that he is proposing tbe collapse of tbe kingdom of God into Utopia. On the contrary, he insists: "Utopia is not the kingdom. Utopia is to the kingdom as nature is to creation, or as history is to redemption, or simply as the flesh is to the spirit. If there is a relationship between them it is one of radical otherness" (1977,137). It is the task of the chu rch, as an other world within (not "another" world beyond) this world, to bring about a cultural revolution through a prior eccles-sial revolution.

Without the reign of God embodied in the social structures of our technological civilization, its utopianism will give way to the technical imperative (i.e., "if it’s possible it’s necessary" or "what can be done must be done”) as our fate, putting an end to the utopianism of the human. Apart from the reign of God, the possible becomes reduced to the actual even as creation is reduce to nature and eschatology to history. The reign of God makes the impossible possible. "Created in the image of God, [tbe hu]man begins where all techniques of the human leave off, wbere they can only go "too far,"... where for want of the kingdom utopia ends" (1977, 141). Only a church which has re-formed itself as utopian embodiment of the word for a technological civilization, embracing "the words and concepts proper to homo tech-nicus"(1989,167), can serve as tbe leaven of a cultural revolution which would enable the world to realize its utopian possibilities - making all things new and all things possible.

God and Utopia: The Church in a Technological Civilization

by Gabriel Vahanian (N.Y.: Seabury, 1982)

An Essay Review by Lonnie D. Kliever

Southern Methodist University

This essay first appeared in the summer issue of Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses, 11/3 (1982), pp.321-324, and is reprinted here with the permission of the Canadian Corporation for Studies in Religion. (Note: In transcribing this paper bold face emphasis has been added to certain passages.)

Perhaps no contemporary theologian is more frequently misunderstood than Gabriel Vahanian. Often wrongly associated with other movements (Left-wing Barthianism, Death-of-God theology), he has gone his own way in fashioning a theological vision at once distinctively biblical and uncompromisingly modern. The constructive lineaments of that theology have been partially obscured by the iconoclastic tone and message of Vahanian’s writings in the 1960s - The Death of God (New York: Braziller, 1961),Wait Without Idols (New York: Braziller, 1964), and No Other God (New York: Braziller, 1966). With the publication of God and Utopia: The Church in a Technological Civilization (New York: Seajgjury Press, 1977), the full shape and significance of Vahaniaf^ljfheology has emerged. In this genuinely original and radical statement, he establishes the essential identity between a ‘utopiari i^manism’ and an ‘eschatological faith’ and sketches out the linguae and ecclesiological form that faith must take in the ‘technolSgRal civilization’ that is dawning in our time.

Vahanian sees all human existence as essentially utopian. This ’utopianism of the human reality’ functions both as a limit and as a horizon. As horizon, "the human" confronts human beings as a dare without prototype. As limit, "the human" contests every expression of life as less than a final achievement. Both dimensions of the utopian are caught etymologically in the Greek word for utopia -ouk topos. Human life happens where strictly speaking "it has no place." This utopian "otherness" or "beyondness" is, of course, what religions speak of symbolically as "God." As we shall see, there^jje very different ways of conceiving the relation, between "GSo* and humans. But whatever the conceptuality, God is God and ffimans are human only so long as they remain other to one another?

There can be no doubt that for Vahanian biblical fait]) is paradigmatic for this joining of the utopian and of the religious. Indeed, the utopian character of authentic humanism and the "eschatic" nature of biblical faith are structurally identical. But this formal identity must not be misunderstood. Vahanian does not generalize utopian humanism and eschatic faith to some universal experience enjoyed equally by all. Both the human and the divine come to appearance only in language and that language is always culturally and religiously particular. The utopian reality of the human and of God is always expressed in a culture’s own religiosity and every religiosity is articulated in a specific cultural framework. This means that a given religious and cultural symbol system may either express or repress true humanity and true divinity. Any given symbol system can spell death or life to humans and to God!

Vahanian calls each such symbol system a "technique of the human," and notes that each technique is borne by a distinctive "vector of culture." The heart of this theological program centres in sorting out the ways these techniques differ and why their vectors change with the passage of time. He begins by marking a crucial distinction between "soteriological" and "eschatological" techniques of the human. Soteriological techniques (religions of salvation) envision God as the condition of the human. In soteric religiosity, God’s transcendence is exterior to humans and the world. Human existence is defined by "scarcity" and "heteronomy" and the utopian destiny of the human is projected into another world which can only be anticipated through "spiritual" evasion of this world. By contrast, eschatological techniques (religions of the reign of God) see humans as the condition of God. Eschatic religiosity sees God’s transcendence as anterior to human beings and the world. Human existence is marked by "abundance" and "autonomy" and the utopian destiny of the human is realized in this world becoming other through "bodily" engagement with it.

Vahanian further divides soteriological techniques according to whether humanization is seen as a liberation from nature or from history. A soteric religiosity vectored on nature centres in a "supernatural" conception of transcendence. Only a return to a supernatural world above can make up for the mysteries and miseries of life in the natural world. By contrast, asoteric religiosity vectored on history turns on an "apocalyptic" conception of transcendence. Only the arrival of the apocalyptic world ahead can resolve the vicissitudes and injustices of historical existence. In other words, these soteriological techniques of the human rest on "mythic" conceptions of transcendence. They distinguish humans and God, world and kingdom, by separating them spatially and temporally. Consequently, these mythic carriers are never adequate for expressing true humanism or biblical faith. Soteriological religiosity always consigns the utopian reality of humans and God to some paradisal past or apocalyptic future. Their utopianism has consisted largely "in changing worlds rather than in changing the world."

Given these distinctions, Vahanian argues that Christianity has been a "salvation religion" throughout most of its history. To be sure, there was no way historically that Christianity could have avoided taking the cultural form of a soteric faith because the only cultural vectors available in the Greco-Roman world were mythic. Moreover, these supernatural and historical theisms at least mediated the utopian reality of God and humans in aaambiguous way. Belief in another-world above of ahead at least stood guard iconoclastically against all temptations to deify nature or society. The existence of the church at least prevented total disengagement from every concern for the world. But even these "misshapen utopianisms" have lost their power to bring the human and God to appearance in the modern world. An axial shift in modern sensibilities has "dishabilitated" the entire Christian tradition by undermining its mythic framework. The God of salvation religion who fulfills life from above nature or beyond history is no more! All mythic "cultural vehicles" of transcendence have been dissolved by the triumph of technological civilization. Modem technology has delivered humans from the mythic world of scarcity and heteronomy into the technological world of abundance and autonomy. Modern technology has made humans producers of nature and history rather then their products.

Seen in this light, technology is not the threat to humanism and faith so widely feared today. Technology liberates humans from an impersonal nature and history and empowers them to humanize both. What then is technology if not the the continuation of utopian humanism and eschatological faith? If the proper place of the human is neither "residue of nature" nor "afterglow of history," then technology furthers the realization of "the coming of [the hu]man" by extricating humans from nature’s necessities and history’s terrors. In other words, technology both negates and fulfills the Christian tradition. In negating Christianity’s mythological conception of religion (whether in its supernatural or apocalyptic version), technology at last offers a cultural vector that can embody a genuinely eschatological faith.

Vahanian is under no illusions that technology’s promise will be realized automatically. Technology will foster the utopianism proper to the human only if it gets "the religion it deserves." That new religiosity requires a new language and a new ecclesiology. Here Vahanian is still feeling his way and his thought at this point reaches an unparalleled density and difficulty. But the essential shape of this requisite linguistic and ecclesial revolution is clear enough to be grasped.

Linguistically, an eschatological faith can speak of God and the kingdom of God only by speaking of humans and their world. The human is the "event of God," though God is the ever-present other by which humans become what they are not. The world is the "event of God’s kingdom," though the kingdom is the never-present eschaton that calls forth the world as novum. But language about humans and the world in a technological civilization must be bodily and fictile. The shift from mythology to technology is a shift from a "civilization of the soul" to a "civilization of the body." Technological civilization gives humans an earthly dimension heretofore neglected in favor of the soul and its heavenly aspirations. Body language brings the utopian reality of the human and God into the realizable present and thereby makes the human body and the social structure the instrument of the kingdom and the incarnation of God! But body language that does not sink into factualism or soar into fantasy must be fictile --it must shape the present by joining the real and the imaginary. Indeed, every human body and social structure is a "bridge" between the imaginary and the real precisely because language is the "artificer" of the human. "Language nudges the body into the word as well as anchoring the word in the body, even as the imaginary is anchored in the real. Indeed there is no utopia except in terms of the realizable, and the imaginary is nothing other than a utopianism of the real. Eschatological artifice does not overwhelm the imaginary with the real, nor does it sublimate the real in the imaginary. It emancipates humans from both, "thereby bringing hope within reach."

Ecclesiologically, an eschatological faith is neither identical with nor separate from the customs and structures of society. The church is rather "the eschatological principle of political and social organization of the human order." The utopian church in a technological civilization must meet the challenge of the "technocratic" systematization and privatization of life. The often-voiced fear that technology inevitably brings dehumanization and faithlessness grows out of technology’s breakup of traditional customs, roles, and communities. Bureaucratic rationalization and multinational corporations are making traditional geographic and sociological boundaries obsolescent. Seen in its best light, this technological leveling could signal the latter-day beginnings of a "city of earth" where there is neither East nor West, black nor white, male nor female. But what of the individual who seems lost in this "gigantism" and "interchangeability"? Will the individual and the interpersonal simply disappear in the extraordinary artificiality of the technological environment and persona? While admitting the dangers of such a loss, Vahanian contends that artificiality need not oppose the human. After all, linguistic artifice creates the utopian "nowhere" where human life happens. "Far from being a robot, artificial man is the man who makes himself." "Artificial man" can be authentic if he or she makes himself or herself in the image of an imageless God."

The church cannot contribute to this artistic process of humanization by establishing havens of seclusion or ghettos of particularity. The church must go beyond all confessional or geographical boundaries. Neither liturgy nor polity should separate the church from the human community. Yet the church will lose its iconoclastic function and its eschatological anchorage if it is nothing but that community. The utopian church is an other world in the present world precisely because it is "pleromatic" - bringing all things everywhere into fullness by naming the One God who is everywhere because nowhere, and who is for every one because for no one. The utopian church is anywhere and everywhere anyone makes a new world.

Here then in bold strokes is the sum of two thousand years of Christian thought and life. Vfebanian presents a remarkable sketch of humans and their world in transition from a mythic to a technological civilization. That unanswered questions and critical problems abound in a work this encompassing and radical goes without saying. More traditional thinkers will ask: Is the reality of God so language-dependent? Does an eschatological faith offer real consolations? Is the utopian church anything more than an ideal construct? More radical thinkers will ask: Why does biblical faith deserve normative status? Does utopian humanism require symbols of radical transcendence? Does technological rationality allow anything other than private religiosity? But questions such as these do not blunt the sharpness of Albanian’s challenge to both sides of the contemporary debate over human nature and destiny - to a reductionistic atheism that simply re-assigns the attributes of God to humans or to a repristinated theism that simply remodels human dependence on God. Neither atheism nor theism meets the challenge of making and keeping human life human in a technological civilization.

Dieu anonyme, ou la peur des mots [God Anonymous, or Fear of Words]

by Gabriel Vahanian (Paris, Descl€e de Brouwer, 1989)

An Essay Review by Philippe Aubert Pastor, Reformed Church of Alsace

Translated by Charles L. Creegan

God Speaks Our Language

Many theologies have endless prolegomena. One may enquire into the relation between faith and reason, between ontology and theology; lay the foundations of an existentialist, materialist or other reading of the Biblical tradition; reflect on the being of God and the being of humans. It is very true that all God-talk is grist for the Biblical mill. God may be defined as Alpha and Omega, the all-powerful, the judge or the gracious one. These conceptions of God are all present in the Biblical tradition, but the originality of the Biblical message over against other religions is not to be found in any of them.[16]

God is a God who speaks, the inverse of silent idols: "And like all speech, which binds even while liberating, God, bound to humanity, is only so bound by the word."

Even before Gabriel Albanian, Christianity has certainty not lacked theologians who have placed this Biblical affirmation at the center of their theological thought fhr rarer are those who have accepted all the consequences. Barth himself fell by the wayside — a victim, like many others, of a hermeneutics of history. Tt> say that God is speech, that God is connected to humanity only by language and not by virtue of an analogy of being, or some sort of historical conscience, is to radicalize to the point at which God escapes from the idol which we make as soon as we assign to God a name, a place, a history, be it ever so holy.

Here we can see a filiation with the thought of Bultmann, who, in his enterprise of demythologizing, had no other intention than to bring God back to the zero point, a point of no return at which onty the new and the impossible are possible. That is what the Bible does when it forges the idea of redemption over against that of history, of creation over against that of nature.

Radicalized, God is no more tied to nature than to history. Holding to a hermeneutics of speech from Genesis to Revelation, from creation td resurrection, Albanian elaborates in his book a veritable Systematic Theology. Diving back into the sources of Biblical tradition, his thought does not switch Gods at the whim of the diversity of Biblical texts, of our existential angst, or of passing trends.

Offered as prolegomena are the central affirmations of the BiUe: God is speech, and its fulfillment: the Word made flesh. In this verbal condition, God and humanity are linked by language. If the break with ontotheology is not surprising, the anthropology found in Albanian’s thought is worthy of greater attention. In a world where often God has resolved the human question, but also-inevitabty-humans have resolved the Divine question, Albanian reminds us that far from exposing of confusing these questions, the Bible radicalizes them to the point of defining them in terms of alterity: an alterity which onty language can establish.

Speech does not separate. It does not separate what God has joined together. It does not separate what is one-as a hand is one with another in dapping, or I with thou, God with humanity in metaphor. It is not metaphor which is a manner of speaking a language. It is language which is a metaphor. It is the power of metaphor which bodies out the space of a speech as it makes of speech God’s space: a space where humanity is the condition of God, where the reality of God is given with the reality of the world, but nevertheless without their becoming confused.[17]

Humans are grounded in God; like Adam, called Son of God, they have no other antecedents than speech. Thus they could not be defined as changelings of nature or as beings gifted with a historical conscience. Without precedents, each one is altogether as hu man as anyone, in the formula which Albanian borrows from Jean-Paul Sartre. "Where even God is no more than a word. A word thanks to which humanity is no longer grounded and never will be solely grounded in nature-though we must first be human, and, like Adam, hitman first rather than the first human."[18]

Now it is dear that language cannot be reduced to a simple code of signs and symbols.

We are far from the conception of Paul Tillich, for whom religious language can onty be symbolic: "[The symbol opens] up levels of reality which otherwise are hidden and cannot be grasped in any other way."[19] Tillich translates, he does not radicalize, so that for him the word "God" cannot be replaced since it partidpates in the Holy which it expresses. Translation onty displaces or circumvents the Holy, it makes language an instrument or even a mask. For Albanian, in speaking, God unmasks, un-names, de-sacralizes, putting himself [berselfpn question thanks to language which by nature is iconoclastic and utopian.

God can onty be spoken!

Speech and Utopia: God

Refusing to enclose God in a name, the Bible also constrains itself from enclosing God in a place: Biblical iconoclasm moves from the anonymity to the utopianism of God. For the myth of the Eternal Return or of the Earth-mother is substituted the hope in the Promised Land; to natural order which engenders an ethic of necessity is now propounded the Law, gracious order for which the onty possible ethic is that of the impossible.

Master of the Universe, God creates. Thus is wiped out any idea of a generative Nature which takes care only of those it favors. So in the Old Testament, the appeal to nature as a norm and criterion of life yields to the Law. The Earth-mother yields to the Promised Land. And the Eternal Return yields to the Sabbath, while humans, whatever they may be in the natural order; are all equidistant from God.

Albanian restores this utopianism, which succumbs to a sacral conception of God and of the world, by a formula which acts as leitmotif from beginning to end of the book: "ftith consists not in changing worlds, but in changing the world.”[20]

Salvation and Utopia: The Christ

Whether in a sacral or utopian conception of the world, every religion must address the question of salvation. For from Israel to the Church, salvation is the central problem of the Bible.

The answer to this question must lie in the Christie conception of God, but also-as Albanian is at pains to show-in the Christie conception of humans. Classical Christology generally develops in three parts. First is an ontological reflection on the person of Christ, which most often aims to emphasize the ontological specificity of Christ as against humans, or again to deny any differences; in this second case, the difference between Christ and us would come out existentially. The second part attempts to discover the historical foundations of the life of Jesus, while the third is given over to the soteriology which follows from the confession of Jesus Christ as savior.

For Vahanian, Jesus is no more the answer to the God question than He is to the human question. He absorbs neither, but rather sets them face to face in their alterity and their communion, thus becoming the covenant between God and humanity. The measure of God and of the person who is the Christ does not begin with the birth of Jesus, but with the faith of the believer. That is to say, faith guarantees its own foundation and the result of historical studies is of minor importance. Does not St. Paul himself settle the question by reminding us that we only know the Christ of the writings?* The life of Christ begins with faith and the sense of God shown when, in Christ, God is not stuck in divinity nor the human in humanity, but God is of one body with humans, and in Christ ’humanity is the condition of God."

Son of God, Christ does not represent the quintessence of God, but God’s providence, in other words God’s currency. Son of Man and thus native of the human, he does not symbolize the culmination of nature through the human phenomenon which would also be its conscience, but the novelty of humanity.[21]

More than ever it is a question of salvation. The word is made flesh to be embodied, to become Church as body of Christ-but on condition of becoming a social body in all of its dimensions, ethical, political, economic and cultural. Far from any mysticism, the thought of Vahanian ever returns to ethics: an ethics which permits us to change the world, as opposed to a mysticism which only changes worlds.

Utopianism of the Body and Social Order The Spirit

Far from setting in opposition heaven and earth, God and humanity, or the flesh and the spirit, the Bible invites us to engage nature and its determinism, history and its absolutisms, and the social order.

The pneumatology of Vahanian does not rest on a subtle analysis of the different names which refer to the Spirit. The best way of understanding the third person of the Trinity is still the amazing story of Pentecost.

While Western theology has, for a variety of reasons, dangerously reduced the place of the Spirit, our author gives it a new spin which is not unsurprising. Rather than any mystical manifestation like glossolalia, the outpouring of the Spirit is nothing other than a new social order, an ecclesial vision of the world.

And how is this order to be recognized? From the fact that it falls into place once our behavior-on the social as well as the religious, cultural and ethical levels-demonstrate the conviction that is ours when our living is living the Christ.[22]

To live the Christ and not simply in Christ. The nuance in the Pauline expression must not be pushed too far; Vahanian wishes to insist on the fact that the Spirit does not interiorize the Christ, but exteriorizes him, communicates him in every person’s language. Every person, be they Parthian, Elamite, Mesopotamian, Jew or Greek, male or female, rich or poor.

Not satisfied to revise the social order which classifies people according to their merits, or privileges of land or blood, the Spirit moves between the individual and the communal - [shaping] a community in which communion must not eclipse communication. St.Paul was already worried at the attitude of those Christians for whom the edification of the neighbor was secondary to the mystical communion of speaking in tongues. It falls to Vahanian to take up the cause and to take on the interpretation of the famous passages which Paul devotes to this problem in the first letter to the Corinthians.

And would not God then be reduced to a mere effect of language-—like that other Divine abyss, Being, or what fills it, the Holy? Speech postulates language. But when through misdirection it is called to postulate both more and less than language, it leaves the sphere of language. Then it serves to strengthen a vision of the world more mystical than ethical: dualistic, and providing a springboard for the initiates, the candidates for otherness. But if God is a God who speaks to us, God is willingly placed in question, less through nature and its catastrophism or history and its tragedy, than through language. It is in language that one recognizes the traces of God, as those of the wind in the grass, breath in the word, and the Spirit in the newness of the world and of life.[23]

In this book, Gabriel X&hanian shows that it is possible to escape the eternal problem of theism and atheism by returning to the roots of Biblical tradition.

Taking up the theses already expressed in God and Utopia, the author proceeds to a true theological reconstruction which, far from refuting tradition, restores it by reorienting it in a direction it should never have left. A theology in gear with modernity which returns to the Christian an awareness of faith, a capacity to grasp the reality of the world, not fleeing it, but rather changing it. On one condition: that the Church must show its mettle, it must not be afraid of words; for more than our past or our future it is speech which remains a challenge to humans and a hope of humanity.

♦ Editor’s note: Mr. Aubert makes a puzzling allusion here. I suspect he means to say, as Vahanian does say, that Paul reminds us that even if we once knew Christ in the flesh that is not how we now know him, for we now’ know him only in the Spirit. (2 Cor. 5:16).

Ellul Forum Meeting at the AAR Convention

A Critical Appraisal of Ellul's Sexual Ethics by Tom Hanks author of God So Loved the Third World

Friday, November 17th, 1990
at the New Orleans Marriott
The Lafayette Room

Theology of Culture: Tillich's Quest for a New Religious Paradigm

by Gabriel Vahanian

University des Sciences Humaines, Strasbourg

for Jean-Pierre Richter

Whatever reasons are adduced by Paul Tillich when he claims that, under the circumstances of today’s human cultural predicament, traditional theological ethics should give way to a theology of culture, one thing clearly stands out: the task at hand can be neither defined nor discharged properly unless it rests, firmly, on a religious analysis of culture. Immediately, however, another thing makes itself felt and grows and looms even larger than the former it refers to what I shall call Tillich’s quest for a new religious paradigm.

In Theology of Culture Tillich writes that if "religion is being ultimately concerned about that which is and should be our ultimate concern, [then] faith is the state of being grasped by an ultimate concern, and God is the name for the content of this concern."[24] But no sooner has he made this statement than he draws our attention to the fact that with it he points to "an existential, not a theoretical, understanding of religion."[25] But is that all there is to it? Nor would the question arise if, in the same paragraph, he did not invite it by admitting that "such a conception of religion has little in common with the description of religion as the belief in the existence of a highest being called God. and the theoretical and practical consequences of such a belief."[26] Having thus raised at least a question about the assumption that religion must be intrinsically tied up with a substantialist ontology, he ads, similarly, that another and for us equally significant consequence of "the existential conception of religion is the disappearance of the gap between the sacred and secular realm."[27] And yet, just as he retracts himself with respect to God as Being-itself, so also he will not really go so far as to drive a wedge between religion and the sacred much less discard that other, equally rampant, assumption according to which religion must intrinsically be tied up with the sacred.


Casual as they may be, these statements bring nonetheless into focus what, to my mind, is really at stake in Tillich’s shift from theological ethics to theology of culture.

To begin with, take the last words of the last quotation. Considering that normally what goes together with the sacred is the profane while religious is what goes together with secular, one is bound to wonder whether the disappearance of the gap is, for Tillich, the result of a process of desacralization or the result of a process of secularization. For reasons that will become clear as we go on, Tillich does not mean the former. But he really does not mean the latter either, since secularization - of which he is critical, anyway - at worst would amount to a displacement of the sacred, not its loss. And if so, there could be no disappearance of any kind of gap, either. Or else, it must result from a process of desacralization - a process which, precisely, consists, not in obliterating religion, but in providing it with another ground than the sacred. Indeed, unless the gap to which Tillich consistently refers has disappeared, what would be the point of shifting from theological ethics to theology of culture? Given the ambiguities of Tillich’s thought or his existential ambivalence about the secular (or, for that matter, the sacred), the shift, once it is property analyzed, should bring into evidence another yet equally exciting aspect of his thought, with consequences affecting not only ethics and society but also the language of faith and theology properly speaking. Meanwhile, the real nature of the shift and its shortcomings in Tillich’s own handling of it are brought to light by raising a simple question. It can be phrased as follows: Obviously honing in on or beckoned by a new religious paradigm, what is it that prevents Tillich from ultimately giving up ontotheology, and the idea of God as Being-itself, for the sake of a theology rooted in the Word - instead of merely using words? That is, to a theology attuned to the verbal condition of the human. What is it that keeps his thought firmly oriented to the sacred instead of prodding it into a theology of utopia?


To be sure, what Tillich was concerned with, on his own admission, was a religious analysis of culture. But, given the previous remarks, it could well be that this first step was also the wrong one. Considering the vast upheavals generated by the successive scientific and technological revolution and their urgent implications for human self-understanding; considering in other (or, should I say, in his own) words, the cultural shaking of our religious foundations, should he not have instead been concerned with a cultural analysis of religion? Indeed, if language is "the basic cultural creation" and, Tillich goes on, of moreover, "every religious act, not only in organized religion, but also in the most intimate movement of the soul [i.e., not only in theoretical but also in existential religion] is culturally formed," in these times of spiritual crisis and shifting religious styles - driving, for example, Protestants and Catholics into having nowadays more in common than they do with their respective sixteenth century ancestors - would a cultural analysis of religion not have provided him with a better and more pertinent theological stance? Much as Tillich protests against ascribing religion to a "special realm" alongside a secular one, does he not himself consolidate such a cleavage even when he defines religion as "the substance of culture" and culture as "the form of religion"?[28] Inevitably, a definition of this type is bound to foster one kind of dualism or another, if it does not simply perpetuate a rather traditional, dichotomous understanding of reality.

Tillich’s protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, this impression is not quite alleviated by statements to the effect that "the religious and the secular are not separated realms:" they are "within each other."[29] Such statements, however, are immediately counterbalanced if not neutralized by the rather telling admission that "this is not the way things actually are."[30] Actually, each realm tries or tends to dominate the other, even as, Tillich claims, on another, existential level, each of us drifts into estrangement or is responsive to both acceptance by God and self-acceptance.

Am I then still suggesting that for all practical purposes Tillich’s understanding of the relation between religion and culture is grounded in the sacred? I am, in spite of the fact that he defines the sacred as a passion for the secular. Am I equally suggesting that his understanding of the religious phenomenon and of Christianity in particular is one that is not so much grounded in "salvation" as one that reduces the Christian faith to a religion of salvation? I am once again, and again in spite of the fact that even for Tillich "salvation," "saving," and "savior" are words that need to "be saved themselves."[31] They are words whose efficacy has consistently lost to the "saving power of the technical control of nature," while at the same time the cure of souls is itself being practiced with a far "greater consciousness of the real meaning of grace" by depth psychology.

In a word, Tillich’s reluctance to get rid of being in talking about God is in turn explained by his reluctance to get rid of the sacred. Interestingly, this twofold reluctance is accompanied by an even more significant acknowledgement, namely: both religion and culture are funded by language. True enough, what Tillich means by language is nothing more than a symbolic order and its tradition. And, although as an order this order is less and less conspicuous today for its adhering to the so-called vertical dimension rather than to the horizontal one, still it is thoroughly tangled with the sacred of which it remains captive instead of being pegged on utopia. Mistaking optimistic progressivism for "hope against hope," the utopian hope of which at times American civilization was only able to reflect distorted image, Tillich points out that religion "had nearly forgottet^the religious reservation, the vertical line, and had dedicated its-fagee to the religious obligation, the horizontal line alone. It had consecrated progressivistic utopianism instead of judging and transcending it."[32] What he does not realize, however, is that religiotrVas been undergoing a basic shift: in fact, if not yet theoretically it is no longer tied up with the sacred. And Tillich has no conception of such a radical mutation of the religious experience. Inadvertently or not, he then writes: "The original terminology of scriptures and of the liturgies of the Ancient Church cannot be replaced. Mankind has archetypal words."[33]

As is well known, Paul Tillich was by and large rather critical of utopia. He sees it as the ultimate sanction of secularism if not its final degeneration. No wonder he did not approve of Gogarten’s overall vision afjS£kularisiening. Yet he should not be rebuked for that. And he wS®d not be altogether wrong if his own alternate concept of apologetics had been free of all suspicion. Indeed, utopia and the sacred do not quite mix. As Gilles Lapouge puts it, utopia is not pr^Stibus to the sacred.[34]

And no Ibtfger can the question be eluded, either. Something prevents Tillich from identifying the religious dimension with the spirit of utopia. Why? In spite of the entire thrust of his thought, what is it that, for example, drives him to contend that "no church is possible without a sacramental representation of the Sacred"?[35] Or does Tillich manage to overlook the fact that this kind of claim is scarcely possible without the prior confusion of the sacred and the holy, of sacralization and hallowing? Surely, there must be another explanation.

At this point, it seems obvious to me that Tillich was groping for a new religious paradigm. The general trend of his thought is studied with irrefragable indications of such a quest. To wit, the incessant struggle against secularism as well as clericalism or ec-clesiasticism he wages in the name of that most apt and most beautiful of all, the Protestant Principle --of which, apparently, even his own definition of religion and culture, if not his theology of culture, is to be deemed but a distorting echo. Quite correct when, by ecclesiasticism, he means otherworldliness, something seems to go wrong when, by secularism, he means not only socialism but also the latter’s utopianism or, more precisely, its immanentist utopianism. Not to mention the fact that it remains to be seen whether, of necessity, utopianism must be immanentist,

Tillich, easily presuming that secularization must lead to secularism and construing the secular in antinomy with the sacred, opts for and finds refuge in the bosom of the sacred even while claiming to be concerned with the unconditioned, the ultimate, albeit forgotten, the religious dimension.


Still, it is no wonder that in spite of it all he has, in "Critique and Justification of Utopia," written pages hardly surpassable on the subject. From the start, he states, that "utopia is truth," and asking "Why is it truth?" answers: "because it expresses man’s essence, the inner aim of his existence." "Utopia," Tillich insists, "shows what man is essentially and what he should have as telos of his existence.[36] Accordingly, Tillich points out," a socially defined utopia loses its truth if it does not at the same time fulfill the person, just as the individually defined utopia loses its truth if it does not at the same time bring fulfillment to society."[37]

However, the significant thing lies elsewhere. It lies in the fact that this truth of utopia seems itself inevitably bound to be checkmated by no less a utopian untruth: "Utopian is a judgment of the extreme sinfulness of the present or of a social group or people or religion and an attempt to lead out of this situation, but it does not say how this is possible if there is radical estrangement."[38]

We need not be surprised at Tillich’s negative assessment of utopia being as strong as his positive assessment. He uses the same stratagem with respect to the church or religion in general, or with respect to culture. He remains consistent with the sacral presuppositions of his theological stance, globally considered, if not outright with the Protestant principle. Of the problem thus raised by utopia he sees no resolution except in terms of the idea of the two orders,[39] of the vertical and the horizontal or, do I dare add, of the sacred and the profane. Clearly, for Tillich onfy the Lutheran idea of the two orders - which I prefer to see as somewhat alien to my own unabashedly Calvinistic understanding of the Protestant principle - can prevent utopia from "freezing" into some final solution (with all this phrase connotes to our post-Auschwitz ears). Tillich does not, I am afraid, seem to allow for the possibility much less for the fact that utopia, if it aims at anything, aims precisely at no final solution of any kind. For him, what would and does ultimately confer finality, even "utopian finality to any place or time in history," is and has always been the sacred. No sooner has he acknowledged the spirit of utopia than he rejects its relevance unless it can be retrieved in the name of the sacred. Unexamined or inadvertent, such a position is all the more unexpected since Tillich himself concludes his own essay with these words which he himself underlined: "It is the spirit of utopia that conquers utopia." And who else but Tillich could say anything like that?


If the religious task consists in changing the world rather than changing worlds, is there any conquest or, for that matter, any quest that is not fundamentally utopian? Only in this manner can the religious dimension be spared from becoming one dimension among others. Only in this manner can it perform as the leaven does in the dough, changing it into bread. By contrast with the sacred, the spirit of utopia implies in no way that the real world is somehow a place off limits; it is what is at stake in and through cultural revolutions that exhibit a religious vision and religious revolutions that likewise exhibit a cultural relevance. True enough, in Tillich’s time, the need for either kind of revolution had, at bottom, been ideologically oriented, exclusive of any other consideration. Progressivistic or apocalyptic, demonic or catastrophic, it did nevertheless reflect something - though not always the best — of the deeper revolution that had been and still is affecting us all both religiously and culturally, the technological revolution.

Of this technological revolution, surely, Paul Tillich grasps the hitherto unexpected, unfathomed meaning. The desert can be "tamed" into a garden, and the wilderness, both inward, psychological, and outward, physical, can be turned into paradise. Which, of course, does not mean that the converse cannot equally happen, and technology unleash demonic forces yet unsuspected by our natural, all too natural, inclination to evil. Not that this would mean the ultimate surrender of nature to technology and its alleged inherent madness, its congenital incapacity for coherence. It could, on the contrary, mean the surrender of technology to nature, albeit through human nature.

To conceive of technology as the ultimate negation of nature amounts to overlooking its real meaning, to begin with, technology has made us more conscious of nature than we have ever been so far. Technology is the spirit of nature conquering nature. And to it, an its implications, Tillich is, no doubt, most sensitive.

So sensitive, indeed, that he feels the need for a new religious paradigm - a utopian paradigm of religion in lieu of the sacral paradigm bequeathed by the Western tradition. A tradition, however, of whose language, precisely, Tillich does not simultaneously feel the need to be freed. And it is this language which holds Tillich’s thought firmly grounded in the sacral discourse of on-totheology and withholds it from the spirit of utopia. But it is a language that defeats itself: pervading everything from birth to death, geared to life after death, it shies away from life in spite of death, the life over which death itself can win no victory - no final victory.

Not without some irony, Paul Tillich’s ashes were scattered in the sky over and above the memorial garden designed in his honor at New Harmony, a town founded by Robert Owen and his utopian community, a landmark in the conquest of utopia by the spirit of utopia.

Book Reviewers Needed

If you are willing to be called upon as a reviewer for The Forum please contact Dan Clendenin, William Tyndale College, 35700 West Twelve Mile Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48331. Phone 313-553-7200.

Forum II

Law and Ethics in Ellul’s Theology

[Abstract of Introduction to Jacques Ellul’s Judicial Ethics, Master’s Thesis, Faculty of Protestant Theology University of Strasbourg]

By Sylvain Dujancourt

Translated by Charles L. Creegan

Jacques Ellul’s judicial thought is an aspect of his work which has received little attention. And yet it is perfectly characteristic of Ellul’s sociological and theological procedures. In this area as in others, Ellul initiates a dialectic of constant cross-questioning involving study of the problem in its social, political, and cultural aspects, and investigation of what the Bible says-or does not say-about the subject. For Ellul, law is a human phenomenon which is only fully significant in light of Biblical revelation.

A: to affirm that law is a human phenomenon is an implicit response to two questions: What is law? What is its origin?

1) In defining law, Ellul begins by rejecting the traditional alternative between idealist and positivist conceptions-which he accuses in the first case of an abstract vision of the nature of law and humanity, and in the second case of reducing law to a mere rule. Law is "a concrete system destined to be applied." Ellul next distinguishes law from several notions for which it is sometimes or often mistaken: morality, history, the State, custom, laws, language, and science. These distinctions allow Ellul to uncover five characteristics of law. Law is universal, a rule of social life indispensable to the functioning of all civilization. Law is an artificial creation of humanity, helping to ensure control of time, space, and human relations. Law is normative, both in that it expresses a desire to modify the total social fact and in that it is a set of procedures facilitating the realization of the values embodied in law. Law depends on applicability, it is made to be applied. Finally, Ellul claims that law has an aim, justice, which is also its critical benchmark.

Ellul the historian sets out a three-stage typology of the evolution of law. In religious law, law and religion are confused. In secular law there is an equilibrium between the basis, popular conscience, and the form, judicial technique. This is the moment of legal evolution which Ellul prefers. The last stage is that of the technologizing of law, in which judicial technique dominates. Here law is transformed into an organization at the service of the State. The law of our societies is in a crisis due at once to its nationalization, its proliferation, its incoherence, and its devaluation. It has also mutated: technique has transformed law into a mechanism for social control. A teleology of order has substituted itself for one of justice. In counterpoint, Ellul imagines an ideal law which would encompass three qualities: a close mesh with social reality, a subordinated judicial technique, and a capacity for evolution. This conception comes nearest to the second stage of the evolution of law.

2) Having thus analyzed law, Ellul tries to answer the question of its origin-that is, of its creation and foundation. For Ellul, the creation of law is the fruit of a combination of human effort and social facts. Law is firstly a spontaneous and collective work of humans for the organization of social life. Law is created by decisions made in light of certain values. Without accepting the Marxist analysis of law, Ellul allows that social, economic and political givens play an important role in the creation of law. Ellul considers events to be a particularly important source of transformations of law. The satisfaction of three criteria allows us to affirm that a rule has become one of law: the existence of common and accepted values; regularized procedures; and sanctions. Ellul raises judicial and theological objections to natural-law doctrines which purport to explain the foundation of law. "Natural law" is a human invention, founded on a variable idea of nature; it is a negation of the eschatology of the Kingdom and allows humans to escape radical revelation.

B: Continuing his research, Ellul relates his analysis of law as a human phenomenon to the Bible, and shows that revelation adds to the value and significance of law. He examines the place of law in the project of salvation as it is revealed to us by God, and proceeds to extract a Christian judicial ethics. Ellul’s theological analysis of law rests on two choices, theology of grace and Chris-tocentrism, which underline his solidarity with S. Kierkegaard, K. Barth and J. Bose.

1) In revelation, law is an element of the dialectic between truth and reality. In the Old Testament, Ellul distinguishes between the Torah, expression of Divine grace, and Hebraic legislation. Hebrew law is in many ways similar to those of other oriental civilizations of the same era. Ellul notes that, as an instrument of God, it is nevertheless unique. In the New Tostament, law takes on an essentially ethical dimension; it is an instrument directed to reducing conflicts and allowing the weak to compensate for their weakness.

In the Bible, there are three characteristic manifestations of law: institutions, such as marriage, State, or property, which are created by God with a soteriological dimension; human rights, those given by God in the interest of covenant, of which the first is to be able to speak to God in the name of Jesus Christ; justice, which is an act of God, judgement, and grace. The notion of justice establishes a link between law and revelation. This link allows Ellul to affirm that the foundation of law is in God. This is not a theocratic conception of law. Instead it signifies that law finds its true value in God, and that in Jesus Christ it gains its full significance. Law is a part of the lordship of Jesus Christ over the world, between the covenant and the parousia. It is also placed in the eschatological perspective of the final Kingdom, although it cannot contribute anything at all to its coming.

2) On the basis of this judicial and theological analysis, Ellul constructs a Christian judicial ethics, that is to say, a coherence between being and doing relative to law and faith. The ethics proposed by Ellul is founded on the notion of judgement, first of all with respect to existing law, and secondly with respect to the working out of law. On the one hand, the Christian is invited to take notice of the worth of law before God, while at the same time measuring the exact social value of law. Further, the law of love does not allow the Christian to ignore the law in force; it must come into play with respect to the existing law. The Church must also take care that the law of society does not hinder the free speaking of the Word of God, salvation of humankind.

On the other hand, as to the working out of law, the Christian must work for the re-establishment of order, that is, to recall the existence of a transcendent dimension of law. The point of reference is the Christological order. The Christian must constantly reorient law, and stress the creative sense and the social function of law. Ellul invites the Church to exercise its role of mediation and conciliation so that all social groups may rally around certain values, and accept the authority of a law which would bring them into being. Ellul also rejects all notions of a Christian law since he opposes the idea of obliging non-Christians to believe in a faith and values which they do not share.

Notes on the Catholic Church and Technology

by Sergio Silva G., ss.cc.

Sergio Silva is a priest of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart and Professor of Theology as the Catholic University of Chile. Recently he spent a week in residence as a visiting scholar at the Science, Technology, Society Program of Pennsylvania State University. In the future he will be collaborating with Carl Mitcham and Jim Grote in the development of more bibliographic documentation concerning theological reflection on technology, especially in Latin America.

These notes are based on my book (written with the collaboration of Pedro Boccardo) La idea de la ticnica modema en el Magisterio de la Iglesia, desde Pio XII hasta Juan Pablo II (1985) (The Idea of Modem Technology in the Magisterium of the Church from Pius XII to John Paul II [1985]), published in Anales de la Facultad de Teologla 38, 1987, Cuademo 2, Santiago de Chile, Pontificia Universidad Catdlica de Chile, 1989,166 pages. — S.S.

What contemporary Popes and the Second Vatican Council have said about technology reflects the thinking of the Church. Not that in the Catholic Church and in her theology there are no differences of opinion, but on this subject Popes and Council do not go beyond the Church.

To write the book I read and analyzed all that the Popes and the Council have said on technology. It should be immediately noted that Popes and Council seldom reflect explicitly about technology; their statements are usually indirect, apropos other subjects, and in most cases are not in the Encyclicals (letters in which the Pope engages his teaching authority at the utmost, without being infallible), but in occasional speeches to various groups, especially at the Wednesday open audiences. I have collected all such statements (or so I hope) and have tried to organize them systematically.

I have found 409 relevant documents. From Pius XII (1939-1958), 98; from John XXIII (1958-1963), 28; from the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), 8; from Paul VI, 98; and from John Paul II (1978 till 1985), 177.


My main conclusion is that the Popes and the Second Vatican Council have (with some subtle but significant shifts between them) fundamentally the same attitude toward modern technology, an attitude that can be summarized as follows:

1. The documents stress the importance of modern technology as one factor that contributes to the shaping of modem society and its culture.

2. When they come to evaluate modem technology, their statements are of the form "Yes, but." Yes: they affirm technology in itself, that is, they believe that the human ability to know and to dominate nature has been created by God, so that in this abstract and general sense, technology is God’s gift. But: this means that contemporary technology is not always and equally acceptable.

Repeatedly, papal documents refer, on three levels, to the ambiguity of modem technology. First, the forces controlled by technology can be used for good or bad, to support life or to sow death. There is, therefore, fundamentally an ambiguity of humanity, wounded by sin.

Second, modern technology' involves a serious threat to the human spirit. This threat is twofold. On the one hand, there is the issue of method: the method of modern science is legitimate when it is a question of knowing the natural world, but it becomes illegitimate when applied - as the only valid method - to human beings and their works. On the other hand, the problem is cultural: contemporary Western culture is more and more a scientific-technological culture; that is, the ultimate values are the objectivity of modern science and the efficiency of modem technology. But these values tend to destroy the humanness of humanity.

Last, but not least, the indefinitely growing power that modern technology puts in the hands of this wounded humankind -- its limitlessness -- gives to the problem of ambiguity a new dimension and makes it qualitatively different. On the one hand, to say it simply, ambiguity is of a different order when it is concerned with the ability to kill a few people or to destroy all life on our planet. On the other hand (and this is more decisive), there is the difficulty of controlling and dominating this technical development and all its effects in the life of society and of individuals.

The papal documents stress four areas in which this difficulty of controlling technology is most obvious: environmental pollution, the destruction of cultures among underdeveloped peoples, damage to the inner life (self-consciousness, awareness, contemplative life), and the triumph of the scientific-technical positivist ideology.


After this brief summary, it is helpful to ask: What is specifically theological in these statements about technology? What do they contribute (if anything) to a philosophy of technology? There are at least two specifically theological points in the documents analyzed.

1. The first is that technology is God’s gift to humankind. This point can be regarded as a purely formal one, only necessary in the ecclesiastical language game. But it is accompanied by a more global affirmation that the earth (the object of technological manipulation and transformation) belongs to God, and that he has given it in stewardship to human beings.

These statements can make a twofold contribution to the philosophy of technology. On the one hand, a radical denial of technology is excluded, because as an ability of human nature it is God’s gift. Yet, on the other hand, every concrete historical technology, including our modem scientifically based technology, must be criticized because it is not obvious that it respects the earth as the creation of God.

2. The second theological affirmation is that the problems with technology are rooted in ambiguities that derive ultimately from sin. Given that sin can be defeated only by Christ, and that his victory shall encompass the whole world only at his second coming, technology, in the light of Christian faith, will always remain, now and in every imaginable historical future, ambiguous.

From here we can conclude that Christians must undertake the effort and the struggle to transform modem technology, so as to deliver it of its bad aspects, because Christians must struggle against sin in all its forms. This must not be done with a utopian attitude, however, as if a perfect technology were possible. A moderate attitude is the only one that can help us to improve modem technology.


One can, however, go beyond the teaching explicitly contained in the papal documents. If the Popes and the Council were to view technology as a reified anthropology, as made in the image of humanity that prevails in modem culture, then it could be argued that Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of Christian faith, as the criterion of humanness, provides a standard for criticizing technology. If technology is to reify a "good" anthropology, it must be pursued in the light of the human personality of Jesus, of his kind of relations with nature and with human beings.

Finally, there are implications of the fundamental option for the poor made by the Catholic Church in Latin America, since the Conventions of Bishops in Medellin, Colombia (1968), and Puebla de los Angeles, Mexico (1979). This option is not made by the Church autonomously. It is the option of the God of Jesus himself, who is revealed in the Scriptures (and in the lives of his saints throughout the ages) as be who loves with special care and tenderness those of his creatures who have their lives unjustly threatened. This is what happens today with the poor in the Third and Fourth Worlds, and with nature. The teaching of the Church is therefore that technology ought to be used not to promote but to protect against such unjust threats.

Guidelines for Submissions to The Ellul Studies Forum

If you would like to make a submission to The Forum there are several ways to do so. If at all possible send both hard copy and a copy of your computer file. The Forum is prepared using Ventura Publisher software. Ventura will accept files from several MS-DOS (IBM compatible) wordprocessing programs - WordStar, Microsoft Word, Word Perfect, Xywrite, Nota Bene, Multimate, Displaywrite and Gies in DCA or ASCII format. Copy should be typed flush left with no paragraph indentations and with a single return at the end each paragraph. The Bold command may be used for emphasis but all Italics should be indicated by using the Underline command. Also please do not use hard hyphens in your text. End notes should be typed as regular text. Do not use the footnote program in your software as Ventura does not read such notes. Also number your notes in the text with a Superscript command. Submissions may be sent on a 57

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Bibliographic Notes on Theology and Technology

by Carl Mitcham and Jim Grote

Eighth in a series. Contributions welcome.
Please send books, articles, or notes themselves to: Carl Mitcham
Philosophy and Technology Studies Center
Polytechnic University
333 Jay Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

George Parkin Grant. Technology and Justice. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1986. Pp. 133. A selection of essays on the relation between Christianity and modern technology, including critiques of abortion and euthanasia. Grant is especially sensitive to the fascist implications of "quality of life" theologians like Joseph Fletcher who define "personhood" on the basis of neo-cortical function. Regarding Fletcher’s indicators of personhood, Grant writes: "The list includes self-awareness, a sense of time, self-control, capability of relating to others, the ability to communicate, a concern for others, control over existence, and a balance of rationality and feeling. A bit unnerving when one looks at oneself. How many of us would qualify?" (pp. 126-127).

Grant, George Parkin. English-Speaking Justice. Notre ’"tiame,TN: “University of Notre Dame Press,'1985. Fp. xi, 104. First published, Sackville, New Brunswick: Mount Allison University, 1974. Pp. 112. Critique of John Rawls’ A Theory ofJusti.ee. (1971). Within this critique Grant sketches the complex historical relationship between liberal social contract theoiy, Protestantism, and modern technology. According to Grant, the philosophical weaknesses of social contract theory have been hidden for generations by the material success of technology and the voluntarist faith of Protestant theology. The problematic character of this historical symbiosis of political liberalism, Protestantism, and technology is now coming to light. Social equality is no longer a liberating but a restraining ideal for the progress of technology. While technology depended on the notion of equality in its inception, that dependency has now been outgrown.. Liberalism-fails by the wayside as humankind turns from the conquest of non-human nature to the conquest of human nature. Favorable review: Jim Grote, "Technology and the End of Liberalism," Research in Philosophy and Technology, vol. 9 (1989), pp. 227-231.

Hawkin, David J. "The Johannine Concept of Truth and Its Implications for a Technological Society,"Evangelical Quarterty.59, no. 1 (January 1987), pp. 3-13. An exegesis of truth as revelation in the fourth gospel, followed by reflections on the implications for social activism, since the Gospel of John has often been used to justify a kind of spiritual withdraw! from the world. "The Fourth Gospel is not ‘quietist.’ It does not advocate mere passivity and receptivity before God. But neither is it 'activist. ’ The Fourth Gospel maintains that there should be no sustained and intelligent Christian action unless it is informed by the whole life of faith.... Thus the Christian’s activity in the world has a fundamentally different starting point from that ofsecularized, technological man. The Liberal philosophy which undergirds the technological society asserts that man’s ends are willed from within the horizon of the finite. The Fourth Gospel summons men to live beyond the limits of the finite, in communion with the Father" (p. 13).

Jegen, Mary Evelyn, and Bruno U. Manno, eds. The Earth Is the Lord’s: Essays on Stewardship. New York: Paulist Press, 1978. Pp. ix, 215. Popular essays from a seminar sponsored by Bread for the World Educational Fund. Includes (among many articles) Ronald J. Sider’s "A Biblical Perspective on Stewardship" and William J. Byron’s "The Ethics of Stewardship."

John Paul II, Pope. "A Dynamic Relationship of Theology and Science," Origins 18, no. 23 (November 17,1988), pp. 375-378. Letter occasioned by the publication of papers from a workshop at the Vatican Academy of Science honoring the 300th anniversay of Newton’s Principia. "Only a dynamic relationship between theology and science can reveal those limits which support the integrity of either discipline, so that theology does not profess a pseudoscience and science does not become an unconscious theology." Also included in Robert John Russell, William R. Stoeger, SJ, and George V. Coyne, SJ, eds, Physics, Philosophy, and Theology: A Common Quest for Understanding (Vatican: Vatican Observatory; Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988), pp. M1-M14; and under the title "A New Fusionism: Are Science and Religion Compatible?" iji Crisis 7, no. 3 (March 1989), pp. 39-41.

John Paul II, Pope. Toward a True Ecology," Pope Speaks 33, no. 4. (Winter 1988), pp. 323-327. Thlk to representatives of science, art, and journalism at the "Festpielhaus" Theater in Salzburg, June 26, 1988. Quoting his words from a speech five years previously in Vienna, the Pope repeats that "The human person and his world - our earth, which we saw during the first orbits around it as a star in green and blue - must be protected and developed. In the horizon of faith the earth is not a limitless, exploitable reservoir, but a part of the mystery of creation, which one may not treat greedily, but rather owes it wonder and reverence." Continuing, he maintains that "In order to arrive at this attitude, we need a culture of asceticism which will enable people and the diverse human communities to achieve freedom also as a readiness to renounce one’s own power and greatness, and thus from within themselves make room for others, particularly the weak" (p. 327).

John Paul II, Pope. "Science and the Church in the Nuclear Age,” Origins 12, no. 8 (July 15,1982), pp. 126-128. Talk delivered to researchers at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), June 15,1982. Science and religion are in a new period of dialogue in which religion "rejoices at the progress of science" (no. 8). But there is also a need for "harmonizing the values of technology issuing from science with the values of conscience" (no. 9)-

Kaiser, Edwin, G., CPPS. Theology of Work. Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1966. Pp. xxi, 521. Part One briefly Overviews work in the Bible and Catholic encyclicals in comparison with work in slavery and the pagan concept of work. Parts Two, Three and Four provide more detailed analyses of work in the Old and New Testaments, early Christian attitudes, and in the Middle Ages, respectively. Part Five focuses on "Work in the Modern Age," with chapters on capitalism, Marxism, and "The World of Work Today." Part Six contains a theological appraisal of "The Vfelue of Dignity and Discipline," "\&lue of Duty and Right," "Virtue in Work," and "The %lue of Association." Part Seven examines "Work in Its Current Problems," including Chapter 22 on "The Problem of Automation," the first section of which is entitled "Automation: The Final Challenge of Technology." Part Eight deals with "Special Areas of Papal "teaching," while Part Nine is on "Work and Worship. From Chapter 22: "The problem of technology has long been recognized as the basic adjustment of man to a mechanized social order" (p. 361). Distinguishes between First and Second Industrial Revolutions. Effects of automation include unemployment and the taking over of some human decision making by machines. A "theological critique" argues against allowing the economy to take on an autonomous character and for subordinating technology to the promotion of "the personal human values of the social virtues" (p. 370). "If men are To be trained to direct and guide an automated economy, they must be trained in the moral-personal values of the social order with a clear perception of the moral-personal goals and the absolute demand for moral means to attain them.... "Raining an engineer merely as an engineer for a technological social order in which he is to make final decisions can never be morally justified" (p. 370). Indudes a review of Papal teachings and an extended critidsm of featherbedding. Some good references to German discussions, a chronology of the American labor movement, and a brief bibliography.

Kass, Leon. "What’s Wrong With Babel?" American Scholar 58, no. 1 (Winter 1989), pp. 41-60. Classic Straussian biblical commentary. Kass takes Genesis 11:1-9 and compares the story of Babel with Plato’s myth of the cave. In both stories the "fire" of technology is central to the rise of civilization and the simultaneous "fall of man." The desire for self-sufficiency embedded in the dream of the universal qty (Babel) and in the dream of the autonomous knowledge of good and evil (Adam and Eve) ultimately leads to humankind’s complete estrangement from God. God’s punishment by the "confusion of speech" fits the crime of prideful self-sufficiency. "The emergence of multiple nations... challenges the view of human self-sufficiency. Each nation, by its very existence, testifies against the godlike status of every other.. .. The prospect of war ... prevents forgetfulness of mortality, vulnerability, and insufficiency. Such times of crisis are often times that open men most to think about the eternal and. the divine" (pp. 55-56). Kass compares the universal language before Babel (Gen 11:1) with the new universal language of "symbolic mathematics" so necessary to "the dream of Babel today." Contains many arguments similar to those in Ellul’s The Meaning of the City (1970).

Klotz, John W. Ecology Crisis: God’s Creation and Man’s Pollution. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971. Pp. 176. Spends more time cataloguing numerous environmental problems than articulating a Christian ethic of ecology. Reviewed by Wilbur L. Bullock in Christian Scholar’s Review 2, no. 1 (Fall 1971), pp. 87-88.

Mangum, John M., ed. The New Faith-Science Debate: Probing Cosmology, Technology, and Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989. Pp. x, 165. Proceedings from a conference of 45 young theologians and sdentists-technologists on the theme "The New Scientific/Rchnological World: What Difference Does It Make for the Churches?" (Larnaca, Cyprus, 1987). Paul Abrecht, from the "Foreword": "The discussion of science and faith is at least several centuries old, but the confrontation that began in the middle of this century - roughly after the discovery of nuclear energy and its use in the making of atomic bombs - has raised quite new issues. In the earlier confrontation the fundamental issue was the clash between Christian belief and scientific knowledge, especially between the scientific understanding of the world and Christian views on creation. In that debate the churches were generally on the defensive.... The contemporary encounter between faith and science is quite different from the earlier one. The rapid advances of modem science, its tremendous successes, and the technological revolution to which it has led in the last half century have given rise to new concern and questions about the future of humanity in a world increasingly dominated by scientific understanding. Today, as a result, science and science-based technology are on the defensive, and religious faith, speaking in the name of troubled and anxious humanity, has begun to ask questions about the consequences of the scientific world view" (p. viii). Contents: Bengt Gustafsson’s "The Current Scientific World View," Arthur Peacocke’s "The Challenge of Science to Theology and. the Church," Victor Westhelle’s "The Challenge of Theology to Science and the Church," Gerhard Liedke’s "The Challenge of the Church to Science and Theology," Harold P. Nebelsick’s "The Uisk of the Church in the New Scientific Age," Judith K. Larsen’s "How High-Tbch Is Changing American Society," Ronald Cole-Turner’s "Genetic Engineering: Our Role in Creation," Naozumi Eto’s "Asian World Religions and Post-modem Science," Vincent P.K. Titanji’s "Scientific Research Is My Christian Vocation," "ted Peters’ "Reflections on Science as a Vocation," Robert John Russell’s "Agenda for the Twenty-first Century," and Paulos Mar Gregorios’ "Six Biblical Studies." Appendices contain group reports from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America, and international roundtables.

”Manufactured Motherhood: The Ethics of the New Reproductive "techniques." Logos (Philosophic Issues in Christian Perspective; Santa Clara University), vol. 9 (1988). Pp. xi, 213. Part I, "General Issues in Reproductive Ethics," contains Albert R. Jonsen’s "Ethics of Reproduaive Technology: The Deconstruction of a Paradigm," Lisa Sowell Cahill’s "Women, Marriage, Parenthood: What Are Their *Natures’?", Joseph Ellin’s "Reproductive . Technology, Catholicism, Feminism and the Thesis of Bootstrap Pessimism," and Nancy (Aim) Davis’s "Reproductive Technologies and Our Attitudes Towards Children." Part H, "Surrogate Motherhood,” contains Lori B. Andres’ "Feminism Revisited: Fallacies and Policies in the Surrogacy Debate," Herbert T Krimmel’s "Surrogate Mother Arrangements from the Perspective of the Child," Usa H. Newton’s "Surrogate Motherhood and the Limits of Rational Ethics," Leonard M. Heck’s "Surrogate Motherhood: Is It Morally Equivalent to Selling Babies?", June Carbone’s "The Umits of Contract in family Law. An Analysis of Surrogate Motherhood," and Laurence D. Houlgate’s "Whose Child? In Rt Baby Af and the Biological Preference Principle." Part HI, "Other Issues," contains David N. James’ "Why Donor Artificial Insemination Is Immoral" and Kevin M. Stanley’s "Moral Issues and Public Policy Concerns Surrounding Sex Preselection." Despite the commitments of Logos, only two articles deal at any length with uniquely Christian perspectives on the issue of "manufactured motherhood." Cahill considers the Instruction on reproductive technology of the the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1987) and its distinction between homologous methods (involving only the married parents, as in artificial insemination with husband) and heterologous methods (e.g., artificial insemination with donor or AID). Cahill criticizes the Vatican Instruction argument for rejection of homologous methods but agrees with arguments against heterologous methods. James, however, later rejects the natural law critique of AID. For James, none of the "possible senses of ‘natural’ warrant the conclusion that while ordinary procreation is natural and therefore right, AID is unnatural and therefore wrong" (p. 183).

McDonagh, Sean. To Care for the Earth: A Call to a New Theology. Santa Fe, NM: Bear & Co., 1986. Pp. 224. Examines the current ecological crisis and proposes a new theology of the earth based on the writings of Tfeilhard de Chardin and Thomas Berry. By an Irish Columban missionary who has spent many years in the Philippines.

Ovitt, George, Jr. The Restoration of Perfection: Labor and Technology in Medieval Culture. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1987. Pp. xii, 272. Chapter one contrasts the modem view of progress as technology with the traditional Christian theology of progress as growth in self-mastery. Chapter two argues against the Lynn White thesis of Christian responsibility for the doctrine of the virtuousness of technology. Chapter three qualifies Max Weber’s observations regarding the positive interpretation of work in medieval monasticism by noting that in monastic theology work was always subordinate to spiritual growth and the development of community. Chapters four and five examine medieval attempts to locate the "mechanical arts" in a hierarchy of values and concludes that while always ranking them low, the 1200s witness an increasing respect for technology because of revolution-aiy changes in agriculture, energy use, and commerce that gave rise to a gradual "secularization" of labor. Theological acknowledgement of work as an independent domain in society is more an accomodation than a creation. Chapter six offers a somewhat speculative sociology of workers in the middle ages.

Pope, Hugh. "St Augustine and the World of Nature," in St. Augustine of Hippo (Garden City, NY: Image, 1961), pp. 207-231. On the empirical observations of Augustine the naturalist. Mentions Augustine’s argument that the book of nature, like the books of Scripture, leads to an understanding of God.

Silva G., Sergio, SSCC. La Idea de la tecnica modema en el magisterior de la iglesia desde Pio XII hasta Juan Pablo II (1985) [The idea of modem technology in church teaching from Pius XII to John Paul II (1985)]. Anales de la Facultad de Teologia, vol. 38 (1987), no. 2. Santiago de Chile: Pontifica Universidad Catolica de Chile, 1989. Pp. 166. An excellent and well documented study of statements on technology by recent popes and Vatican Council II. The official Vatican attitude - with subtle but significant shifts between popes (e.g., John XXIII on nuclear weapons, Paul VI on development, increasing prominence of the problem of ecology, etc.) - emphasizes both the greatness and the risks of modern technology. As Silva concludes: There is "a positive evaluation of technology in itself, that is, of the capacity that God has placed with humanity to know and to dominate nature. But this does not mean that contemporary technological progress is equally acceptable" (p. 133). Repeatedly, papal documents refer to "the ambiguity of modem technology." "This ambiguity consists, in the first place, in that the forces controlled by technology can be used for good or bad. It is, therefore, fundamentally an ambiguity of humanity, wounded by sin. Nevertheless, the indefinite growth of the power that contemporary technology puts in the hands of this wounded humanity gives the problem a new dimension and makes it qualitatively distinct. Ambiguity is different when it is concerned with the ability to kill a few people or to destroy all life on the planet." "But the ambiguity of contemporary technology is not rooted solely in the use that is able to be made of it to support life or to sow death. There is also a serious danger to the human spirit. The problem has two aspects. On the one side there is the issue of method.... On the other side... the problem is cultural...." "The popes point out still a third aspect that contributes to making modem technology an ambiguous phenomenon. This concerns the difficulty of controlling and dominating technical development and all its effects in the life of society" (p. 134). This book is based on "La tecnica y su influencia en la cultura: El penasmiento del magisterio desde Pio XII hasta Pablo VI," Theologia y Vida 21, nos. 3-4 (1980), pp. 287-329; and "Alcancesy riesgos de la tecnica moderna: El pensamiento del Magisterio universal de la Iglesia desde Pio XII hasta Pablo VI," Revista Universitaria de la Universidad Catolica de Chile, whole no. 6 (October 1981), pp. 79-91. See also the author’s "La tecnica modema en la crisis cultural de nuestro tiempo," Revista Universitaria de la Universidad Catolica de Chile, whole no. 14 (1985), pp. 18-25.

Stackhouse, Max L. Public Theology and Political Economy: Christian Stewardship in Modem Society. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987. Pp. xiv, 177. Chapter 8 is on "Sacrament and Technology." "In religion, sacrament is the primal form of technique - it is the skill and the art by which we symbolize the most profound connections between the most abstract logics of meaning and the realities of the material world" (p. 153). "Were the rich significance of sacramental actions spelled out and made living realities in modern technological societies, our stewardship of the Word might not only become enfleshed in ritual behaviors and liturgical forms. It might become publicly embodied in a more just, participatory, and sustainable technological civilization able to resist the temptation to use the bomb and less inclined to idolize artificial intelligence than to seek, trust, and honor the one Intelligence that stands behind it all" (p. 155).

Tillich, Paul. The Spiritual Situation in Our Technical Society. J. Mark Thomas, ed. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1988. Pp. xxi, 213. Previously unpublished lectures, untranslated papers, and uncollected articles. Contents: "The World Situation" (1945), "The Lost Dimension in Religion" (1958), "The Logos and Mythos of Technology" (1927, trans.), "The Freedom of Science" (1932, trans.), "Participation and Knowledge: Problems of an Ontology of Cognition" (1955), "How Has Science in the Last Century Changed Man’s View of Himself?" (1965), "The Decline and the Validity of the Idea of Progress" (1966), "Expressions of Man’s Self-Understanding in the Philosophy and the Sciences" (1963, lecture), "Thing and Self" (1959, lecture), "The Person in a Technical Society" (1953), "Environment and the Individual" (1957), "Conformity" (1957), "The Relationship Today between Science and Religion" (1960), "Religion, Science, and Philosophy" (1963, lecture), "Science and the Contemporary World in the View of a Theologian" (1961), "The Technical City as Symbol" (1928, trans.), "Has Man’s Conquest of Space Increased or Diminished His Stature?" (1963), "Seven Theses concerning the Nuclear Dilemma" (1961), and "The Hydrogen Cobalt Bomb" (1954).

Williams, George Huntston. "Christian Attitudes Toward Nature," Christian Scholar’s Review 2, no. 1 (Fall 1971), pp. 3-35 and Ibid. 2, no. 2 (Spring 1972), pp. 112-126. Extensive review of scriptural, patristic, and later theological literature on nature with a view toward countering Lynn White’s thesis regarding the responsibility of Christianity for the ecological crisis (by a church historian). Williams investigates seven sets of scriptural antinomies and their theological traditions: (1) the involvement (Gen 3:17, Rum 3:22) dr ilcn-invotvement (Gen 1:31, Ps 19:1) of nature in the fall of man, (2) nature as decaying (IV Ezra 5:55, Ps 102:26) or as constant (Eccl 7:10), (3) nature as intrinsically good (Prov 8:30, Is 55:12) or as only instrumental to human dominion (Gen 1:28 & 9:1, Ps 8:6), (4) the desert wilderness as benign (Is 35:1, Jer 2:2, Rev 12:6) or as malign (Joel 2:3, Matt 4:1), (5) the books of nature and scripture as complimentary (Rom 1:20) or mutually exclusive (Rom 8), (6) tbe kingdom of God as pastoral (Gen 2:15) or political (Rev 21:1-2), and (7) salvation as pertaining to humankind alone (all of Scripture) or to the whole of creation (Is 11:16,1 Cor 15:28, Col 1:20). Arguments similar to H. Paul Santmire’s The Travail of Nature (1985). Oddly, on page 113, Williams quotes Rom 1:20 and references the quote as Rom 8:19. This essay appears in much abbreviated form under the same title in Colloquy 3, no. 4 (April 1970), pp. 12-15. The fourth antinomy is tbe subject of an entire book by Williams, Wilderness and Paradise in Christian Thought: The Biblical Experience of the Desert (New York: Harper & Row, 1962).

Young, David P. The Speed of Love: An Exploration of Christian Faithfulness in a Technological World. New York: Friendship Press, 1986. Pp. viii, 149. An introduction, prologue, and first two chapters argue for a religious judgment of technology as destroying human scale and not being used to help the poor. Quoting Kosuke Koyama: "Love has its speed. It is an inner speed.

It is a spiritual speed. It is a different kind of speed from the technological speed to which we are accustomed" (pp. 2-3). "What is critical is not how to regulate technology by laws or restrictions, but rather how to change oar relationship to technology through our values and discipleship choices. The important issue should be which technologies we choose to use and which we choose not to use because of what they do in terms of justice to person and planet" (pp. 6-7). Followed by chapters dealing with the destruction of mystery, computers, biotechnology, and nuclear power. Two concluding chapters stress that technology is not netural and that Christians must invent tbe future. There is a "leader’s Guide" with suggestions on how to use each chapter in a discussion class. A bit breezy, but useful as Sunday school literature, and as reflecting dedicated reformist liberal Christian thinking engaged with technology. A companion volume: David P. Young, ed., 21st Century Pioneering: A Scrapbook of the Future (New York: Friendship Press, 1986), a collection of essays, cartoons, poetry, etc.

Issue #6 Nov 1990 — Faith and Wealth in a Technological Civilization

A Forum For Scholarship on Theology in a Technological Civilization

In his recent book Circus of Ambition (Warner, 1989) John Taylor documents "the culture of wealth and power in the eighties." If accurate, his findings are discouraging indeed. Coupled with unabashed greed and power-mongering we might also think of the latest trends in the human misery index: five-hundred million people starving, one billion persons living in absolute poverty, and two billion people with no regular, dependable water supply. By the end of this calendar year the United States will spend $6 billion to keep its peace-keeping troops in Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries. How should a Christian think, and take action, in light of such realities?

The present issue of the Ellul Studies Forum is devoted to Christian perspectives on wealth. It is my pleasure to thank our contributors and to introduce them to you. Our Forum authors are Thomas Schmidt and Justo Gonza-lez.Thomas Schmidt completed Ph.D. studies at Cambridge University on the theme of hostility toward wealth in the Synoptic Gospels. He currently teaches New Testament studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA. Justo Gonzalez of Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, GA, is perhaps best known for his two widely read works Ute Story of Christianity (2 vols., Harper, 1984) and A History of Christian Thought (3 vols., Abingdon, 1988,13th printing). His most recent work, Faith and Wealth (Harper & Row, 1990), explores Christian attitudes toward wealth in the first four centuries of the church.

Concerning our reviewers, Don Thorsen is Professor of Theology at Azusa Pacific University, Graduate School of Theology, in Los Angeles. Michael Novak holds the George Fredrick Jewett Chair in Religion and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., and is the author of over twenty books. Our final contributor also hails from within he Beltway. After completing a Ph.D. in Religion and Society at Drew University, Dan Heimbach served as a Legislative Assistant for Indiana Senator Richard Lugar. He now serves on the White House staff at the Domestic Policy Council.

Daniel B. Clendenin
Guest Editor

Ellul Forum Conference at AAR, Nov. 17th

If you were confused by the announcement of the annual AAR conference in the last issue it was for good reason. The announcement indicated that the meeting would be held on Friday, November 17th. THAT WAS AN ERROR. The Ellul Forum will meet on Saturday (not Friday) November 17th, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon in the Lafayette room of the New Orleans Marriott. Thomas Hanks, author of God So Loved the Third World will present a "Critical Appraisal of Ellul’s Sexual Ethics." Hanks is pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He will be responded to by Nancy A. Hardesty, Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, and by Catherine Kroeger, who holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of Minnesota and specializes in women in the ancient world. This forum is open to anyone who is interested.

In This Issue

Book Reviews

Money and Power by Jacques Ellul Reviewed by Daniel Clendenin p. 2

Public Theology and Political Economy: Christian Stewardship in Modem Society by Max L. Stackhouse Reviewed by Daniel Heimbach p. 2

Faith and Wealth by Justo Gonzalez Reviewed by Michael Novak p. 3

The Stewardship of Life in the Kingdom of Death by Douglas John Hall

Reviewed by Don Thorsen p. 6

Forum On Faith And Wealth:

Some Reflections on Faith and Wealth

by Justo Gonzalez p. 5

Luke 14:33 and the Normativity of Dispossession by Thomas E. Schmidt p. 7

Book Reviews

Money and Power by Jacques Ellul

Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity, 1984.

Reviewed by Daniel Clendenin, William Tyndale College.

(Reprinted with permission from the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 27:2, June 1984.)

Readers interested in the steady stream of books form the pen of Jacques Ellul will be happy to learn of the recent translation of one of his older works. Money and Power, first published in 1954, with a second edition in 1979, is a theological study that examines the most practical of subjects - money-in light of the ^Biblical revelation. This translation of L’Homme et Pargent by LaVonne Neff comes with a foreword by David Gill and an "afterword" by Ellul from the 1979 edition. Readers need not fear that the work is thirty years behind the times for, in Ellul’s works, since 1950 "much has changed in appearance, little in reality." Besides, those familiar with the prophet from Bordeaux know that his creative insights and provocative analyses always make for valuable reading.

Our problem with money, writes Ellul, is that it has become abstract and impersonal. As a result we tend to subordinate the individual to the collective and look for answers in a better economic system. This search for a systemic solution is not only wrongheaded, for it overlooks the subjective element of fallen human nature; it is also hypocritical and cowardly, for it constitutes a cop-out We blame the system and deny the importance of our personal responsibility and individual actions. Collective action is not unimportant Ear from it But it must always be rooted in a deep sense of individual responsibility.

In the OX wealth represents God’s blessing and reward. The stories of Abraham, Job and Solomon remind us of this. Wealth was even a "sacrament," Ellul suggests, a material sign of a greater spiritual reality. Wealth was bestowed freely, it represented God’s superabundant grace, and it had both prophetic and eschatological characteristics. The sacramental sign, however, was always subordinated to the spiritual reality it signified, and our mistake today is to directly identify wealth with blessing.

Jesus Christ abolished the sacramental nature of wealth, for he himself is the ultimate blessing: "What would the gift of wealth mean now that God has given His Son?" He is now our only wealth." Jesus also shows us the true nature of money. It is not only a material reality that raises moral issues but also a spiritual power that is both active and personal. It is a god that we are tempted to worship. The problems it raises are not only external (oppression, for example) but internal (temptation), and Jesus forces us to choose between it and the true God.

Of special interest in Money and Power is Ellul’s fourth chapter ("Children and Money"), a discussion that is as unusual as it is needed and helpful How can we teach our children about money? First, we must adopt a "strict realism" that rejects all idealism and abstraction. Then by attitudes and actions, examples and opportunities, parents must assume a "dialectical" position. We must show our children, for example, that money is useful and necessary, but not for that reason "good," that it is not contemptible, but not respectable either, or something that we worship. Finally, we must avoid moralism and negativism and must realize that a spiritual power can only be fought with the spiritual weapon of prayer.

Ellul addresses these and a host of other practical questions. Who are the poor, and how can the Christian respond to them with meaning and integrity? What are we to make of the many Biblical passages that seem to automatically condemn the rich and bless the poor? What about savings accounts, insurance, asceticism and giving? After reading Ellul’s theological study, one is impressed with the sheer number and extent of passages in the Bible that bear on the topic of money. Readers will certainly not agree with all of his conclusions or with his exegesis, but that is no matter. As Gill writes in the foreword, Ellul never writes merely to enlighten a theoretical problem or to elicit intellectual assent. His purpose is to incite action, provoke our thinking and affect our lives. Those open to such a spiritual challenge will by no means be disappointed by Ellul’s creative analysis of this sensitive and vital issue.

Public Theology and Political Economy: Christian Stewardship in Modem Society

by Max L. Stackhouse. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987, xiv + 177 pp.

Reviewed by Daniel Heimbach, the White House, Washington D.C.

In this book Max Stackhouse seeks no less than to reconstruct the public relevance of Christian theology for the modem world. What he has written is partly an apology for the social legitimacy and public relevance of Christian witness, partly identification of resources for the practice of Christian sociology, and partly demonstration that theological perspectives are still needed to understand the deeper dynamics of life in community. Without question, Stackhouse issues a timely reminder that Christians not only can but must "responsibly link our theology to the structures and dynamics of the emerging political economy in a way that guides, refines, and selectively transforms that which is destructive and selectively sustains that which is creative and redemptive" (p. 174).

The work revolves around the conviction that theological ideas play a decisive role in social life and cannot be dismissed as idiosyncratic rationalizations of private faith. "Any transcendent reality worth attending to has implications for what we think and do on earth" having a "direct bearing on how we conduct worldly affairs? (p. x). It is motivated by the author’s view that the resources of Christian insight have seldom and adequately come to grips with key features of modem institutional life such as corporations, modem technology, and the multiplication of professions.

Stackhouse begins by laying out four touch stones of authority that enable us to speak in the public domain about ultimate moral reality and to discuss norms regarding why and how human life in community should be directed, sustained and corrected. Thes& touchstones are: Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience. He goes on to outline several "motifs” or "themes” that together constitute a matrix of foci for the liberation, vocation, covenant, moral law, sin, human freedom, ecdesiology, Trinity, and Christology. Stackhouse equates these with "ultimate principles of meaning" (p. 17) able to provide normative moral guidance. Each is described and discussed, but only as it pertains to the author’s immediate purpose. "Trinity" is thus the idea that unity can be achieved without destroying diversity, that diversity need not be a threat to ultimate truth. "Christology" is the theme of cultural transformation in the name of Christ, which Stackhouse identifies with the formation of a Christian sociology (p. 36).

After "re-" constructing the framework of a public theology in the early chapters, Stackhouse spends the remainder of the book articulating a renewed metaphysical-moral (viz. theological) vision of political (viz. public) economy. In other words, he gets down to the business of demonstrating the practical relevance of Christian theology for politics and economics. Here he addresses four topics: (1) the exercise of political power, (2) the rise of the corporation as the decisive center of production, (3) modem technology, and (4) pluralism as marked by the proliferation of professions.

In my view, Stackhouse makes his most worthy contributions in the practical sections of his work. For example, he warns against the politicization of religion. Politicization results from a confusion of piety with political power and a failure to adequately respect the importance of separating the institutional arrangements of church and state. He goes on, however, to stress that the value of institutional separation does not exhaust the meaning of piety and power. In fact, political power needs the sanction of religious authority to establish its moral legitimacy. Piety shapes political possibility, and "the shape of the dominant piety will shape the future of power" (p. 102).

Students of Jacques Ellul will be interested in how Stackhouse treats modem technology and the dramatic way it has increased our ability to intervene in nature. He observes that theological assessments of technology have gone to opposite extremes. Ellul is treated as a paragon of the pessimistic extreme which views technology as evil - a danger that offers the illusion of mastery of the universe alienating us from God. Ellul’s approach is contrasted to others, like Arend van Leeuwen, who have praised technology as so much a product of the Judeo-Christian belief system that it qualifies as a form of evangelism. Stackhouse settles on a middle-of-the-road approach that appreciates the moral ambiguities of technology but does not exclude recognition of its promise.

Because the book goes to the heart of a heated controversy over the legitimate place of theological witness in a pluralistic society, it will attract criticism and I have some of my own. First, is the rather unusual use of terms beginning with"public" as a modifier for theology. If the word has any meaning, it suggests something to be distinguished from a "private" theology that is idiosyncratic and without relevance to others. By accepting the distinction, Stackhouse sanctions an idea which although it is not novel among the detractors of theology is rarely associated with theologians themselves. "Democratization" is another term employed in a problematic manner. For Stackhouse it means the application of theological resources to the public domain. This usage is wholly unique and unsuspecting readers are warned not to be led astray by the seemingly familiar.

Second, is the almost comic way that Stackhouse undermines his own efforts to buck the intellectual forces of privatization that would exclude theological insight with its call to transcendent moral accountability from the arenas of public life. Although all the motives upon which he relies for normative comment are taken from Scripture (covenant, vocation, Hinity, etc.), Stackhouse so diminishes the authority of Scripture that one is left wondering how he can analyze the dimensions of public life with such confidence. For example, Stackhouse does not believe one can really go to Scripture to read the thoughts of God. Scriptural truth is relative and can change over time. No scripture passage can stand alone to settle what is true. Essentially, Stackhouse denies the normative standing of Scripture text. Thus he actually reinforces the idea that, perhaps more than any other, is responsible for moving people to conclude that theological insight is irrelevant to the public domain.

Stackhouse has written a book to define and defend the public relevance of Christian theology, and has made a fairly stimulating contribution worth consideration by the discriminating specialist, but while the book contains flashes of insight that will reinvigorate believers who may have begun to doubt the legitimacy of applying theological resources to the public domain, Stackhouse has not made a case to convince those who do not already accept the presuppositions of Christian faith, those upon whom it is hoped a public witness by Christians may have an effect.

Faith and Wealth by Justo L. Gonzalez

San Francisco, Harper & Row, 1990.

Reviewed by Michael Novak. American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.

The author of the three-volume/I History of Christian Thought and professor at Columbia Theological Seminary, Justo L. Gonzalez, has been so moved by liberation theology, he confesses, that he began "asking different questions of the same texts and paying more attention to texts dealing specifically with the economic and social order." Such texts, he found, were central to the life of the early church, even though they have usually been treated as tangential to it. One central question preoccupies him: "What Christians thought and taught regarding the rights and responsibilities of both rich and poor," a study of the history of ideas, not of economic history. The ancients, he notes, "had noword for our modem concept of economics: and for good reason - "they also lacked the concept.” They understood

The connections between die availability of commodities and price fluctuations. They speculated on why money is valuable and the connections between monetary value and societal conventions. What they did not do is link all this together into a coherent view of economic phenomena and their behavior. Much less did they see any connections but the most obvious between government policy and economic order. Not until the time of Diocletian did the Roman Empire have anything that even remotely resembled a budget. Even then, they apparently had little understanding between inflation and the money supply. Thus, while rulers were often concerned about the plight of the poor - for the threat they posed, if for no other reason - their only remedies were stopgap measures such as doles, (p. xiv)

For this reason Gonzalez prefers to speak of "faith and wealth" rather than of "faith and economics," since "strictly speaking, the ancient Christians, like all ancient Romans, had no economics."

The book is divided into three parts: the background of the ancient world; the pre-Constantinian writers on faith and wealth (from the New Testament to'Origen, Tfertullian and Lactantius); and the period after Constantine, from Athanasius and the Cappadocians to Augustine. A brief concluding summary rounds off the book

There are wonderful nuggets throughout, from the aristocratic Ambrose, who thought that working the land was the only noble occupation, whereas commerce is robbery, to the Cappadocian who taught that international commerce is one of the most dazzling metaphors for the interdependence of the Mystical Body of Christ. The variety in this testimony, the singularity and brilliance of individual views, and the differences in level of insight (both into wealth creating and to Christian truth) are a most interesting feature of this compendium.

Nonetheless, Professor Gonzalez is able toshowconvincingly that there was considerable consensus on certain limited matters. First, what a person does with his wealth (or with his poverty) is never considered irrelevant to Christian faith. Second, given the role of money and economic knowledge at the time, usury (practically any loan on interest) was universally condemned, even though a moderate amount of interest was legal according to civil law. Again, the early writers stress, as some pagan writers also did, that the seeker after wealth exhibits an unappeased appetite and a disposition to worry, i.e., a sad kind of poverty. (A seeker after wealth is different from a creator ofwealth, but the latter concept had not yet appeared in history.)

Other common beliefs: In giving to the poor, one lends to God, and so almsgiving is a very important religious activity. The rich are at a disadvantage when it comes to entering the Kingdom, partly because their wealth gives them both greater responsibilities and partly because it occasions distraction and seduction. Again, "in spite of the unanimously negative attitude toward accumulating wealth, writers share an equally unanimous positive attitude toward the things themselves that constitute wealth" (p. 226). So one must carefully distinguish between meanings of the world "wealth" - it can mean both things and their accumulation. Against gnostic notions about the evil of material creation, the church fathers were careful to insist that all things, including those that are usually counted as wealth, are good. But they also warn against the passion for accumulation and an inordinate love for things.

Great emphasis was also placed upon the voluntary nature of the sharing of goods in common, as was practiced in the first generations. This was later softened to almsgiving, but even here the early Church fathers commanded that one should keep for oneself only what is necessary and give the superfluous to the need}’, because "What is superfluous to some is necessary to the poor" (St. Augustine). On these matters, "the teachers and pastors we have been studying are flexible enough not to set stringent rules but to let believers determine what in their own case is necessary and what is superfluous, although some advise that believers should not make this decision strictly on their own, but rather guided by a spiritual mentor. Augustine also suggests the tithe as a minimum measure" (p. 227).

All the early writers take private property for granted, and Clement of Alexandria argues that without private property, no one could obey the commandment of Jesus to give to the poor. Some authors argue that private property exists only because of our fallen condition. In contrast with Roman law, which considered property rights absolute, Christian authors stressed that property ultimately belongs to God; that human beings can claim no more than a temporary ownership of it, a kind of stewardship; and, third, that Christians will be judged on their use of their own property, and specifically how they have shared it with those in need.

As Gonzalez points out, Ambrose stands practically alone in condemning trade, as when he declared that God made the sea for fishing an not for sailing; whereas Chrysostom praises God for creating the sea so that people can travel long distances and meet each other’s material needs through trade. And Lactantius declares that just as God gave antlers to the deer to defend itself, humankind has been given each other, so that through social life, mutual support, and trade, we may defend ourselves.

Gonzalez also notes certain development in Christian thought, as time went on. More and more stress comes to be placed upon enjoying the things of this world as a way of pleasing God, and learning to raise one’s heart in gratitude and in detachment. The proof of such detachment is the serenity one maintains when eveything is taken away - as quite often happened under conquest, plague, and famine in the ancient world, "Things are to be used, not enjoyed," in the sense that preoccupation with things must be avoided. Ironically, this later teaching suggests that the affluent who do not have to worry about material things may be less spiritually threatened than the very poorwhose preoccupation with them is necessary.

Gonzalez closes on this note; "The doctrine of creation remains one of the pillars on which most of the authors we have studied build their arguments on the proper use of wealth" (p. 232). This is exactly the conclusion reached by Pope John Paul n, the reason for his stress on creation theology. By contrast, liberation theology has very little to say about the creation of new wealth, which is badly needed in order to feed and to clothe growing populations, whereas creation theology shares in two important modem insights into the nature of wealth. First, wealth does not consist primarily in land, gold, or precious objects, but in creative ideas. Second, as the main cause of wealth is human capital, or mind, so the main condition for its creation is a social structure favorable to invention, the free exchange of ideas, and free intellectual interaction: in short, "the system of natural liberty."

Not until Adam Smith, alas, was there clarity about the nature and cause of wealth of nations sufficient to constitute the new science of economics. Nonetheless, both Gonzalez and contemporary liberation theologians neglect this new knowledge; they think of wealth in a pre-modem, pre-economic way. In the modem view, the main cause of wealth is not conquest or plunder, as the ancients thought, living in their walled cities against just such eventualities; rather, the cause of wealth is invention, discovery, innovation. Under these new circumstances, new wealth can be created without taking anything from anybody else. The early Christian writers lacked such sophistication; basic concepts of economics (including wealth and its creation) had not yet been formulated, and many modem theologians still entertain premodem conceptions of wealth. Gonzalez does not help us to overcome this deficiency.

Just the same, in commending intense concern for the poor, and both detachment from material things and respect for them as gifts of God, the early Christian writers taught some moral lessons of enduring value. Yet on the urgent questions that concern us today — how to design systems of political economy that will raise the poor out of poverty, and how to nourish Christian prayer and virtue in a prosperous society (whose economic system works) the early Church writers have very little to say. How could they? Systematic reasoning about economic matters would require many more centuries of trial and error - some thirteen more centuries after Augustine - before it would come to fruition. Indeed, there is still more to do on this front today; the development of economics and of Qiristian reflection upon it is not at an end. This book is a useful text in such reflection, but it is marred by its lack of sophistication about modem economics. One wishes that the same texts would be read in a more sophisticated light; one suspects that they might have much to say about creation theology, human capital, and the inventive power of mind.

The Stewardship of Life in the Kingdom of Death.

Douglas John Hall. Rev. Ed., Eerdmans for the Commission on Stewardship, National Council of Churches, 1988,144 pages.

Reviewed by Don Thorsen, Azusa Pacific University

In The Stewardship of Life in the Kingdom of Death, Douglas

John Hall refers to the ancient concept of stewardship as an all-encompassing symbol for the meaning of the Christian life. Hall contends that Christians should live as stewards of life in a world that can legitimately be called a "kingdom of death" - a world in which people experience suffering, injustice, oppression, war, and the threat of nuclear holocaust. Hall conceives of "life" in terms of the present world, and the Christian mission is to act, confront, resist, and protest in ways that improve the quality of our world. He rejects the"spiritualization" of the gospel characteristic of most contemporary churchesflOO). Hall wants to reverse the process of presenting eternal life as something that comes in the future. Instead, the abundant and eternal life of God’s kingdom should be conceived "concretely as a quality that belongs to the here-and-now" (115).

The structure of Hall’s book consists of five meditations upon passages in scripture, drawing upon the central motif they present. In these meditations, Hall discusses the current confusion in Christian mission, the deathlike orientation of the world, God’s covenant with life here-and-now, the Christian mandate to become involved in God’s plan for the world, and the hope of effecting qualitative changes in all dimensions of life. Hall provides dialogues for discussion at the end of each chapter and a brief synopsis of the five meditations at the end of the book.

Hall exudes passion for Christians to recognize their responsibility to live as Christians in the world. He realizes the depth of problems facing people today, and strives to persuade Christians to "participate in God’s mission to preserve and enhance the world’s life in the midst of civilizational decay and death" (124). Hall considers the stewardship of life a mandate to act in accordance with the covenant of life God has made with the whole creation (and not just people). This mission implies a strong polemic against war and a quest for justice that is hard for peoples of affluent nations to grasp.

The use of meditations is a provocative approach to the subject of he book, but Hall’s exegesis is not. Hall is as guilty of ignoring the contest of scriptural passages and of offering a truncated gospel as those he criticizes of spiritualizing the Christian message. For example, Hall romanticizes the older Testament tradition of Judaism as if it represents a pristine source of divine truth without influence from other cultures, and repudiates much of the newer Testament due to Hellenistic influences. As a result, Hall considers Christians to be stewards of a "political gospel" (54), which sacrifices the holistic nature of the Christian message - found in the older as well as newer Tfestament - for the sake of rectifying centuries of social irresponsibility. A more compelling scriptural argument could be made on behalf of his concern for stewardship of life in a kingdom of death.

The Stewardship of Life in the Kingdom of Death represents the revised edition of an earlier book by the same name. Hall did not make extensive changes in his revised edition, but tried to clarify points which readers found ambiguous in the original. In particular, Hall responds to confusion over his criticism of Christian "evangelicalism" as too diffuse. So in several places he distinguishes between traditional forms of Christian conservativism and popular contemporary expressions of Christian triumphalism. However, Hall continues to generalize and sometimes caricature what he refers to as sectarian (fundamental, evangelical, and spiritualistic) Christianity.


Some Reflections on Faith and Wealth

Justo L. Gonzalez Columbia Theological Seminary

I have been asked towrite a reflection on the ethical ramifications of my recent book, Faith and Wealth. In some ways, I am more inclined to reflect on its theological ramifications. Ilie reason for this is that, partly as a result of my research, I have begun to see the value of a different approach to issues of theology and ethics. As a theologian, what I find most significant in my research is the central role that issues of faith and wealth play in the theology of most early Christian writers. Many of us have been formed in an academic tradition in which there is a separate field of "social ethics," whose principles of action are largely drawn as corollaries from theology and doctrine. From this perspective, issues of wealth are an appendix to issues of faith. Theology has to do with the doctrine of the Trinity, of creation, etc. Money, on the other hand, is an ethical issue. First we must clarify the faith, and then we may discuss matters of wealth.

That is not what I find in most Christian writers of the first four centuries. On the contrary, to them issues of-wealth are integral to issues of faith, to the point that a test of orthodoxy is how one deals with the widow, the orphan and the poor. If one were to take as an example Ambrose’s doctrine of creation, one would soon see that this doctrine is also an understanding of property rights and their limits. Thus, one does not do theology first, and then reflect on its ethical implications. Rather, one lives out a faith, one practices an ethic, and in the very process of that living out, one begins to reflect on the theological dimensions of the faith.

Thus, what has most intrigued me as my research has progressed is not the number of passages dealing with faith and wealth (literally, hundreds of them), nor the surprisingly radical statements contained in many of them, but the scant attention that such passages have received in later centuries - and certainly among North-Atlantic Protestant scholars. Why is it that we have been so interested in discovering what Ambrose had to say about creation, or about baptism, but not in what he had to say about money and about property?

One may take as an example the emphasis in the early church on the commonality of property. It is clear that when we speak of such commonality our statements need to be nuanced, for what was meant by such commonality is different from much that is meant today by the same phrase. But even so, the notion of the commonality of property persisted as an ideal, and often as a practice, for much longer than we usually imagine. Even words that we today use in a different sense, such as koinonla -and especially the verb, koinondin- have meanings and overtones relating to such commonality. Much could be said about this. In the limited space available here it should suffice to indicate that, when two people are koinondi, this does not mean that they have "fellowship" with each other, but rather that they are partners in a business venture, or that they own something in common. And koinon^in does not mean to have nice feelings towards each other, but to share with each other - which is also true of the Latin counterpart, communicare. In any case, what I find surprising is not all of this, but rather that, in spite of so much talk about koinonla -and perhaps because of it - we have somehow managed to take the teeth out of what was a very radical understanding of the Christian community and of stewardship within it. Thus, the primary question is not whether we should practice the koinoma of the early church. That certainly is open to debate, since there are many differences between the social and economic order of late antiquity and ours. The primary question is why we have done so much to obscure what the early church said and did about its own koinonla.

As I reflect on these matters, it is clear to me that the reason for such historical neglect and misrepresentation is not primarily historical, but ethical. It is not that we have not had the texts available to us. It is rather that we have had reason to fear what the texts say. Indeed, when late in the nineteenth century and early in the twentieth there were a few scholars -mostly Roman Catholic monastics living under vows of poverty-who began unearthing some of the more radical economic views of the "Fathers," there soon was a strong reaction seeking to suppress and to ridicule their findings. As one now reads the texts from those debates, it is evident that what was at stake was not so much the historical question of what the ancients said, but the fear that this could be used to bolster modem socialist ideas. Those who attacked the so-called socialist interpretation of the "lathers" did so under the guise of historians and theologians; but in truth they were defenders of the status quo. In the final analysis, the question was not historical, but ethical.

The same is true today. Ultimately, the question for us is not what the ancients said, but what we are to say and to do. The ancients may serve us as an example; but we have no right to shift unto their shoulders the responsibility for whatever decisions we make. Indeed, what we can see and read in their texts will greatly depend on the degree to which we are actively seeking God’s will for us today, and certainly upon the particular calling which we have received from God.

Then, as I reflect on these matters, I can only do'so as the person I am, one who has been called and ordained as a teacher and pastor to God’s flock. Economists may be led by my book and by the writings of the ancients to a different series of reflections. But I am not an economist, and do not pretend to be. I am a pastor and a preacher, and it is as such that I read the ancients and seek to draw implications for my present task.

As a pastor in a North-American denomination most of whose members are far wealthier than the vast majority of humankind, I do have much to learn from the ancients and their preaching. When reading their writings, and especially their sermons, I am immediately led to ask, why were these early Christian preachers ready and able to preach in such a way? Clearly, the first requisite for such preaching is conviction. We must not think that such preaching was easy or did not involve a cost. It was precisely because of his preaching on matters such as this that Chrysostom died in exile. And for the same reasons Basil, Ambrose and others clashed with bureaucrats, landowners, and emperors.

This conviction included a genuine pastoral concern for the rich in their congregations. Chrysostom’s words to that effect were no mere rhetorical device. He was indeed convinced that, were he not to speak the truth to those among his flock who were rich, and show them the radical demands of the Gospel, he would be leading them towards damnation. Furthermore, some who had the harshest words against the greed of the rich had themselves come from the richer classes: Ambrose, Basil, Gregory of Nazianzen, Gregory of Nyssa. They were not thundering against "the rich" in general.

Many of "the rich" were their relatives and friends with whom they had grown up. It was out of concern for them that Basil said that those who withhold food from the hungry, or clothing from the naked, are nothing but "thieves." And for the same reason his brother Gregory of Nyssa bewails the fate of households whose wealth could relieve the misery of many, without themselves suffering from it.

Then, such preaching was possible because the preachers themselves had embraced a different way of life. Belonging themselves to a class where success in life was counted on the basis of the accumulation of wealth, they had refused to follow that path. All of them had given all or most of their own possessions to the poor, and lived very modestly. Indeed, this is a common theme in ancient Christian biography, to the point that it becomes the sine qua non of holiness. Preachers such as Ambrose and Basil could show the folly of a societal system in which people were valued according to their possessions, precisely because they themselves had given up their possessions. They could speak of giving money to the poor rather than to the church and its treasury, because they saw themselves as pastors of an entire city, rich and poor, and not as managers and builders of the assets of an institution.

What does all of this mean for us? I do not really know. Or rather, I think I know... but I am afraid to find out! Perhaps one of the reasons why we do not hear much of this sort of preaching today is that we preachers have ourselves embraced a way of life in which our value and success are measured by our own income, which in turn is largely determined by the size of our churches and the class to which our membership belongs. Perhaps one of the reasons is that we are more concerned for the wellbeing of the church as an institution than we are for the wellbeing of the poor. Perhaps, over the years, we have grown accustomed to an interpretation of the gospel that is more amiable and less demanding. Perhaps we no longer consider the poor part of the flock whom we must defend. Perhaps we no longer really consider ourselves shepherds of the rich, for whose souls we must answer. Perhaps.

The Ellul Studies Forum is published twice a year, (June and November), by the Department of Religious Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620

Editor: Darrell J. Fusching

Book Review Editor: Dan Clendenin

Editorial Advisory Board

Dan Clendenin, William Tyndale College

Cliff Christians, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

David Gill, New College Berkeley

Joyce Hankes, University of Scranton

Carl Mitcham, Polytechnic University

Gabriel Wtmniun, University Strasbourg

Luke 14:33 and the Normativity of Dispossession

Thomas E. Schmidt Westmont College

Ellul and Voluntary Poverty

Hui's Money and Power offers many insights which fly in the face of current politicized discussions of the subject and which are, in myopinion, supported by close scrutiny of the Gospels. Key among these are the link between personal wealth and independence from God, the expansion of the definition of the poor (and Jesus as the Poor One) beyond economic and political categories, and the suggestion that the appropriate response is personal and non-programmatic. My purpose in this essay is to extend the last area of discussion from a biblical theological perspective.

Ellul concludes the book by making the Rich Young Ruler story a paradigm of the Christian response (161):

We see in this story everything we have described up to this point: material emptying ("see what you possess"), spiritual emptying ("follow me"), joining the ranks of die poor without there being any social solution, without any amelioration of their fate ("give to the poor").

Rightly pointing out that all are rich who "know the impassable distance that still remains between them and the Poor One" (156), Ellul appears to confirm the normativity of the passage. But while he is not specific, he seems to understand this essentially and not literally. Commenting earlier on the same passage (113-114), he remarks:

But could we not ask if, as a result of our personal consecration, we should not give all of our goods? We think of die case of the rich young man to whom Jesus said, "Sell ofl that you have and distribute to the poor..and come, follow me" (Lk 18:22). We absolutely must not try to sidestep this ordei; for example by separating the scriptural commandments given to perfected Christians from the others. We must, on the contrary accept the order with ail its vigor and its absolute character. Yet even so, this order is rather unusual; we do not find it frequently in either Old or New Ttestament. We must take it then as a possibility that is always present, a demand that we cannot avoid but that is given only in exceptional cases to people especially called to follow it.

Many interpreters make similar comments in order to dismiss the passage, but Ellul attempts to retain its force. While I do not think that he goes as far as the Gospels warrant, Ellul is consistent with his conclusion when he goes on to suggest that, while "total giv-ing...is not a sine qua non of the Christian life," and while it will be "always the exception," nevertheless, "each Christian is called to consider this vocation as a possibility"; it is in fact "a sign and a prophetic act" (114-115). It is refreshing to see a self-described evangelical dare to take the Gospel demands so seriously. My purpose is to affirm this daring by considering carefully a single text which appears to call for complete dispossession of material goods as a condition of discipleship.

The Importance of Luke 14:33

Why a single text? Certainly the avoidance of the "vocation" of voluntary poverty has been served historically by those who can counter any one text by providing an example of a rich saint, or by noting that Jesus did not always demand total renunciation, or by claiming that such texts are aimed at a bad attitude which not everyone shares. Thus individual passages are rendered powerless by qualifications. Although I have argued elsewhere that such responses are exegetically unsound (not to mention self-serving),[40] it is not merely the limitation of space which leads here to a narrow focus. Rather, I wish to extend Ellul’s advocacy of each Christian’s consideration of the "call" by amplifying the voice. What I mean is that a recognition of the centrality of Jesus should mean that we focus on him for our ethics. If he has a lot to say on a given subject-and on this one he does—we should pay close attention. If he says approximately the same thing in several different ways at several different times-which in this area he does-any one of those sayings is worthy of our attention. Thus unless Jesus is ethically peripheral or inconsistent, any one command of his will merit the designation "normative." Ulis implies, first, that no command of Jesus should be neglected or cursorily interpreted. It also implies that Scriptural exceptions and alternative biblical models must be understood in light of Jesus as the central focus of the Scriptures, not the other way around. The record of the Church in recognizing these implications is a sorry one. Let us set that record aside for several pages and proceed as if one text, Luke 14:33, were the sole and sufficient statement of Jesus on the subject of economic ethics.

The verse is important for several reasons. Its placement is significant as the culminating passage in a chapter devoted to the subject of wealth and its relation to power (Ch. 16 and 18-19 are also important in this regard). The material in the passage gives evidence of extensive reworking by Luke to make its point as forcefully as possible. But perhaps most important for our purposes, there can be no mistaking the intended audience of the demand. Several of the sayings in Luke’s Gospel that require dispossession of material goods may be sidestepped as directed only to the Twelve (5:11,28; 6:20-21; 16:9; 12:33; 18:29-30) or to particular individuals (12:21; 16:14-31; 18:22; 19:8). 14:33 is not so subtle: whoever does not meet the condition "cannot be my disciple." "Disciple" (mathetes) is employed consistently in Acts to designate believers and so cannot be confined to followers of Jesus during his earthly ministry.[41] Indeed, were we to do so, we would lose the force not only of this but of virtually every command directed to disciples in the Gospel, and we would be forced to consider the ten chapters on discipleship to be intended as an interesting historical specimen. This is hardly admissable; we are left with a verse that is clearly intended to have some practical significance to believers of Luke’s generation-and by extension, to believers of our own generation. Precisely what does the demand entail?

The Context: The Cost Has Been Counted

For which of you, desiring to build a tower; does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, "This man began to build, and was not able to finish." Or what king, going to encounter another king in war; will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:28-33).

”Counting the Cost" is the traditional title for these parables in commentaries. They follow the Parable of the Great Banquet and thus raise questions about the continuity of the chapter. If the "excuse makers" and the "disenfranchised" of the parable represent, respectively, the rejecters and receivers of the Kingdom, the ethical instruction of w. 7-14 seems out of place. Banquet-attend-ers are instructed in w. 7-11 to take humble places, and banquetproviders are instructed in w. 12-14 to invite humble guests.

Critical commentators who regard the following parabsc:: literary vehicle to convey rejection or acceptance of Jesus often regard this ethical instruction as secondary moralizing. But a better explanation involves an appreciation of the convergence of ethical and soterioiogical matters in the first century Jewish mind. One’s behavior at a banquet was in fact indicative of one’s eternal destination, and the decision to accept or reject Jesus’s invitation to the Kingdom generally coincided with social position. Thus when we conclude that the unifying theme of w. 7-24 is that a person ought to renounce power or "humble" himself, this must be understood in terms of both inward orientation and outward manifestation (behavior and/or position). Therefore, while at a narrative level the transition from banquet parable to outdoor address is awkward, the continuity of theme justifies the construction of the chapter. The common theme is that personal sacrifice is an essential expression of one’s standing before God. More specifically, economic sacrifice, or identification with the poor (perhaps in the sense of becoming poor), will mark an individual as a subject of the Kingdom.

At first glance, v. 33 appears to be an overly specific inference from the parables of w. 28-32, and commentators have struggled to make sense of the connection. The explanation is found in the connection tow. 26-27, which precede the parables:

If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

The saying about family loyalty occurs in Matthew in another context (10:37), and the cross-bearing saying occurs in different contexts in three places (Mark 8:34; Matt 10:38; Luke 9:23-25). The formal connection between w. 26-27 and v. 33 is obvious in the beginning, "Whoever does not...". The specific objects of sacrifice are repeated elsewhere in the Gospels and are in fact combined in the important summary of the Rich Young Ruler passage (Luke 18:29). The pattern in this passage, while unusual by modem standards, involves putting the central statement in the middle of the list. This B-A-B pattern means that v. 27 is the general statement, and w. 26 and 33 are the specifications of it. This is confirmed grammatically by the gar which connect the parables as the ground of v. 27 and the oun which connects v. 33 as the inference from the parables.

This review of the context and structure of the passage helps to establish the general import of 14:33, but some crucial questions remain with regard to the parables and the meaning of the verse itself. The parables, as they are usually interpreted, present the unique notion that an individual calculates in advance whether or not he or she has "what it takes" (presumably spiritual strength) to become a follower of Jesus. It is also very odd to infer from this that discipleship is conditional upon renunciation, and I will suggest that another understanding of the parables clears away the confusion. The terms in v. 33 introduce another series of questions. Does "renounce" require physical abandonment or only mental detachment or "readiness" to part with things? Does "aU that he has" mean material possessions or earthly attachments in general? Does "disciple" denote anyone who will enter the Kingdom or only those with a particular vocation? After setting out a new interpretation of the parables and their connection to the demands, I will argue for the first option in each case and then offer some thoughts about the practicability of the passage.

Inadequacy of Resources in the Parables of w. 28-32

J. Jeremias summarizes the traditional explanation of the parables in w. 28-32: "Do not act without mature consideration, for a thing half done is worse than a thing never begun."[42] There are two objections to this explanation. First, it presents an exception to the normal call to disdpleship-and indeed, the surrounding demands-by describing it as deliberative and focused on the resources of the individual rather than the resources of God. Second, it makes the parables virtually irrelevant to v. 33. We should expect a consonant summary, such as, "Therefore, you must choose from the beginning to endure to the end." Instead, we find a resumption of the "humble yourself" theme.

A. JQlicher approached an acceptable understanding of the parables by arguing that both parables stress complete sacrifice as necessary to accomplish an important task.[43] The weakness of this understanding was noted by Wellhausen, who pointed out that v. 33 requires the opposite: instead of committing all of one’s resources to the task, one must abandon one’s resources.[44] Jullicher’s explanation meets this objection of the parables’ conclusion and is meant to be ironic, but this is probably overly subtle.

It is possible to understand the parables in a new way by stressing their linguistic connection to the conclusion rather than to the phrase, "count the cost." The key is the idea of ability. In w. 26,27, and 33, one is not able (dunatai) to be a disciple. In v. 31, the king must be able (ei dunatos cf. ei eksei in v. 28) to meet the opposing army. The implication in both parables is that the subjects do not have sufficient resources and that they will be mocked if they begin the task. Here a formal similarity to 14:8 (cf. v. 12) becomes important In 14:8, the one who acts on the assumption of the adequacy of his resources (taking the place of honor) will be mocked (told to sit in a lower place). If, however, he begins by renouncing his resources (taking the lower place), he will be a disciple (moved to a place of honor). The connection between the parables of w. 28-32 and their conclusion is more clear if we state the conclusions in converse form: "Reliance on one’s own inadequate resources precludes discipleship." The theme is hardly strange to Luke’s Gospel: in 17:28-33, ties to family and possessions preclude readiness for the judgment day, and in 12:16-34 and 16:9-12, disciples are urged to get rid of possessions which pose an encumbrance in the present crisis. The outos with which v. 33 begins, then, refers not to the beginnings of the parables, which depict cost-counting, but to their endings, which depict humiliation and failure. As tower-building or warmaking with inadequate resources are doomed, so discipleship with the encumbrances of family and possessions is doomed. Humble yourself and you will be exalted: renounce tower and war making and you will escape ridicule; renounce family and possessions and you will be rewarded. This is the argument of Ch. 14.

The Terms of Luke 14:33

Luke finds a graphic word for renunciation in apotassomai. The verb is used only here in NT material concerning wealth. The usual, almost formulaic, expression is "sell and give."[45] In narrative passages, disciples simply "leave" (aphiemi) possessions."[46] Apotassomai is employed in several NT passages to denote physical separation from persons or things.[47] Its use in earlier and contemporary literature sheds light on its meaning here. The most interesting incidents are in Philo, where the word is used in a similar context, including the following:

...(N)ot only does (Moses) renounce the whole belly, but with it scours away the feet, that is, the supports of pleasure....We must not fail to notice that Moses, when he refuses the entire belly, that is the filling of the stomach, he practically renounces the other passions too (Leg. AIL 3:142-145).

Have you won the Olympic crown of victory over all wealth, and so risen superior to all that wealth involves, that you accept nothing of what it brings for your use and enjoyment?...Will you see all the treasuries of wealth, one after the other; full to the brim, yet turn aside from them and avert your eyes?...For (a celestial and heavenly soul) taking its fill of the vision of incorruptible and genuine goods, bids farewell to the transient and spurious (Deus 145-151).

The consistent use of apotassomai in the literature of the period to denote physical separation requires the translation "give up" (NTV, NASB, JB) or "part with" (NEB, Modem Language). "Leave behind" is preferable to these translations because it conveys the sense accurately here and in narrative passages. "Renounce" (RSV, Living Bible) and "forsake" (KJV), while fair enough translations according to their dictionary definitions, have been so weakened by abstractions of the verse that they are no longer useful in discussions of the subject

The aorist tense of this verb indicates decisive action and not mere willingness to act, as some have interpreted the intent of the verse.[48] Not only is the notion of "willingness" excluded grammatically, but it also makes a mockery of NT ethics in general: "Not that I have reached the goal or even that I press on toward it, but I remain perpetually willing to move in the right direction if it ever becomes necessary."

”All that he has" (pasin tois heautou huparchousin) has been generalized to include not only the disciple’s material goods but also "his dear ones and everything his heart clings to. vea, even his own life, his own desires, plans, ideals and interests."[49] This kind of explanation may follow from discomfort with v. 33 as an inference from the preceding parables. Unfortunately, the practical result is to render the command so general that no one feels obligated to obey it The word used here for possessions (huparchonta) does not allow such vagueness. It is used consistently in the NT over a dozen times for personal property, including passages in Luke’s Gospel on the same theme (8:3; 12:15; 12:33; 19:8; cf. Acts 4:32). The radical nature of the command is highlighted by the word "all" (pas), which Luke inserts elsewhere to intensify the tradition (5:11; 5:28; 6:30; 18:22). The terminology here is clear and specific: "all that he has" means things that can be sold, given away, or abandoned.

Can the Text Be Spiritualized?

We are left with a command which, if allowed to speak on its own merits, appears to call every believer to abandon all possessions as an expression of discipleship. Is there anything in the context which might mitigate the severity of this demand, which might justify the long history of rationalization by believers who read it? The only possibility that I can see in the immediate context is to extrapolate from v. 26b, which calls each believer to give up ("hate"[50]) family and "...yes, even his own life.” If Jesus could not possibly mean that disciples must literally die as a prerequisite of discipleship, neither could he mean that they must literally leave behind possessions. Does he mean, then, that renunciation is primarily spiritual until death; Le., that one’s devotion culminates in death, which entails loss of family and possessions, and that this truth must be embraced at the beginning? Such a spiritualization of the passage would be inconsistent both with Jesus’s interest in actual behaviors and the examples of obedience to these commands in the Gospels and Acts. Such "retroactive obedience" is the ethical companion of "cheap grace."

A more sensible common denominator of the commands to leave family, life, and possessions is to understand Jesus as de-^.jnanding that from the beginning point of discipleship, one must conduct oneself as if these old resources no longer exist. The gospel deprives them of their power, or rather, replaces them with a new Power. When decisions are made now, they are not made with these old powers in view. The inevitable result, which is borne out in Gospel narratives and the epistolary literature, is that a new family comes into being, personal safety is disregarded, and possessions are employed exclusively for the work of the Kingdom. The new priorities are, respectively, disloyal, dangerous, and economically foolhardy. A new world has penetrated the old, refusing to compromise.

When we attempt ethical constructs in response to these kinds of statements of Jesus, then, perhaps it is best for us to resist not only spiritualizations of his demands but also justifications of our compromises. We should instead preserve the terminology of striving that Paul used, and we should remind ourselves that the first believers referred to themselves not as Christians but as those of The "Way. to the extent that we follow the new way of Jesus, in our living and not only in our thinking, we are disciples. Renunciation of the power of money will cost us more than a troubled conscience.

Back Cover

Book Reviewers Needed

If you are willing to be called upon as a reviewer for The Forum please contact Dan Clendenin, William Tyndale College, 35700 West Twelve Mile Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48331. Phone 313-553-7200.

Ellul Forum Meeting at the AAR Convention

A Critical Appraisal of Ellul’s Sexual Ethics by Tom Hanks author of God So Loved the Third World


Nancy A. Hardesty and Catherine Kroeger

Saturday, November 17th, 1990 at the New Orleans Marriott The Lafayette Room 10 a.m. -12 noon

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Issue #7 Jul 1991 — Jacques Ellul as a Theologian for Catholics

A Forum for Theology in a Technological Civilization
1991 Department of Religious Studies,
July 1991 Issue #7
University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620

In This Issue

Book Reviews:

The Technological Bluff by Jacques

ElluL Reviewed by Nicola

Hoggard Creegan p. 2

Reason for Being: A Meditation on Ecclesiastes by Jacques ElluL Reviewed by Dan Clendenin, p. 3

Into the Darkness: Discipleship in the Sermon on the Mount by Gene L. Davenport. Reviewed by Darrell J.

Fasching. p* 4

Ethics After Babel by Jeffrey Stout Reviewed by David Werther. p. 12

Forum: Jacques Ellul as a Theologian for Catholics

Jacques EBul and the Catholic Worker of the Next Century by Jeff Dietrich p.5

Jacques Ellul: A Catholic Worker

Vision of the Culture by Katharine Temple p. 6

Bom Again Catholic Workers: A Conversation between Jeff Dietrich and Katharine Temple

Jacques Ellul and Thomas Merton on Technique by Gene Davenport

Subscriptions p. 4

It was Martin Marty who once described Jacques Ellul as "the quintessential Protestant" of our time. This issue is devoted to exploring the thesis that this "quintessential Protestant" is also a theologian for Catholics. Back in my "Catholic days" when I first read Ellul, the affinity of his thought with that of both Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton immediately struck me. It is that affinity which is explored in this issue. The work of putting this issue together was made easy by the willingness of Jeff Dietrich and Katharine Temple to allow me to reprint their articles and conversation concerning the suitability of Jacques Ellul’s theology for the Catholic Worker movement and its impact upon that movement. These essays first appeared in the Catholic Agitator and the Catholic Worker which they respectively edit Following their essays, Gene Davenport explores the parallels between Thomas Merton and Jacques Ellul on Technique. The impact of these various essays, I hope, is to show that although Ellul is not a Catholic theologian he has nfiuenced Catholic thought This influence is not so much upon the Catholic theological mainstream as it is on the radical anarchistic strand of Catholic thought represented by both the Catholic Worker movement and by Thomas Merton.

In this issue you will also discover reviews of two of Ellul’s books recently published by Eerdmans: The Technological Bluff and Reason for Being: A Meditation on Ecclesiastes. Although we previously published a review by Gabriel Vahanian of the French edition of Hie Technologfad Bluff we thought it appropriate to review it again now that an English translation is available. The book on Ecclesiastes, however, has not been reviewed here before. You will also find reviews of books by, Jeffrey Stout and Gene Davenport. I think you will find them all worth your attention.

The next issue (January 1991) will be devoted to Ellul and the Mass Media under the guest editorship of Clifford Christians. Also, it is important to note the death of Lewis Mumford this past year. He and Jacques Ellul are the two great pioneers of the social and historical study of technology. A future issue will be devoted to Mumford’s work. Finally, I announce with sadness the news of the passing of the Mme Yvette Ellul, the wife of Jacques ElluL Our thoughts and prayers are with Jacque Ellul in his time of loss.

DarrellJ. Fasching, Editor

In Memory of Mme Yvette Ellul

by Joyce Hanks

Jacques Ellul’s wife of 54 years, Yvette Ellul (n6e Lensvelt), died on April 16,1991, of cancer of the pancreas, after a three month illness. She will be remembered not only as Ellul’s constant companion, driver, helpmeet, and critic, but as someone who contributed on her own to scholarly reflection. She wrote, for example, a wide-ranging series of articles for the Journal Foi et Vie which was edited by her husband for many years. The series, entitled "Chronique des livres oubliSs," (Cronicle of forgotten books), analyzed works by Simone Schwarz-Bart, Henry James, and Cheikh Hamidou Kane, among others.

Married in 1937, the Elluls had four children, three of whom survive their mother: Jean, Yves, and Dominique (a daughter). Their second son, Simon, died in 1947 at the age of six.

Mme Ellul’s hospitality was legendary: she welcomed many Ellul scholars with great quantities of tea time goodies and impressive meals, in addition to lively, thoughtful conversation. Few outsiders probably suspected the extent of Mme Ellul's generous hospitality which included dinner evety night for the foreign-bom wife of a student of Ellul’s, during the years the student served in the French forces of World War n.

Jacques Ellul’s frequent spontaneous tributes to his wife can perhaps best be summed up in his response to from Daniel Clendenin (in his 1987 interview with him). He was asked what he considered most important to him as he looked back over the years. Ellul responded that his leadership and creation of the French Reformed parish in Pessac (where the Elluls have lived for decades outside Bordeaux) "gave me the most joy because I did it with my wife."

Book Reviews

The Technological Bluff, by Jacques Ellul

Translated by G. Bromiley. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990, 418 pp.

Reviewed by Nicola Hoggard Creegan

The Technological Bluff is a big dense book, a metadiscourse on the discourse of bluff, by a man who thought he had written his last words in The Reason for Being. No one will be surprised that Ellul argues that technique is autonomous, fragile, unpredictable, costly, wasteful, often useless, ugly, ambivalent and ambiguous. But developments in the last ten years have convinced him of the need to write another book about technology. The level of technique now reached-computers, lasers, genetic engineering and space research--together with the discourse on technique, which lauds its positive aspects and ignores the negative, has driven us into an all pervasive technical lifeworld. But this world is a bluff; we do not see the seriousness of our situation, and in feet we are persuaded to think it quite otherwise than it is. This bluff is a "terrorism," in the sense of "molding the unconscious with no possibility of resistance."

Ellul sets out to expose the fragility of technique and of the bluff surrounding it He is not against technique; he is not for it. But in this book he postulates that with the increasing sophistication of technique there are escalating problems, these problems are inseparable from the positive gains, and the hazards are inherently unpredictable. The stakes are infinite and the potential losses absolute. Technique, then, reveals itself as more inherently problematic than ever, even without the lack of critical reflection and bluff which render it deadly; if technique were subservient to moral reasoning and higher values, Ellul hints, we might have decided that some techniques were not worth the risks. In this regard, and lest we get lost in this meta-level discourse, Ellul reminds us more than once that the common car kills a thousand people a month in France. It is, he says, "the great symbol of diversion and the associated emptying out of reality and truth."

What is this bluff? Ellul describes it as "the rearranging of everything in terms of technical progress." It is "a demonstration of the prodigious power, diversity, success, universal application, and impeccability of techniques." Technique, he explains, is seen a priori as the way to progress, and the answer to all collective and individual problems-including those it causes. Positive aspects are magnified, and negative ones concealed. By bluff we come to live in a world of "diversion and illusion."

This bluff is based upon a changed ideology of science-a soteri-ology of science, on a changed rationality-as justification for power, and on the suppression of moral judgments. Politicians and technicians are among those who consciously lead the adaptation to technique and are hence the main instigators of bluff. Unwitting, spontaneous bluffers include intellectuals, driven by their fascination with technique, and their unwillingness to appear out of date. This bluff creates and is created by a world in which knowledge is power, a world of experts and technocrats, of cooperation between universities and big isolated centers of technical research-the technopolis.

Why is the bluff able to work? It is all encompassing, Ellul suggests. Moreover, the positive aspects are easy to articulate and see while the negative aspects are always "vague phenomena, which are significant only by their bulk and their general nature...but [which] eventually give a certain negative style to human life." Time and space are distorted, and access to nature is limited. "People are being plunged into an artificial world which will cause them to lose their sense of reality and to abandon their search for truth." But the bluff obscures that which is lost. Furthermore, the discourse on technique claims most in exactly those areas in which it is failing; there is talk of technical culture, human mastery of technique, technique is said to be rational and human. This is a bluff, argues Ellul. Technical culture is not possible, people live in networks rather than communities, the basis for rationality has changed, and with the advent of the computer, technique has "definitively escaped from control by human will." Moreover, it marginalizes huge numbers of people, causing unemployment, and social instability.

This leads us, Ellul claims, into a world of absurdity. Technique and its attendant discourse have brought us close to the scenario of the philosophers of the absurd. There is economic absurdity, for example, in Western economies which rely upon the manufacture and consumption of useless gadgets while Third World economies are unable to meet basic needs. There is absurdity in the ability of scientists to manipulate genetic material while being unable to know what kind of genetic model they would desire. There is absurdity in the lack of existential freedom and psychological impotence effected by the escalating diversity of choices technique appears to offer.

Here, as with other Ellulian denouncements of modernity, one reads and wishes to say it is hyperbolic. After all, here I am writing this review, reading the book, in the time saved by technique. I am using a word processor, for a computer-dependent Forum. But yes, I hear Ellul reminding me that I am not counting or even seeing the global and personal costs. And although one might feel some resistance, one is relieved, also, that so much of the burden of modem reality is explained by his analysis. On the one hand, like his mentor, Kierkegaard, he draws us into dialogue with ourselves and our culture, to recognition and affirmation. On the other hand one feels the caution one must feel faced with a deluge of facts about things that go wrong, and brought to synthesis by a powerful mind. My intuitions affirm his stance, but my caution reminds me that though his arguments are compelling, the facts upon which they are based were selected and others rejected. Is this a valid and prophetic picture of our life in modernity? If a prophet’s validity is to be found in predictive power Ellul has already shown his credentials; and in light of the recent war, we should note well that one of the warnings in this volume is that "the conflicts which divide multinational concerns, supranational movements,...and nations are now extremely violent, a violence both expressed and enhanced by the multiplicity of techniques, and yet..on the other hand the violence of the confrontations masks the nullity of the stakes."

This is not a theological work, but it is in a dialectical relationship with his theological work. The burden of Ellul’s analysis should be understood in the light of his underlying belief that all systems and worldly powers are deceptively bent on destruction. The exposing of the weakness of technique and the false reality in which we live must be juxtaposed to his affirmation of Word as truth, the answer only barely hinted at here, when he affirms that the spiritual and the scientific must listen to each other and that science must remember that "ultimate reality cannot be grasped."

But when he has pushed us to despair at the lifeworld in which we live and with which we inevitably cooperate what are we to do?

Television is a god in this society, he claims. Ellul watches television for the purposes of understanding the world he critiques.

We are left to ponder how we might raise children who as yet have no critical skills in an audio visual world. Ellul always resists answers, always resists systems, and this of course is both frustrating and gratifying. In this book he responds only with the hope that in spite of our being "radically determined" the internal contradictions of the bluff will cause its disintegration. He dares to hope that this will cost as little as possible, and that as individuals we must recognize the "little cracks of freedom" and "install in them a trembling freedom."

I have always been intrigued by Ellul’s Kierkegaardian emphasis upon the individual as the answer to collective necessity and evil. After all, only the individual has the freedom capable of opposing the necessity of systems and institutions bound by technique and bluff. But are there not also corporate dimensions to Word, grace and freedom? Ellul offers solutions only as brief sketchy afterword; he wants us to think them out for ourselves. But we might wish that these last paragraphs were longer, if not another boot

Reason for Being: A Meditation on Ecclesiastes by Jacques Ellul

Translated by Joyce Main Hanks. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990, 306pp.

Reviewed by Daniel Clendenin

A commentary on a biblical text that warns against the writing of books?! Ellul, of course, delights in this paradox, and those familiar with him and the content of Ecclesiastes will find it no surprise that Ellul declares Ecclesiastes his favorite portion of Scripture. He begins with his regular dose of modesty, that he is utterly unqualified as a scholar to write the book except for having read and prayed over the text for fifty years, and by explaining his scholarly method that proceeds in the opposite direction of virtually all other scholarly work. Ellul carefully refrained from reading anything at all about his subject as he completed his manuscript. After completing it, he read everything he could find. Predictably, "in the end, my reading of dozens of commentaries gave me no reason to change a single line of what I had said" (3). More seriously, Ellul sees the present work as the "final word" to his life work (even though he has written four books since this one), much as he sees Presence of the Kingdom as his prolegomena.

Ellul begins introductory critical matters by rejecting what he senses are three erroneous presuppositions in the study of Ecclesiastes: the necessity of formal linear logic that insists on the law of non-contradiction (paradox and dialectic are key for Ellul), a naive and superficial reading of the text that fails to get to its deeper meaning (for Ellul, the text says more than is written; cf. 284), and the opinion that the text is not Hebraic but rather a reflection of another culture or cultures. Just who is Qohelet? Ellul surveys the options, opts for pseudonymity, and throughout the book simply retains the Hebrew transliteration. After a few other text-critical discussions, Ellul looks at the entire text according to three primary themes, each of which forms a single long chapter, themes of vanity (49-127), wisdom (128-212), and God (213-303).

In Qohelet Ellul discovers the "dissenter par excellence" (30), and he revels in finding in the Biblical text themes of vanity that correspond to what he has elsewhere called commonplaces of society, illusory myths by which we live. For example, Qohelet declares that "progress does not exist" (60), exploding the ideological optimism of Marx, de Chardin, our technicians, scientists, et al. But this is hardly cause for fatalism, pessimism, withdrawal, or inactivity (68); quite the contrary, for among his declarations of vanity Qohelet denounces vanity itself (1:2). What about political power (75f)? It is "vanity, oppression, and foolishness" (84). Money, work, happiness, morality, and human answers all receive like treatment, with the dialectical yes-no spoken to each.

Wisdom is the next prism through which Ellul views the text, and it too, being both praised and damned by Qohelet, results in dialectical vision. It encompasses both knowledge (134-138) and usefulness (138-141). It is at once fragile and impossible. As a uniquely Hebraic revelation, says Ellul, Qohelet’s meditation is primarily an attack on Greek philosophy and wisdom; it is an "antiphilosopy" (150,295). Above all, genuine wisdom demands that we recognize our finiteness, especially that finitude that shows itself in our relation to the future (160-171) and to death (171-185). Ellul goes on to apply these two "pillars of wisdom" to three test cases-the word, possessions, and women and the couple.

In Chapter IV Ellul orients his thoughts about Ecclesiastes around the theme of God, beginning with observations about Qohelet’s peculiar use of the word elohim. Again, traditional Ellul themes emerge here-a strong polemic against all attempts at religion, metaphysics, ontology, or apologetics; God as Wholly Other; the impossibility of moralizing; the possibility of genuine choice when history is fluid, and the practical determinism or necessity that locks us in if we fail to detect these moments; God as the gracious one who gives gifts (of enjoyment, work, etc.) and who judges (but never condemns); and the identification of obedience with freedom.

As Ellul’s declared favorite text and final word, and because of the Scriptural themes throughout Ecclesiastes that bear a distinct dialectical flavor that would justify Ellul’s methodology elsewhere (eg: the vanity but necessity of technique), Reason for Being will be a good place to enter the Ellulian labyrinth. Those already familiar with him will not find much new here, but rather the same steady convictions that have guided his life and thought, now reaffirmed from the vantage point of Ellul’s lifetime of study, prayer, reflection, and incarnated activity.

Into the Darkness: Discipleship in the Sermon on the Mount by Gene L. Davenport

Nashville: Abindgon Press, 1988,302 pp.

Reviewed by Darrell J. Fasching

Into the Darkness is a scriptural commentary in the tradition of Jacques Ellul’s ThePolitics of God and the Politics of Man or The Judgment of Jonah. The challenge of writing in this genre is considerable, for it requires a blending of scriptural exegesis and theological criticism of culture. Therefore Into the Darkness is not simply a scriptural exegesis of the Sermon on the Mount, although the author clearly has an excellent command of the historical-critical exegetical nuances of the text. As a theological critique of contemporary culture it is necessarily episodic and unsystematic since contemporary issues are broached as the sequence of issues raised by the text permits. The weakness of this genre lies precisely in the episodic nature of the critique which at times seems "inefficient." But that weakness may well be its strength - the agenda is not set by the world but by the Gospel.

Will Campbell provides the foreword, reminding the reader that Gene Davenport’s understanding of the "cost of discipleship" is not purely academic but has deep roots in his early pastoral days. Campbell relates the stoiy of Davenport’s defiance of the complicitous racism of the Klu Klux Klan and the U.S. Secret Service in Alabama in the late fifties. The details of that encounter are spellbinding and should not be skipped over in a rush to the first chapter.

The overarching metaphor of Davenport’s exegesis is suggested by its title. The Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount is "the Light of God, which penetrates the Darkness" of our technological world. "The Sermon on the Mount," we are told, "is instruction in those motives, attitudes, perceptions, and habits which are characteristics of God himself and which are the dynamics by which the universe itself, in the New Age under the sovereign rule of God, operates" (17).

The book is divided into nine parts which follow the structure of the Sermon as presented in Matthew. Davenport immediately confronts the most typical objection to the Sermon on the Mount - that of those ethical realists who remind us that the Sermon’s ethic is impossible and impractical in a fallen world. One sees immediately the influence of Ellul upon Davenport as he critiques current realism for its obsession with technical efficiency and efficacy. The technical imperative (Le., If it can be done it must be done), he tells us, has become a moral imperative. "The final step is to press the ethicists into service. Their role is to justify our desire by developing a rationale and an ideology that will show our actions to be the onfy moral and most loving course ‘under the present circumstances.’ Thus it has been with abortion, space exploration, nuclear energy, military weapons, computers, medical developments, ‘advances’ in education, church management, and so on" (26&27). And so under the guise of an ethic of realism darkness is spread as if it were light. In his critique, Davenport is as hard on the church as he is on the world. The institutional church and media evangelists are both called into question for being far too obsessed with numbers and success. They all too typically rely on the techniques of the world for "peddling the Gospel."

Like Ellul, from whom he has learned much, Davenport has a good deal to say to both the theological liberal and the theological conservative. And like Ellul what he has to say will appeal to both and yet offend both as well. For example:

Excessive biblical literalism is as naive an approach as that which speaks of biblical categories as merely symbolic.... If the devil is merely literal, he must be located somewhere, and the opponent is the most logical and convenient place to look. If the devil is merely symbolic, we need not be alert to the danger and possibility that he might pitch his tent in our camp" (35&36).

This is a good book - which is to say that there is something here to offend and provoke almost everyone. If space permitted I would love to quote Davenport’s provocative insights on everything from just war and patriotism to the universality of God’s saving love which embraces both those within and outside the church. Ellul and Davenport are truly kindred spirits. My appreciation, however, does not mean that I agree with all of Davenport’s views. I find both his critique of Gandhi’s non-violent strategies as "spiritual technology" (197) and his views on the alienability of human rights (190) unconvincing. And his distinction between "children of God" and "creatures of God" (106,201) seems odd - and at odds with the genealogy in Luke’s Gospel which suggests that to be a son of Adam is to be a son of God. Nevertheless, I think Davenport’s grasp of the Sermon on the Mount highlights the true "scandal" which the Gospel presents to all realists who seek to explain to Christians why Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount cannot be applied in a fallen world.

One of the most consistent habits of the powers and principalities is to convince us that Death is Life, that violence is justice, that power is benevolence, that war is peace. In such a world, whose who are truly sane are automatically perceived by the world as insane.... Jesus, the only perfectly sane person who has ever lived, was murdered precisely because he bore witness to reality, and this was viewed by the powers and principalities, quite correctly, as a threat to their own authority to deliver the worid over to genuine insanity (43&44).

Let’s face it - the real scandal of the Sermon on the Mount is not that it cannot be applied but that living it requires that one be willing to embrace the way of the cross.

Ethics After Babel by Jeffrey Stout. Beacon Press: Boston, 1988, xiv + 338pp.

Reviewed by David Werther

One of the most obvious features of ethical theory is that the great ethical theorists advocated different accounts of morality. Jeffrey Stout emphasizes this pluralism; "the languages of morals and their discontents" is the subtitle of his book. According to Professor Stout, understanding and evaluating alternative ethical views is difficult because one’s perspective is always colored by one’s own moral language. The ethidst, no more than the scientist, can claim to do her assessment from some neutral and perfectly objective vantage point. What she can do is engage in "immanent criticism" insofar as she is able to grasp aspects of another view.

Such criticism consists of drawing attention to the internal inconsistencies of a view. When adherents of the moral language so criticized come to recognize the inadequacies of their tradition they will want to modify it. In doing so, they may utilize aspects of other moral languages. Stout refers to the process of dropping some aspects of a received moral language and drawing upon different languages to replace those features, thereby solving otherwise intractable problems, as "bricolage." Thomistic ethics is cited as a classic case of bricolage.

As Stout sees it, our moral problems cannot be dealt with effectively apart from an understanding of Thomistic ethics, as well as other theologically informed oral theories, for at least two reasons. First, aspects of these views appear in contemporary ethical discourse. We cannot begin to understand our own moral vocabulary if we are not aware of its origins. Second, our liberal tradition can be seen as an attempt to avoid the bloody conflicts that came about because disagreements between religious groups could not be solved peacefully. It may be then that the language of liberalism has resources unavailable in religiously based ethical views for handling the problems posed by pluralism. If this is so, then there is good reason for preferring liberalism to the communitarian ethics of Alasdair MacIntyre and others.

In the final analysis Professor Stout wishes to distance himself from what he takes to be facile dichotomies between liberalism and communitarianism, subjectivity and objectivity, and creation and discovery. He tries to undermine these distinctions through immanent criticism and offers an alternative that is the result of his bricolage. Stout’s internal critiques of work by Kai Nielsen, James Gustafson, Alan Donagan and Alasdair MacIntyre are superb.

Stout’s bricolage seems to be less successful. For example, he sets out to formulate an account of morality that would avoid "the spectre of relativism." To be sure, he does manage to provide us with a view that avoids a number of kinds of relativism. Nevertheless, he opts for a theory in which truth is language dependent,"... truth is a property of interpreted sentences, and interpreted sentences belong to languages, which are human creations" (p. 54). If moral truths are human creations then their truth is contingent upon our existence and linguistic practices. Readers who consider this sort of commitment to contingency, and hence relativism, problematic will not find Stout’s bricolage ultimately acceptable. Even so, I suspect that they will want to wrestle with the arguments in Ethics After Babel for it is the work of a gifted philosopher.

Bulletin Board

David Gill has left his position as President and Professor of Christian Ethics at New College Berkeley and is currently at work on two books as well as speaking and consulting, especially in the area of business ethics. He can be reached at: Box 5358 Berkeley CA 94705 (415) 654-5513. Special thanks to Dave for his recent generous contribution to the Forum.

Special thanks to Dan Clendenin for his work as our Book Review Editor. He has done a terrific job. Changes going on in his life have made it necessary to resign that position. Dan has left William Tyndale College to accept a two year appointment with the International Institute for Christian Studies at Moscow State University. Mail addressed to Dan Clendenin, DCS, Box 13157, Overland Park, Kansas 66212 will be forwarded to him. We look forward to getting special reports from Moscow in the future.

Russell Heddendorf has published a new book: Hidden Threads: Social Thought for Christians (Richardson TX: Probe Books - distrubted by Word, Inc., Dallas, TX), 1990), 228 pp., 14.95 in paperback. In the tradition of Ellul, this book explores the interface between sociology and Christian faith.

Tony Carnes announces the publicaton of a new Journal, Areopagus. Carnes who is the editor, explains that the focus of the journal is the critique of contemporary forms of idolatry. A one year subscription is $10.00. Send tozAreopagus, King’s College, Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., 10510.

Darrell Fasching’s new book Narrative Theology After Auschwitz: FromAlienation to Ethics will be published by Fortress Press during the Winter of 1991-92. The book draws upon the work of Irving Greenberg, Stanley Hauerwas and Jacques Ellul to reconstruct the Augustinian Christian narrative tradition and Luther’s two-kingdom ethic in the light of the history of anti-Semitism and murderous bureaucratic technicism which manifest themselves in the Holocaust.

Book Reviewers are needed. If you are willing to review books for the Forum please send a copy of your Curriculum Vitae and a list of preferred topic areas to Darrell Fasching, c/o the Forum. Also, if you would be interested in being considered for the position of book review editor please indicate this.


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Jacques Ellul and the Catholic Worker of the Next Century: Therefore Choose Life

by Jeff Dietrich

His breathing came in labored, spasmodic gasps. First the chest would heave a great sigh, then the head would snap back upon the pillow with such force that the jaws popped open automatically, sucking air like a greedy baby. Then came the gurgling sounds. Each hungry breath pushed his face deeper into conformity with the clear plastic oxygen mask that gave him the only sustenance he cared about now.

Any fool could see that Isaiah was dying, but when confronted, the doctors insisted that he was doing fine, and why didn’t we all go home and get some sleep. Lots of people had pulled through this. And besides, having eight visitors was against hospital regulations. Their bland professional palliatives stood in marked contrast to our grieving countenances. Isaiah died four hours later.

It is almost impossible for health care professionals to accept the reality of death. In fact, for all the professionals who keep our country running smoothly, the denial of death is essential. As Walter Brueggemann writes in his book The Prophetic Imagination, "The royal consciousness leads people to numbness, especially to numbness about death. It is the task of prophetic ministry to bring people to engage their experiences of suffering to death."

As Catholic Workers we find ourselves engaged with suffering, despair and death on a daily basis. We believe that this is the authentic reality of the culture, but the message of the culture consistently confirms in powerful ways the very opposite. Until we can understand with some clarity that the "truth of the culture" is grounded in the worship of false gods, we are condemned to a schizophrenic existence.

The theology of Jacques Ellul offers us the prophetic clarity of naming with exquisite perfection the idolatries of contemporary culture. As the late William Stringfellow said, "For Ellul, the affirmation of death is the ultimate reality and hence the ground for immediate moral decision. [He recognizes] an idolatry of death in which all humans and societies are caught up."

Ellul believes that the contemporary manifestation of this idolatry of death lies in our worship of the "sacred ensemble” of techniques. "From the moment that techniques, the state or production are facts, we are required to worship them.... This is the very heart of modem religion."

Simply put, technique is the systematic reduction of all human thought, action and organization to the logic and efficiency of the machine. (See Catholic Agitator, June 1990.)

The first duty of the Christian, Ellul says, is "to be aware.... At the present time, all so-called progress consists in developing this technical framework of our civilization. All parties, whether revolutionary or conservative, liberal or socialist, of the right or left, agree to preserve these fundamental phenomena: the primacy of production, the continual growth of the state, the autonomous development of technique."

This situation is monstrous because it amounts to the virtual enslavement of humanity to the principalities and powers-the spiritual force of evil in the world. If we are not "awake and aware," we will enthusiastically cooperate with this demonic power. "If we let ourself drift along the stream of history, without knowing it, we will have chosen the power of suicide, which is at the heart of the world. ... We cannot have many illusions."

To the extent that our actions are founded upon the mythology of the contemporary reality, rather than the word of God, we reinforce this demonic direction. The mythology of progress, revolution and youth are the foundation of all our cultural ideologies. All of the motivating forces of the culture, from advertising copy to political propaganda, to the idealization of humanitarian impulses in medicine, education and public service are founded upon these false mythologies.

We cannot fight the world of power and technique, more and greater power and technique. Our situation is not unlike the Allied forces of World War II fighting the demonic forces of Nazism with the same tactics as Hitler: mass bombings, propaganda and terrorism of civilian populations. They won the physical war, but the demonic spirituality of Hitlerism triumphed in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the subsequent willingness of U.S. foreign policy to transform the entire globe into a nuclear concentration camp.

God does not work through "technical means." Most contemporary Christians, especially Catholics, have an unconscious Chardian-ian theology. Teillard de Chardin was the Jesuit paleontologist who believed that technology was an extension of natural biological evolution, and that as it developed and became more sophisticated, so too would human culture and human consciousness. This process would eventually lead to the encirclement of the entire globe by "noosphere," a cloud of higher consciousness culminating in the second coming of Christ.

But this view of culture and technology is, if not blasphemous, anti-scriptural. Any overview of the Hebrew-Christian Scripture would clarify that, except in rare cases, God only works through human beings. The Holy Spirit does not work through the electoral process, through war, revolution, scientific progress or the space program. Neither does the Holy Spirit work through mass movements, political reform or institutions. The Holy Spirit only works through people.

We cannot use the means of the world to bring in God’s Kingdom of peace and justice. We cannot bring in peace and justice, says Ellul, we can only be peace and justice. The Christian must be "the leaven in the loaf," "the light in the darkness," "the sheep among wolves." In other words, if we want the Kingdom of God to be a reality, then we must use the "means of the Kingdom" to achieve that end. If we "seek first God’s Kingdom and righteousness," then all the other things, like peace, justice, sisterhood and brotherhood "will be added unto us."

Ellul’s theological perspective radically liberates us from having to be successful, from having to respond to the false challenge of either violent revolution or liberal reform with which means the world is constantly seducing us. Now we don’t have to kill all of the capitalists, nor do we have to go to graduate school to get an MSW, nor do we have to become a non-profit corporation and raise millions of dollars or make millions of converts. In short, we don’t have to be effective!

We have been liberated to be the means of God, a channel for the Holy Spirit to act in the world. But this does not mean that we can just be, it means that we must be engaged with the suffering reality of the world, the sinfulness of the world, the injustice of the world. We must be present in the places of darkness, manifesting the Kingdom, opening a channel for the Holy Spirit to come into the world.

This is the essence of the "tension" that Ellul talks about. As Christian realists, we must be engaged with a sinful world, but aware that it is not possible for us to do anything about it. Our situation is not unlike the women who stayed with Jesus at the foot of the cross. Their love was stronger than their illusions, unlike the male disciples who had expected to become regional administrators in the new "Jesus corporation," the women had a more authentic orientation, and thus remained faithful to the end.

We live in a crucified world. We cannot make it uncrucified any more than the women could rescue Jesus from his cross. But, like the women, we will not abandon that suffering reality. The response of the women was to mourn and to grieve, to enter into the darkness of suffering.

We picked up Isaiah’s body at the coroner’s office and brought him to our house. We sat with him throughout the night, watching and praying. In the morning we put him in the old blue van and drove him over to Dolores Mission for the funeral. Finally, we buried him in a plot at the back comer of Sacred Heart Cemetery. We grieved the dying of a friend. We grieved the injustice that only in death could this homeless man finally have a home. We grieved the dying of a culture that numbs itself to the pain of the poor, and blinds itself to the reality of death.

Brueggemann says that "anguish is the door to historical existence, that only those who embrace the reality of death will receive new life." We believe that the denial of death and the subsequent narcissism that causes our insatiable consumption of products and experiences defines the essence of contemporary culture.

As Christopher Lasch says in his book The Culture of Narcissism, "There is a growing despair of the changing society, even of understanding it.... Industrial civilization gives rise to a philosophy of futility, a pervasive fatigue, a disappointment with achievements that finds an outlet in changing the more superficial things.... It addresses itself to the spiritual desolution of modem life, and proposes consumption as a cure."

But we refuse to take the cure. Trivial entertainments, superficial relationships and compulsive shopping are not the cure; they merely address the symptoms of our schizophrenic condition. We seek unitive wholeness and with Brueggemann we recognize "that all satiation is an eating of self to death." We refuse to be numb and narcotized-the prophetic call is to be aware and awake. We will not worship at the altar of the false god of technique. We will not accept the bland palliatives of the technocratic priesthood. When we encounter suffering, we will mourn. We will respond with compassionate engagement. Wholeness comes when we refuse any longer to deny death. Wholeness comes when we respond to the Word of God which calls us out of the bondage of death and oppression of life and liberation. In the words of Deuteronomy: "I set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live."

Jacques Ellul: A Catholic Worker Vision of the Culture

by Katharine Temple

About twenty years ago, in my first flush of enthusiasm at "dis-scovering" the work of Jacques Ellul, someone came up to me and said, "I am surprised you’re taken up with such a depressing thinker. How can you bear to read him, let alone find him helpful?" I was a bit taken aback. Still, it has to be admitted that M. Ellul is not widely read; even when he is respected, he is kept somewhat at arm’s length. There is no such thing as an "Ellul school" emerging and no sweep of Ellul-ism to attract attention. Nor does M. Ellul himself seek to inspire a following of devotees. The net result, as far as I can see, is that his insights have been dismissed far too lightly.

It is always hard to know for sure how you arrive anywhere, but at the outset, I picked up Hie Technological Society because of a desire to know more about what makes our society tick. And also I was feeling rather jaded about the social analyses around me. Although disconcertingly massive, this masterpiece in no way dispirited me. On the contrary, it brought into focus my gut reactions to a whole host of things-trends that made me distinctly uneasy, despite the more popular Western view that ours is the best of all possible worlds, or the even more socially aware sentiment that things are wretched but inevitably going to get better. The very starkness of the book was bracing in that it gave me a toe-hold to articulate what was actually going on around me. Because he was refreshingly accurate, words like "depressing" or "pessimistic" seemed quite beside the point. He helped to unveil the world for me. As George Grant, a Canadian political philosopher, has written:

He [Ellul] does not write of necessity to scare men, but to make them free. I am certainly freer for having read this book.... Keats put perfectly my response to this book. "Then felt I like some watcher of skies/When a new planet swims into his ken." Not to have read this book is to choose to remain socially myopic when somebody offers you free the proper spectacles.

The Technoloffcal Society is not a theological book, so for some time I had no idea that Ellul is also a biblical scholar, and I can’t say that I really cared. While I had not exactly fallen away from faith, I was decidedly wishy-washy and nothing much in the field of theology grabbed me. It was all in abeyance, on the back burner, as I turned to other matters. Almost by chance, I happened upon M. Ellul’s Violence and picked it up because it looked a lot shorter than The Technological Society. It turned out to be the first work of non-fiction that ever kept me up all night.

Although reading Violence was not a "conversion experience," it was an illumination that Christianity could make a unique difference and theology has a cutting edge. It made me want to read the Bible again in a new way and to enter the fray again as a Christian. In thinking about the impact of this book, I am reminded of what M. Ellul has said about Karl Barth’s influence on him. "Barth went beyond the orthodox-liberal controversy." What’s more, this possibility came to me in the same way he found it in Karl Barth.

First I discovered through him a flexible understanding of Scripture. Barth was infinitely less systematic than Calvin, and he was completely existential at a time when this concept did not exist. He put biblical thought in direct contact with actual experience; it wasn’t ann-chair theology.

Over the years it has been Ellul’s ongoing clarity about the world and his loyalty to the Bible, through thick and thin, that have most deeply impressed me. In person, his qualities of sanity, constancy, and attentiveness are very much in evidence, personal traits that also come through in his semi-autobiographical In Season, Out of Season (1982). To this day, it still comes as a mild surprise when some Christians find him too negative for words.

Quite a few people object less to his descriptions than to his refusal to "give the right answer at the back of the book." Since Ellul has never suffered from a failure of nerve or personal aloofness, the most important thing is to understand why he rejects the role of guru.

[W]e learned that the Bible is not a collection of answers God has given to our questions; on the contrary, it is the place where God addresses us, where He asks us the question we have to answer. To hear the word of God is to hear the question which God asks of me, to which I must give a response out of my life and faith. I am made responsible (compelled to give a response). Thus when this all-powerful God speaks, He does not annihilate us, but renders us answerable.

Within this perspective, there’s no game-plan to be imposed. The answers have to be worked out and re-worked again and again, always concretely and provisionally, by the faithful, within the scope of biblical freedom.

As Jean Bose, Barth’s most loyal disciple said, "One can be so much more flexible and open to all things when one has a central theological certainty." Barth also brought me a freedom with regard to the biblical text-the only and unique pillar of the revelation of God, of course, but thanks to which God speaks in a multiple and diverse manner, allowing us to mine the multiple riches from this unique treasure.

His intention is to shake us from our lethargy, to direct Christian attention to a path that is really neither fundamentalist nor liberal nor mystical. He follows a different route and resists the temptation to offer conclusions that might short-circuit our own engagement with the Bible.

In all of this, I think it would be misleading to suggest that Ellul has kept total silence on immediately practical questions or that he has had no influence in this regard. In my case, prolonged exposure to his biblical studies, his persistent questions, his espousal of something other than the status quo, has left its mart

One major difference he’s made in my life comes from his deep attachment to the Hebrew Scriptures. His studies of the early chapters of Genesis, Jonah {The Judgment of Jonah, 1971), and his refections on such neglected books as n Kings {The Politics of God and the Politics of Man, 1972), for instance, are unique in contemporary biblical commentary. By accepting that Hebrew Scripture as being fully the Word of God, Ellul has managed to avoid the teachings of contempt and the damage inflicted by historical criticism. As soon as I tried to pursue this kind of study further, I found myself a bit unsure about where to go next, so I asked him directly for help. He suggested that Christians do well to learn from the great teachers in the Jewish tradition, if our own understanding of Scripture is not going to shrivel up. I took his advice seriously, and now learn Hebrew Bible from the rabbis who have revered it most as the guide for life. From them, I am beginning to get intimations about what he calls the "multiple riches," and so to see new depths to the question, "What is to be done?"

M. Ellul also quite indirectly helped me become open to the Catholic Worker movement, founded in 1933 by the peasantworker-scholar Peter Maurin. It may sound odd to claim that an arch-Protestant pushed me toward a group with arch-Roman Catholic origins, and it is true that the links are not strictly linear. Although both are French, the differences between Ellul and Maurin-differ-ences that go back to the original split between the two traditions over matters such as tradition itself, philosophy, Christendom, agrarianism, the sacraments -seem massive; and yet I am convinced that what binds that two men together is stronger than whatever separates them. Each has turned against the tide to develop critical analyses that move us beyond ideologies and state power; each is rooted in a Christianity that pre-dates confidence in "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"; each has understood the Christian response as one of personalism, self-sacrifice, poverty, the daily works of mercy; each is a Christian intellectual in the true sense.

But Peter Maurin had a co-founder in the Catholic Worker-Dorothy Day. Inspiration took root at their meeting. In one of his "Easy Essays," Peter said, "Man proposes and woman disposes." Whatever else we may think of this aphorism, it aptly describes what happened in their case, for Dorothy always called Peter her mentor.

Peter’s idea of hospices seemed like a simple and logical one to me; hospices such as they had in the Middle Ages are certainly very much needed today. But I like even better his talk about personal responsibility. He quoted St. Jerome, that every house should have a "Christ’s room" for our brother who is in need-.. Peter brought up the idea of the paper the first time I met him and he kept harping on it, day after day. He told me I needed a Catholic background, and he came day after day with books and papers and digests of articles which he either read aloud or left with me to read. It was impossible to be with a person like Peter without sharing his simple faith that the Lord would provide what was necessary to do His work.

She was the ideal student, who absorbed his synthesis and then put the ideas into practice. Throughout her books and columns in The Catholic Worker, she passed along the vision she had received from Peter, by writing about the daily attempts to live it. When a friend gave me a subscription to the paper, my thought was, "Whether she has heard of him or not, this is the kind of thing Ellul is talking about. This is one answer as to what you can do when you get up in the morning.

Born-Again Catholic Workers: A Conversation between Jeff Dietrich and Katherine Temple

A Conversation Between Jeff

Dietrich and Katharine Temple

This conversation ... was conducted by phone in May of this year [1990], Kassie has lived and worked at the New York Catholic Worker for the last 15 years. She is an editor of the Catholic Worker newspaper, and has been an avid Ellul scholar for over 20 years. We are grateful for her advice and encouragement in our efforts to understand and apply Ellul’s thoughts to the Worker movement. For us, Kassie best embodies the highest qualities of Peter Maurin’s worker/scholar tradition.

JEFF DIETRICH: I talked to you a while back, and I told you how excited I was about the reading I have been doing in Jacques Ellul. I feel like a born-again Catholic Worker, if one can say that. I feel that what Jacques Ellul has done is to give us a consistent, contemporary critique of the culture in which we live, which makes what the Catholic Worker does so pertinent. I feel like sometimes people just dismiss us as "saints" or just nice people. Folks say, "Oh, you do such nice work;" "You’re such good people." That’s not why we’re doing it. We want to be prophetic. We want to do it as a prophetic criticism of the culture.

To have someone like Ellul, who gives you this elaborate perspective to work from, I feel liberated by this perspective, which I know some people find rather depressing.

KATHARINE TEMPLE: We have discussed this, and I was thinking as your were talking that I knew some of the writings of Jacques Ellul before I knew much about the Catholic Worker, and I was very taken with his analysis of the society and his other writings about what it means to be Christian in the world in which we live. And as I learned more about the Catholic Worker (this was before I came) it seemed like the philosophy and the theology of the Catholic Worker was the only movement that seemed to resonate with this same kind of understanding.

In some ways, I came to the Catholic Worker via the writings of Jacques Ellul. Our two comings to see the relationship between the Catholic Worker and Jacques Ellul are from different times, but I think the same relationship is there.

JEFF: I feel like as a Catholic Worker movement, we really haven’t updated our analysis of the culture since Peter [Maurin] died. And the way Ellul talks about the technological society, I feel as though Peter Maurin, if he were alive today, would either be saying the same thing or writing "Easy Essays" about Jacques Ellul. What do you think?

KATHARINE: Well, I think that’s very true. I think they come out of the same culture. They were both bom in France. Peter, of course is older, but in terms of the environment for social analysis, they both did come out of the same intellectual and social world.

JEFF: What are some of those similar influences?

KATHARINE: First of all, they both come out of the first part of the twentieth century. There was the impact of the industrial revolution in France and that realm of social thought that began to question if this has brought about the benefits that people were certain it was going to bring about.

The intellectual ferment in France at that time was very strong and very rigorous. Also, although Ellul is a Protestant and Peter Maurin was Roman Catholic, the world of Christian thought in France at that time was minority thinking. Nonetheless, some very strong critiques of what was happening as a result of the industrial revolution from a Christian perspective were very active at that time.

Of course, Peter came out of a peasant background, and I think the evils or the dark side of the industrial revolution seemed to strike him from the very beginning. Whereas, Ellul’s parents were immigrants, and he was brought up on the docks of Bordeaux, and grew up in the urbanized world of France. So he came directly with the workers’ struggles and directly in contact with Karl Marx. Peter came out of an entirely earlier culture.

I think what is needed to be done in terms of a social analysis focusing on the problems of the world would be one which they would share as a requirement for social thought I think Ellul would see Peter Maurin’s thought as focusing directly on industrial society and what it has become and what it has done to people. Ellul, on the other hand, has focused since 1935 on what he calls "the question of technique." His thought is that industrial society has moved to a different phase. The ways and means of the machine age have passed on to a different stage, thus your analysis would be different

JEFF: What I thought was so vaUdating is that in reading Ellul I felt supported in what the CathoUc Worker does in simple living, the green revolution.

Ellul makes this contrast between the "means of God"-that God can only work through human beings, that God veiy rarely works directly in the world, that God most often chooses a human medium through which to work. And that God cannot work through the technical means of the world. That the more our culture becomes enslaved to technical means, the more difficult it is for God to work in the world.

Also there are all those metaphors from the Gospels that are so important to Ellul-to be the leaven in the loaf, to be a Ught unto the world, to be wakeful and watching, the pearl of great price. All of these things are the "Uttle way" of the Catholic Worker.

You often feel overwhelmed by the means of the world. I know I’ve always had a tendency to buy into that perspective of "We’re not being very effective here." So you stick with the CathoUc Worker way - out of a kind of faithful, spiritual perspective.

What Ellul does is give you the abiUty to look critically at what the technical means are and say, "No, you can’t use these to bring about the Kingdom of God." You can’t use mass elections to bring about the Kingdom of God, you can’t use television and radio to bring about the Kingdom. TV evangelists are not doing the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not working through technical means. Each person has to have a conversion of the heart and be open to the word of God, and be ready to be used by the Holy Spirit That’s the only way it works and none of us want to befieve that

KATHARINE: That’s a very clear summary of what Ellul is saying to Christians, and I think it’s a very clear summary, perhaps in a different language, of what Peter and Dorothy would have been saying. That is the caU to all Christians, not just a select few, that we are aU caUed to witness to the way of God, the truth of God, which is different from the powers of the world. But they would both say very specifically that we need to do it in the world in which we live, and know that world. You can’t be a light about (sic)a society that was a hundred years ago and not take into account what is going on now, what it is that is enslaving us now.

Sometimes Peter wouldn’t use that language, but when Peter talked about voluntary poverty, for example, not only is that a very traditional means or root of CathoUc thought, but he was talking to a society that is dominated by money - money is enslaving people. The weight of consumerism is literally kiUing people, and the Christian is called to open that up and liberate people from that force.

And that the means and ends, and this is a theme that both Ellul and Peter have very much in common: Is the means and end? If you want a society that is personalist, communitarian, based on the well-being of the other, you can’t reach that through impersonal, bureaucratic fund-raising means. Dorothy used to say, "AU the way to heaven is heaven," which is another statement of the "little way" or the question of ends and means.

Since the "efficient" means of having spectacular results on a large scale quickly is a dominant mode of this society, it is even more important to be cognizant of the fact that if you are going to have a society where it is easier to be good or have some sort of ceU in the old society, you’re going to have to use different means than those that prevaU around us.

JEFF: And this is exactly why the Catholic Worker espouses an anarchist, non-stateist perspective. But again, there hasn’t been a strong inteUectual groundwork or foundation for an anarchist perspective, and we all get sucked into the cultural ritual of elections and the media surrounding it.

KATHARINE: We’ve certainly had many discussions around here about whether people prefer the word personalist or anarchist, which in one understanding can be seen as the same. But I think the importance of the anarchist critique, and certainly in social theory Ellul gives an anarchist critique of technological society, in distinction to a Marxist critique or a Uberal critique, is that the form of anarchism that the CathoUc Worker would espouse would be a personalist anarchism. It is precisely a critique of stateism-that the increasing power of the state is the source of domination and that in our relationship to the state we need to be cognizant that it isn’t one entity among many, so you can say, weU, we’ll take the advantages from the state that we can and it won’t have any repercussions on how we run our house. Rather, the state is a key point in our analysis of this society to see where the increasingly monolithic power structure is.

JEFF: I was particularly taken with Ellul’s introduction in his book The Political Illusion where he talks about the French Revolution. We tend to think of kings of France as being absolute, total monarchs, the "Sun King" and all that. Before the French Revolution, the king had difficulty creating a standing army, he couldn’t raise enough taxes to support a drive for empire. But after the Revolution, once the king was deposed and all people became part of the state and responsible for the state and to the state, then everybody, of course, served willingly. Then, once so-called democracy was there, people voluntarily enslaved themselves and gave themselves over to a taxation system and a system of law that they would never have done under a monarchy.

When you start looking at it that way, the whole idea of people just giving themselves over completely to the state, you need to have a stronger foundation to this anarchist-personalist perspective. I think that’s what Ellul gives us.

KATHARINE: Yes, at the end of that book, he talks about what is needed, and these are just a few little excerpts from that:

It is important above all, never to permit oneself to ask the state to help us. Indeed we must try to create positions in which we reject and struggle with the state, not in order to modify some element of the regime or force it to make some decision, but much more fundamentally, in order to permit the emergence of social, political, intellectual, artistic bodies, associations, interest groups or economic or Christian groups totally independent of the state. What is needed are groups capable of extreme diversification of the entire society’s fundamental tendencies, capable of escaping the unitary structure, presenting themselves not as negations of the state, which would be absurd, but as something else not under the state’s tutelage.

JEFF: He would say that the United States should not be patting itself on the back and saying we finally succeeded in winning the Cold War, and that the same kind of liberty and freedom that the United States has is just about to prevail throughout the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

KATHARINE: I think Ellul would agree with Peter and Dorothy, particularly Dorothy, who focused on the state and the large bureaucratic institutions. But he would say that the thinking is still too much in terms of the Marxist "mode of production.” The mode of production has changed in the Catholic Worker analysis, even though Dorothy had the insight that we need to better coordinate and describe it in a way that is more exact

For instance, the role of the computer isn’t simply shunned because Peter didn’t like machines, but the computer is something quite different from other machines, and that’s what we should be looking to.

JEFF: It seems to me that Ellul, in The Technological System, is saying that the computer as an information processor created a completely different environment. Previous to the computer, the techniques of the state, education, propaganda and various other techniques were separate and could not be coordinated. But now, they can be smoothly integrated into one smooth-running technical system through the information processing machine.

KATHARINE: Right And we need to analyze that, not moving away from our philosophy of what that is doing to people, how it is creating poverty. This would not say that there is no poverty or that the whole emphasis on the works of mercy would change, but in our analysis of where is the enslavement coming, where is the oppression. What’s worse is that all of these things look good and they look like they’re overcoming the oppression of the industrial era.

JEFF: It looks like they’re liberating people, and people speak of... machines - satellite communications and information processing, as personalized, liberating machines.

KATHARINE: And I think what Ellul would say is that you really need to look at how precisely the poverty in Los Angeles, the poverty in New York, the people who come to our doors-how is this being shaped and formed, what is this doing to people.

JEFF: To me, that is exactly the power of the Catholic Worker--to be there with the poor, particularly the poor of the urban First World, the urban, technical world, to see how their lives have been completely destroyed. AU cultural supports are gone. All traditional culture has been erased. You can see it much more clearly in the poor than you can in the wealthier classes, who are much more able to protect themselves against the disintegration, or at least to hide it.

The wealthy stiU operate on these traditional values and perspectives. But among the poorest of the poor you recognize the decimation of their lives by technology’s destruction of traditional values. You realize the hypocrisy of American politicians, aU politicians, who preach family values with one breath, and preach technological growth with the next, and don’t recognize that the two are incompatible.

KATHARINE: And they don’t recognize that this new formulation of the information society, or the technical society is depersonalizing. You can’t use impersonal means to bring about a more personalist way of being.

Also, you can’t be liberated from the power of money simply by spending more money. Peter said you go into voluntary poverty to end the enslavement to money. I’m not sure if "voluntary poverty" is the phrase that Ellul has used, but he would say if this society is defined, say, by massive consumerism and the prestige of money, that certainly should be questioned. If large-scale bureaucracies are the order of the day, then we need small communities of personalist, non-bureaucratic ways of living our lives together.

JEFF: The whole issue of personalism. It seems when we go out and talk about it or when we write about it in our paper, I feel self-conscious almost because it seems like this quaint kind of perspective of the world, and what we really should be doing is having a massive revolution, or electing Jesse Jackson president or converting the editorial board of the L. A. Times. That this personalist perspective of person-to-person action, doing the works of mercy-that’s a nice thing to do, and if you want to do it, that's fine, but those of us who are really going to make a difference in the world and bring social justice about, or bring in the Kingdom, we’re going to work through these massive means to change the world.

I feel so much that Ellul gives me a way of looking critically at these technological means and saying no, they’re not going to work, that’s not going to bring about the kind of justice that you want. In fact, these technological means are doing exactly the opposite of what you think they’re doing. Fortunatety, or unfortunately, you have to work on this personal level.

KATHARINE: I think of the reasons why we sometimes espouse a philosophy of personalism that seems so quaint is that it can be seen that this world we live in is so overwhelming that we’re going to retreat into a world of ones and twos. I’m going to look after my own personal well-being, I’m going to try to create this atmosphere where my person is affirmed.

But that certainly isn’t what was meant by personalism, certainly not by Dorothy or Peter, in that it is a public response in the world. This isn’t just getting a house and retreating into it because we have to have some other people living with us. But rather, this is a statement that people live together better in small personalist ways than through bureaucratic ways.

Jacques Ellul and Thomas Merton on Technique

by Gene L. Davenport

As anyone who has read much of Jacques Ellul knows, there is a problem with the use of the English term technology to translate both French terms la technique and la technologic. From my very first contact with Ellul’s writing, it has seemed to me unfortunate that English translators have not used technique for la technique, since the definition of technique is essentially a method or procedure by which artistic, scientific, or mechanical processes are carried out. Certainly, it still would be necessary to explain the specific twists that Ellul gives the term, but that would not be nearly as problematic as overcoming the connotation of technology as the use of machines or the application of science. Moreover, Ellul himself has recently emphasized la technology as discourse about la technique (The Technological definition that he pointed out several years ago— and also has indicated his own disappointment that English translators have not used technique for their translations. For this essay, therefore, I have chosen to use techtuque, rather than the commonly used technology to refer to what Ellul calls la technique. And now to the subject at hand, a comparison of Ellul and Thomas Merton on technique.

Thomas Merton was a monk in the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance, an order commonly known as the Trappists, in Gethsemani, Kentucky. He entered the order in December, 1941, and for the next twenty-seven years wrote prolifically about a wide range of topics. The areas to which he most frequently turned were monastic life and spirituality, social issues, and Asian approaches to spirituality.

Although I do not recall any references to Merton in Ellul’s writings, in a letter to Marco Pallis, Merton enthusiastically recommended The Technological Society, and in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander he reflected extensively on propaganda in light of Ellul’s writing on the subject

Whereas Ellul has deliberately and consistently (with the possible exception of The Humiliation of the Word) kept his sociological analyses and his theological reflections separate, for Merton social criticism was an exercise in theological criticism. On the other hand, to assume that Ellul’s social criticism is completely independent of his theological perspective would be to assume a dualism hardly acceptable from the standpoint of either theology or contemporary psychology.

Despite their differences in religious or theological perspectives, Ellul and Merton are strikingly similar in their perception of technique and of technique’s hold on the world. The basic definition of technique in Ellul’s work was spelled out in The Technologiccd Society and has remained basic for all his succeeding writings: "Technique is the totality of methods rationally arrived at and having absolute efficiency (for a given stage of development) in every field of human activity." In his elaboration of this definition Ellul lists the characteristics of techniques as automatism, self-augmentation (self-directing and irreversible in progress), monism (the unity of technique, efficiently ordered by one principle), inclination to linkage with other techniques, necessity, and autonomy (The Technological Society, pp. 79-147).

Merton never defines technology, but his few comments on Ellul indicate that he basically accepted Ellul’s definition.

At the heart of technique for both Ellul and Merton is the drive for an efficiency that has no place for spontaneity or individual initiative. Consequently, the society of technique becomes a concentration camp to which each inmate must become pleasantly adjusted, convinced of the desirability of the way things are.

That Merton’s analysis of contemporary western society was, to some extent at least, stimulated by Ellul’s writing is indicated in a letter from Merton to Father Bernard Haring, a peritus at the Second Vatican Council. Merton tells Haring that in his opinion the preparatory draft on the Church in the Modem World needed to rest on a "deeper realization of the urgent problems posed by technology today," and he suggests that the Council fathers should read Ellul’s Technological Society. Merton goes on to portray technology as a massive complex that reaches every aspect of social life, a complex of which no one really is in control and which "dictates its own solutions irrespective of human needs or even of reason." Technology, Merton says, "has reasons entirely of its own which do not necessarily take into account the needs of man." The human race does not command this complex, says Merton, but serves it. Technology, he fears, is "geared for the systematic destruction of the natural world, quite apart from the question of the ‘bomb’ which, in fact, is only one rather acute symptom of the whole disease (The Hidden Ground of Love, 383).

Merton is describing here, of course, those characteristics of technique to which Ellul refers in terms of automatism, self-augmentation, necessity, and autonomy. Technique becomes its own self-willing, self-driving master. But even if his view was stimulated by Ellul’s writing, Merton did not merely parrot those writings. Rather Merton went on to his own reflections, informed by, but not prisoner to, Ellul’s point of view. This may be seen in Merton’s chilling picture of efficiency in the poem "Chant To Be Used In Processions Around ASite With Furnaces." The speaker in the poem describes the highly efficient way in which gas chambers were prepared for victims and the victims were prepared for the chambers. The speaker boasts of having "purified" and remaining decent through it all; of having improved the chambers, guaranteeing them and providing portholes through which one could look; and of having made soap according to a very precise recipe-though fat was hard to find.

The poem closes with two self-justifying lines:

In my day we worked hard we saw what we did our self-sacrijice was conscientious and complete our work was faultless and detailed

Do not think yourself better because you bum up friends and enemies with long range missiles without ever seeing what you have done.

(Select Poems of Thomas Merton, 118-121)

In this poem Merton portrays both the efficiency of the system and the loss of human identity by the one who carries out the work of the system. The dehumanization of the actor is conveyed in the very way the lines are written-without punctuation of any sort (excepting the period at the end of the last line) and without line arrangements indicating a rhythm. To read the poem as Merton has written it calls for an emotionless, arrhythmic monotone such as one might hear from a computerized synthetic voice.

For both Ellul and Merton an essential tool of the society of technique is propaganda, a tool that is primary in the forced adjustment of the individual to the society. The purpose of propaganda, says Ellul, is not to change opinions, but to change actions or inaction.

In a series of reflections on propaganda in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, Merton discusses propaganda as an "appeal to reason and to action which is in fact essentially iwaftonaZ...(though) not necessarily untrue" (Conjectures, 236). The most effective propaganda, says Merton, is "that which makes use of strictly true facts, but facts which do not mean what the propagandist claims they mean and which, in reality, mean nothing whatever."

In "A Letter to a Southern Churchman" (Faith and Violence, 145-164) Merton takes propaganda in his own direction as he reflects on what he calls pseudo-events. Pseudo-events are facts and situations that either are not especially significant or are given false or misleading significance. These pseudo-events are heaped upon us by newspapers, radio, and television, and they convince us that because we have absorbed them, we understand the world.

Merton associates the clamor of pseudo-events, or manufactured events, with the powers and principalities to which the Apostle Paul refers. Paul’s view of the "elements" and "powers of the air," says Merton, was couched in the language of the cosmology of his day. Today, he says, these powers are to be sought "not in what is remote and mysterious, but in what is...at our elbow all day long-what speaks or sings in our ear, and practically does our thinking for us." The powers today "dominate us in the confusion and ambiguity of the Babel of tongues that we call mass-society."

Merton’s own effort to thwart the lure of pseudo-events was to ignore the "news" until it was stale. He did not pretend that by not keeping up with the news he was free from it, but he refrained from trying to know events in their fresh condition as "news." He got his "news" more through books and magazines. "To ‘fall behind’ in this sense," he wrote, "is to get out of the big cloud of dust that everybody is kicking up, to breathe and to see a little more clearly."

Ellul sounds a similar note when he speaks of persons being deluged with facts they cannot assimilate, getting impressions rather than understanding, and coming to the conclusion that those who know all this have come to certain conclusions that are the right ones. We live, says Ellul, in a labyrinth of information, in which information is abundant, but one doesn’t have a choice. As Merton puts it, propaganda exerts violence over us. By means of apparent truth and apparent reason propaganda induces us to surrender our freedom and self-possession. We like to have others make decisions for us while we assume that we have decided.

Merton began the letter by saying that he had decided no longer to comment on public events. He seems, in his explanation of his decision, to have been resisting any efforts by well-meaning "disciples" to rely upon him in a way that would make him an unwilling source of propaganda. "When one has too many answers," be wrote, "and when one joins in a chorus of others chanting the same slogans, there is, it seems to me, a danger that one is trying to evade the loneliness of conscience that realizes itself to be in an inescapably evil situation." The effect of this chorus of sameness, of course, is the same as that of propaganda.

The result of propaganda in the society of technique, according to both Ellul and Merton, is the loss of identity and, consequently, of freedom. This loss is demanded by the society of technique and is the very purpose of propaganda. "No technique is possible when men are free," writes Ellul (Technological Society, 138). Technique requires predictability and, no less, exactness of prediction. It must reduce us to technical animals. Consequently, technique "eliminates all uninhabited places, leaving no place for the would-be solitary.... It is vain to aspire to live alone when one is obliged to participate in all collective phenomena and to use all the collective’s tools, without which it is impossible to earn a bare subsistence.... He who maintains that he can escape it is either a hypocrite or unconscious" (Technological Society, 139-140).

Merton, who commonly refers to the monastic life as the solitary life, or the life of solitude, does not disagree with Ellul on this pervasiveness of technique. For example, Merton consistently warned that the person who entered the monastery thinking thereby to escape the world completely misunderstood the monastic life. He pointed out that the monastery is a way of living in the world and that the world invades the monastery. The purpose of the monastery is to provide, for those who have the vocation for the monastic life, a place to recover his or her individuality by being drawn closer to God.

In one of his best essays Merton portrays this invasion of the world in a simple, almost charming way. In "Rain and the Rhinoceros" he describes a rainy night at the monastery. He had plodded through the mud up to the small cabin which had become his living quarters in the last years of his life and had cooked some oatmeal on a Coleman stove. "Let me say this," he wrote, "before rain becomes a utility that they can plan and distribute for money. By they* I mean the people who cannot understand that rain is a festival, who do not appreciate its gratuity, who think that what has no price has no value.... At the moment it is still free, and I am in it. I celebrate its gratuity and its meaninglessness" (Raids on the Unspeakable).

Merton reflects on the rhythm of the rain on the roof of the cabin, rhythms not yet controlled by the engineers, he speaks of the difference between his rain and the rain of the city, and he reflects on Thoreau. But then he points out that he doesn’t really see himself as escaping anything. "Technology," he says, "is here, even in the cabin. True, the utility line is not here yet, and so G.E. is not here yet either. (Note: there were utility lines to various parts of the monastery grounds.) When the utilities and G.E. enter my cabin arm in arm it will be nobody’s fault but my own. ladmitiL lam not kidding anybody, even myself. I will suffer their bluff and patronizing complacencies in silence." Then, reflecting back on comments made earlier about the words on the box for his Coleman lantem-Streches days to have morefun-he says, "I will let them think they know what I am doing here. They are convinced I am having fun (Raids...., 13).

For Merton, the solitary, contemplative life not only should draw one closer to God, but should enable one-precisely by being drawn closer to God-to have a clearer picture of the world on whose behalf the solitary one lives out his or her life. Merton undoubtedly would agree with Ellul that one does not escape politics by being non-po-litical and that becoming apolitical is in itself a political decision. Ellul himself has said that the private life must be reinvented (The Political Illusion, 205), and though it is not dear that Ellul would agree that the monastic life is the proper, or realistic, way to reinvent it, for Merton the monastic life offers one of the best, if not the best, opportunities to do so. It enables, Merton would say, precisely the kind of different perspective that Ellul sees as necessary. The automatism of technique requires the complidty of human beings robbed of a different perspective, robbed of all sense of private life and individual identity. For Merton, these are regained in being drawn to God, the life of solitude offers the setting for this to occur.

In Perspectives on Our Age Ellul points out that technique reduces Christianity to the inner life, to spirituality, to the salvation of the soul" (Perspectives, 98), as well as penetrating Christianity in the forms of propaganda, advertising, and Structuralism as a method of biblical study (100-101). The church, therefore, becomes just another tool of technique, just another instrument to bring about human adjustment to the system. Merton was well aware that the monastic life can become victim of this capture by technique if the rule becomes a way of ordering life from without and does not lead to inner recovery. As pointed out earlier, he was well aware of the presence of the world within the monastery. He saw both the value of continual reform of the monastic life and the danger that technique could garb itself in the cloak of reform.

Although both Ellul and Merton’s writings deal at length with the problems and dangers of technique, neither wishes to be classified as anti-technique. Ellul is more explicit in the positive dimension of his view, seeing technique as something that God can use and something that God alone can judge. What we can and must do, says Ellul, is subject technique to the Revelation in Jesus Christ, thereby destroying the deified, religious character of technique {Perspectives, 108). We should not expect to defeat technique, he says, but meet its challenge just as human beings have met all other challenges and transcended them.

Successfully meeting the challenge, says Ellul, requires "something transcendent" {Perspectives, 101). We must receive a freedom that comes from outside the system, something not given in technique, and live as bearers of Hope-Hope that comes from outside technique-and bearers of freedom, bringing free play into the midst of every situation. Being bearers of freedom, however, also is possible only when we have received freedom from outside the system of tedinique. What is required is mutants, persons who can use techniques and not be used by those techniques. We need people who are in but against technique-which, Ellul admits, is a delicate balance. Ellul does not mean that only Christians can overcome technique, though he does think that the Christian Reve-lation-not to be confused with the church-is the unique event in which God’s reconciliation of the world-and consequently of tech-nique-is accomplished.

Merton sees, as one might expect a Roman Catholic to see, the new creation constantly appearing in the simple events of nature and human relationships, bearing indelible witness to the grace of God. Technique is something that attempts to suppress nature (nature not merely in the sense of rocks, trees, and animals, but in the sense of the original integrity of the creation), but over which nature eventually will be triumphant because nature still bears the potentiality for restoration. Ellul, on the other hand, as one might expect from a Protestant in the Reform tradition, says that we must look to a transcendence outside the system to break the hold of the system. Certainly, Merton would not deny the need for the transcendent. The goal of contemplation is union with the transcendent. Moreover, ecumenical discussions of the past few years have raised interesting questions about the traditional categories in which the old Catholic-Protestant debates have previously been carried out. The fact remains that for all their similarities with regard to the character and consequences of technique, the point at which Ellul and Merton probably would have some interesting dialogue is technique in light of Genesis 1-3.

Issue #8 Jan 1992 — Ivan Illich's Theology of Technology

A Forum for Theology in a Technological Civilization

1992 Department of Religious Studies,

January 1992 Issue #8

University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620

In This Issue

Recent and Forthcoming Works

Against Health— An Interview with

Ivan Illich

The Bulletin Board

by Jacques Ellul by David Gill

Posthumous Longevity by Ivan Dlich

The Teddy Bearracks by David B. Schwartz

"Dear Kelly" Memo by Lee Hoinacki

About The Ellul Studies Forum Subscriptions Bibliographic Submissions Book Review Submissions

toward a Post-Clerical Church by Ivan Illich

Reflections on "Health As One’s Own Responsibility” by Lee Hoinacki

Health As One’s Own Responsibility: No Thank You! by Ivan Illich p. 3

Forum: Ivan Illich —Toward a Theology of Technology

From the Editor

In the last issue I announced that the January issue of The Ellul Studies Fourm would be devoted to an analysis of the mass media. Various factors have lead me to postpone that issue until next July. In the meantime Carl Mitcham agreed to be our guest editor for this issue. He has gathered an intriguing collection of essays on Ivan Illich’s critique of technology and its theological implications. Because of the number of essays there will be no book reviews or bibliograpy in this issue. My thanks to Carl for his hard work in bringing this issue to press.

Darrell J. Fasching, Editor

About This Issue

Carl Mitcham, Guest Editor

This issue of the Forum is devoted to recent reflection by Ivan Illich and some of his associates. The work of Illich has been praised by Jacques Ellul. See, e.g., The Technological Bluff (1990 trans.), p. 108: "Ivan Illich was the best if not the first of those to emphasize thresholds...." And Illich likewise has made favorable reference to Ellul. See, for example, Medical Nemesis (1976, p. 102, note), as well as the remark in "Health as One’s Own Responsibility." But more than favorable cross references justify this special issue.

The truth is that for Illich the fundamental challenge of technological civilization is a theological one. This is not, however, generally appreciated.

Bom in Vienna in 1926, Illich grew up in Europe. He studied theology, philosophy, history, and natural science. During the 1950s he worked as a parish priest among Puerto Ricans in Hell’s Kitchen in New York City and served as rector of the Catholic University of Puerto Rico. During the 1960s he founded centers for cross-cultural communication first in Puerto Rico then in Cuernavaca. Since the late 1970s he has divided his time between Mexico, the United States, and Germany. He currently holds an appointment as Professor of Philosophy and of Science, Technology, and Society at Penn State Universify.

Although his first two books The Church, Change and Development (1970) and Celebration of Awareness (1970) are both theological tracts, after that point his work veers off into social criticism that makes little if any explicit reference to the spiritual life. Deschooling Society (1971), Toolsfor Conviviality (1973), Energy andEquity (1974), and Medical Nemesis (1976) are all ostensibly monographs in social criticism.

The second of two subsequent collections of occasional pieces Toward a History of Needs (1978) and Shadow Work (1981) hints again at theological issues, especially in the long article entitled "Research by People," which is in fact a commentary on the work of the 12th century theologian, Hugh of St Victor. The following year the new monograph on Gender (1982) reasserts Illich’s demand for attention to unexplored aspects of economics, while HJ) and the Waters of Forgetfulness (1985) alludes once again to theological dimensions.

Then following ABC: The Alphabetization of the Popular Mind (1988), which once more makes reference to the intellectual tradition of the Victorenes, Illich undertakes an extended study of the Didascalicon of Hugh of St. Victor. This book has already appeared in German and French, and will do so shortly in English as In the Vineyard of the Text (University of Chicago Press, 1992). With this work theological concerns are explicitly if elliptically engaged.

Although not as explicitly as Ellul, there has nevertheless been a tension and an alternation between theological and sociological reflection in Illich’s work. One difference is that with Illich the theological has been much less well attended to and recognized, even among his careful readers. No doubt this may be in part because of the more illusive and allusive character of his theology. In the Catholic, unlike the Protestant tradition, what is more important than the explicit witnessing to faith is hidden friendship and liturgical practice.

The seven pieces included here are all the result of reflection among a close circle of friends. The lead piece is actually translated (by Jutta Mason of Toronto, Canada) from the transcript of a talk in Hannover, Germany, September 1990, and retains something of its occasional flavor. The interview (granted to a German newspaper after the talk in Hannover, and translated by Stephen Lehman, an Illich associate from the Van Peltz Library at the University of Pennsylvania) with commentary by Lee Hoinacki, are attempts to clarify Illich’s provocative critique of what has been called "health fascism."

Hoinacki (bom 1928), has worked with Illich since 1960, and recently finished editing a book-length interview between Illich and CBC radio producer David Caley (Jutta Mason’s husband), which will appear in spring 1992. "The Teddy Bearracks" by David Schwartz, executive director of the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council of Pennsylvania and another friend of Illich, illuminates from a different angle aspects of Illich’s critique of the health establishment. Illich’s letter on "Posthumous Longevity" again offers a critical-theological perspective on advanced medical technology and its impact in our technological civilization.

The final two pieces - a letter by Illich and a commentary on the letter by Hoinacki - both deal directly with the issue of institutionalized (technologized?) priesthood. Together they constitute a critical revisiting of the issues first broached in "The Vanishing Clergyman" (included in Celebration of Awareness over twenty years ago). Illich’s letter was written in response to a surprise visit during the summer of 1990. Hoinacki’s commentary is in the form of a memo response to Joseph Cunneen, editor of Cross Currents magazine, as a result of his decision not to publish Illich’s letter. (It is perhaps worth noting that Schwartz’s "Teddy Bearracks" has also been rejected for publication numerous times, although it has become an oft-referred to story.) That two pieces by Illich take the form of letters to friends is itself not insignificant.

It is hoped that these pieces will help intensify awareness of the special spiritual challenges of "life" in technological civilization, and may serve to foreshadow a more substantive work on these topics by Illich in the near future. The texts have been brought together with the assistance of Hoinacki and the toleration of Illich. Special editorial work to finish things off has been done by Mary Paliotta.

Bulletin Board

About the Ellul Studies Forum

The Ellul Studies Forum was first published in August of 1988. Two issues are produced each year (in January and July). The goal of the Forum is to honor the work of Jacques Ellul both by analyzing and applying his thought to apsects of our technological civilization and by carrying forward his concerns in new directions.

What the Forum is not intended to be is a vehicle for true disciples or Ellul groupies.The whole thrust of Ellul’s work has been to encourage others to think for themselves and invent their own responses to the challenges of a technological civilization. Although we do review and discuss Ellul’s work, it is not our intention to turn his writings into a body of sacred literature to be endlessfy dissected. The appropriate tribute to his work will be to carry forward its spirit and its agenda for the critical analysis of our technical civilization.

Ellul invites us to think new thoughts and enact new deeds. To that end we invite you to submit essays on appropriate topics. If you have suggestions for themes that you would like to see addressed in future issues, they are also welcome.


To Subscribe to the Forum for one year (two issues), send your name and address and a check made out to The Ellul Studies Forum in the amount of $6.00 ($8.00 outside the U.S. The check must be drawn from the foreign branch of a U.S. Bank or be a U.S. Postal Money Order). Back issues are $4.00 each.

Mail to: The Ellul Studies Forum
Department of Religious Studies
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Tampa, FL 33620

Bibliographic Reviews

Readers are invited to contribute to the ongoing annotated bibliographic column on theology and technology. Please send books or articles to be noted, or notes themselves, to:

Carl Mitcham
Science, Technology & Society Program
Pennsylvania State University
133 Willard Building
University Park, PA 16802

Book Reviews

If you woud be willing to be a reviewer of books for the Forum, send your vita and a list of the areas/issues you would be interested in reviewing to our new Book Review Editor:

Nicole Hoggard Creegan
North Carolina Wesleyan College
Rocky Mount, NC 27804.

Forum – Ivan Illich: Toward a Theology of Technology

Health as One's Own Responsibility: No, Thank You!

Ivan lllich

I am convinced that health and responsibility belong to a lost past and - being neither a romantic, a visionary, nor a drop-out - that I must renounce both of them. But only if I succeed in unequivocally articulating this renunciation of health and responsibility can I escape the reproach that I appear here as a mere rhetorical critic.

This presentation forms part of a larger joint project for the "recovery of askesis in higher education." My preparation included a close collaboration with Dirk von Boetticher. We discussed every sentence with a group of young friends. When, in what follows, I say "we," I mean only this group.

We are occupied with a reflection on contemporary certainties and their history - that is, on assumptions which seem so commonplace that they escape critical testing. Over and over we find that the renunciation of these very certainties offers the only possibility remaining for us to take up a critical position regarding that which Jacques Ellul calls la technique. And we want to free ourselves from it, not just run away. For that reason, my reaction to "taking responsibility for one’s own health" is an emphatic "No!"

But there is a risk here. Our "No, thank you!" in response to a suggestion for a new hygienic anatomy can be interpreted and used in five different ways to do exactly the opposite of what we intend:

1. First of all, the "No" can be understood as a call for the necessity of tutelage. Health, so it might be claimed, is too valuable, too sacred to leave to the discretion of lay people. I apodictically reject this arrogant disempowerment. For thirty years I have publicly defended the total decriminalization of self-abuse. And I continue to insist on the complete elimination of all legal statutes which regulate the consumption of drugs, and unconventional and/or irregular healing. Following Paul Goodman, I build my argument on the respect we owe to the dignity of the weakest.

2. Secondly, my fundamental "No" has nothing to do with the presumed scarcity of healing agents. Today, people are dying of hunger, not from a lack of medicine or surgical interventions. And the poorer people are, the more helplessly they become the victims of ever cheaper medicine. For two decades, I have defended the position that the consumption of medicine, just as of liquor, tobacco and lotteries, ought to be subject to taxation as luxuries. Through taxation of dialysis, coronary bypasses, and AZT simple medical procedures such as appendectomies could be financed for everyone.

3. I do not say "No" as a global thinker seeking an unobstructed channel for ecological dictatorship. I can imagine no complex of controls capable of saving us from the flood of poisons, radiations, goods and services which sicken humans and animals more than ever before. There is no way out of this world. I live in a manufactured reality ever further removed from creation. And I know today its significance, what horror threatens each of us.

A few decades ago, I did not yet know this. At that time, it seemed possible that I could sharejesponsibility for the re-making of this manufactured world. Today, I finally know what powerlessness is. "Responsibility" is now an illusion. In such a world, "being healthy" is reduced to a combination of the enjoyment of techniques, protection from the environment, and adaptation to the consequences of techniques - all three of which are, inevitably, privileges. In the Mexican valley that I know, the blue com, under whose planting calendar the village still names its cyclical feasts, was wiped out fifteen years ago. And there is no money for the destructive techniques needed to grow hybrids. There is also no protection against the poisonous clouds blowing over from the agribusiness plantation. But new places of employment are opened up for the pedagogy of health, with sops thrown to barefoot green enthusiasts in the process. Therefore, my "No!" is certainly not a "yes" for a pedagogy of health which entails the management of poisonous systems.

4. And I particularly do not say my "No!" to a new ethics of responsibility for health because I see in modem sickness and dying occasions for finding oneself. The suggestion that we ought to accept the unavoidable epidemics of the post-industrial age as a higher kind of health is an impudence currently fashionable among pedagogues. But such instruction in suffering and dying is shameful. Care through bereavement counselling, education for dying, and the making of health plans aims directly at the destruction of the traditional art of suffering and dying, practices developed over hundreds of years.

What sickens us today is something altogether new. What determines the epoch since Kristallnacht is the growing matter-of-fact acceptance of a bottomless evil which Hitler and Stalin did not reach, but which today is the theme for elevated discussions on the atom, the gene, poison, health and growth. These are evils and crimes which render us speechless. Unlike death, pestilence and devils, these evils are without meaning. They belong to a non-human order. They force us into impotence, helplessness, powerlessness, ahimsa. We can suffer such evil, we can be broken by it, but we cannot make sense of it; we cannot direct it. Only he who finds his joy in friends can bear up under it. Our "No!" is thus a universe apart from every "Yes!" to the secondary accompaniments of progress.

5. And, finally, it would be either stupid or malevolent to label the "No" ofwhich I speak as cynical indifference. Quite the contrary! In the forefront of our thoughts stand the many - innumerable people - for whom four decades of development destroyed the cultural, technical, and architectural space in which the inherited arts of suffering and dying were formerly nurtured. Today, the vast majority is poor, and becomes poorer. When we say "No!" to implanting health at home or abroad, we first of all speak about something which for me is unthinkable: four billions in new wretchedness. Only if we ourselves start with "No, thank you!" can we attempt to be there with them.

The ground of our ethical "no," therefore, does not place us in the service of any of these five: professional paternalism, the ideology of scarcity, systems thinking, liberation psychology, or the new "commonsense" which asserts that in the fourth world no grass has grown over the consequences of development But it grows, that grass; it is called self-limitation. And self-limitation stands in opposition to the currently fashionable self-help, self-management or even responsibility for oneself - all three of which produce an interiorization of global systems into the self, in the manner of a categorical imperative. Renunciation of health seems to us to be a starting point for conduct ethically, aesthetically, and eudaemonically fitting today. And I refuse to define self-limitation as responsibility for myself. With Orwell, I would rather speak of decency.

The concept of health in European modernity represents a break with the Galenic-Hippocratic tradition familiar to the historian. For Greek philosophers, "healthy” was a concept for harmonious mingling, balanced order, a rational interplay of the basic elements. People were healthy who integrated themselves into the harmony and totality of their world according to the time and place they lived. For Plato, health was a somatic virtue, and spiritual health, too, a virtue. In "healthy human understanding," the German language - despite critiques by Kant, Hamann, Hegel and Nietzsche - preserved something of this cosmotropic qualification.

But since the 17th century, the attempt to master nature displaced the ideal of the health of a people, who by this time were no longer a microcosm. This inversion gives the a-cosmic health created in this way the appearance of being engineerable. Under this hypothesis of engineerability, "health as possession" has gained acceptance since the last quarter of the 18th century. In the course of the 19th century, it became commonplace to speak of "my body" and "my health."

In the American Declaration of Independence, the right to happiness was affirmed. Hie right to health materialized in a parallel way. In the same way as happiness, modern-day health is the fruit of possessive individualism. There could have been no more brutal and, at the same time, more convincing way to legitimize a society based on self-serving greed. In a similarly parallel way, the concept of the responsibility of the individual gained acceptance in formally democratic societies. Responsibility then took on the semblance of ethical power over ever more distant regions of society and ever more specialized services for delivering "happiness."

In the 19th and early 20th century, then, health and responsibility were still believable ideals. Today they are elements of a lost past to which there is no return. Health and responsibility are normative concepts which no longer give any direction. When I try to structure my life according to such irrecoverable ideals, they become harmful I make myself sick. In order to live decently today, I must decisive^ renounce health and responsibility. Renounce, I say, not ignore I do not use the word to denote indifference. I must accept powerlessness, mourn that which is gone, renounce the irrecoverable. I must bear the powerlessness which, as Marianne Gronemeyer tends to emphasize, can perhaps rob me of my awareness, my senses.

I firmly believe in the possibility of renunciation. And this is not calculation. Renunciation signifies and demands more than sorrow over the irrecoverable. It can free one from powerlessness, and has nothing to do with resignation, impotence, or even repression. But renunciation is not a familiar concept today. We no longer have a wordforcourageous, disciplined, and self-critical renunciation accomplished within a community but that is what lam talking about. I will call it askesis. I would have preferred another word, for askesis today brings to mind Flaubert and Saint Antony in the desert turning away from wine, women and fragrance. But the renunciation of which I speak has very little to do with this.

The epoch in which we live is abstract and disembodied. The certainties on which it rests are largely sense-less. And their worldwide acceptance gives them a semblance of independence from history and culture. What I want to call epistemological askesis opens the path toward renouncing those axiomatic certainties on which the contemporary worldview rests. I speak of convivial and critically practiced disciplines. The so-called values of health and responsibility belong to these certainties. Examined in depth, one sees them as deeply sickening, disorienting phenomena. That is why I regard a call to take responsibility for my health as senseless, deceptive, indecent - and, in a very particular way, blasphemous.

It is senseless today to speak of health. Health and responsibility have been made largely impossible from a technical point of view. This was not clear to me when I wrote Medical Nemesis, and perhaps was not yet the case at that time. In hindsight, it was a mistake to understand health as the quality of "survival,” and as the "intensity of coping behavior." Adaptation to the misanthropic genetic, climatic, chemical and cultural consequences of growth is now described as health. Neither the Galenic-Hippocratic representations of a humoral balance, nor the Enlightenment utopia of a right to "health and happiness," nor any Vedic or Chinese concepts of wellbeing, have anything to do with survival in a technical system.

”Health" as function, process, mode of communication, and health as an orienting behavior that requires management - these belong with the post-industrial conjuring formulas which suggestively connote but denote nothing that can be grasped. And as soon as health is addressed, it has already turned into a sense-destroying pathogen, a member of a word family which Uwe Poerksen calls plastic words, word husks which one can wave around, making oneself important, but which can say or do nothing.

A political deception. The situation is similar with responsibility, although to demonstrate this is much more difficult. In a world which worships an ontology of systems, ethical responsibility is reduced to a legitimizing formality. The poisoning of the world, to which I contribute with my flight from New York to Frankfurt, is not the result of an irresponsible decision, but rather of my presence in an unjustifiable web of interconnections. It would be politically naive, after health and responsibility have been made technically impossible, to somehow resurrect them through inclusion into a personal project; some kind of resistance is demanded.

Instead of brutal self-enforcement maxims, the new health requires the smooth integration of my immune system into a socioeconomic world system. Being asked to take responsibility is, when seen more clearly, a demand for the destruction of meaning and self. And this proposed self-assignment to a system that cannot be experienced stands in stark contrast to suicide. It demands self-extinction in a world hostile to death. Precisely because I also seek tolerance for suicide in a society which has become a-mortal, I must publicly expose the idealization of "healthy" self-integration. People cannot feel healthy; they can only enjoy their own functioning in the same way as they enjoy the use of their computer.

To demand that our children feel well in the world which we leave them is an insult to their dignity. Then to impose on them responsibility for th;, insult is a base act

Indecent demand In many respects, the biological, demographic, and medical research focused on health during the last decade has shown that medical achievements only contributed in an insignificant way to the medically defined level of health in the population. Moreover, studies have found that even preventative medicine is of secondary importance in this respect. Further, we now see that a majority of these medical achievements are deceptive misnomers, actually doing nothing more than prolonging the suffering of madmen, cripples, old fools and monsters. Therefore, I find it reprehensible that the self-appointed health experts now emerge as caring monitors who, with their slogans, put the responsibility of suffering onto the sick themselves. In the last fifteen years, propaganda in favor of hypochondria has certainly led to a reduction in smoking and butter consumption among the rich, and to an increase in their jogging. It has also led to the fact that the U.S. now exports more tobacco, butter, and jogging shoes.

But throughout the world, propaganda for medically defined health coincided with an increase in misery for the majority of people. This is how one can summarize the argument of Banerji. He demonstrates how the importation of western thought undermined hygienic customs and solidified advancement of elites in India. Twenty years ago, Hakin Mohammed Said, the leader of the Pakistan Unani, spoke about medical sickening through the importation of a western concept of health. What concerned him was the corruption of the praxis of traditional Galenic physicians, not by western pharmacopeia so much as by a western concept of health which sees death as the enemy. This hostility to death (sic!) - which is to be internalized along with personal responsibility for health - is why I regard the slogan of health as indecent

Life as blasphemy. The art of the historian consists in the interpretation of traces and texts of those long dead. In the course of my life as a medieval historian, there has been a fundamental change in this task. Before a recent radical transformation - roughly, in actio aw&passio - it was possible for the exegete to relate substantives and verbs to things and activities which lie within the circumference of his own sensed experience. After this radical transformation, that capacity was lost. This watershed, separating the historian from his object, becomes particularly clear when the experienced body is the subject of historical writing. Dr. Barbara Duden presents this convincingly in reference to body history in the experience of pregnancy. And I myself am made dizzy. How deeply the ways of speaking and experiencing have been altered in the last two decades!

In a very short time, the representation of the substantive concept "life" has prominently emerged. During the Vietnam War, there was still a body count of the enemy; only the lives of Americans were saved. But soon after it was taken for granted that something called "a life" begins and then ends. Around 1969, the quality of life suddenly became an issue. Immediately, the physician was required to take over responsibility for life. Biomedicine discovered its competence over "life."

Studying the history of well-being, the history of health, it is obvious that with the arrival of life and its quality - which was also called health - the thread which linked what is called health today with health in the past was broken. Health has become a scale on which one measures the fitness for living of an immune system. The conceptual reduction of a person to an immune system corresponds to the deceptive reduction of creation to a global system, Lovelock’s Gaia. And from this perspective, responsibility ends up being understood as the self-steering of an immune system. "Responsibility" is a word that, as a philosophical concept, only appeared in German around 1920. As much as I might like to rescue the word for future use, to be able to use it to characterize my actions and omissions, I cannot do it. And this is true, not primarily because through this slogan for self-regulation of one’s own "quality of life" meaning is extinguished, management transfigured into something beneficial, and politics reduced to feedback - but because God is thus blasphemed.

I ask you to pay careful attention to my form of expression. I am a Christian, but when I speak here about blaspheming God, I want to be understood as a historian and not as a theologian. I can only claim solidity for an argument constructed by a historian. I accepted the invitation to speak in order to contradict the opinion of many I know. I hope I do this respectfully, but I cannot mince words.

I have outlined my thinking. Longing for that which health and responsibility might have been in recently arrived modernity I leave to romantics and drop-outs. I consider it a perversion to use the names of high-sounding illusions which do not fit the world of computer and media for the internalization and embodiment of representations from systems and information theory. Further, I consider the renouncing of these fictions a real possibility. And I call the practice of this renunciation an epistemic askesis. I believe that an art of suffering appropriate to contemporary life can grow out of this askesis.

What is important to the argument is to understand that all the central concepts that I discuss here are of profoundly western origin: health and responsibility, life and askesis... and God. They were put in the world and became powerful through beliefs that took hundreds of years to come into being. Only if one understands the history of health and life in their historical interconnection is there a basis for the passion with which I call for the renunciation of "life." I completely agree with Dirk von Boetticher when he quotes T.S. Eliot:

Where is the Life we have lost in living?

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries

Bring us farther from God and nearer to the Dust

Eliot here inquires about life pertaining to God, about the life of which Christ says in John 11:25 "I am the life."

Aristotle did not know about this. Aristotle knew living beings which were different from all other things because they had "ptyche." He did not know "life." As an appearance in the world, only in the 18th century did life acquire that dominant and exclusive significance which gave it the character of its own answer, not from God, but from the world. Lamarck and Treviranus, who around 1800 founded biology as the "science of life" in a conscious turning away from the classifications of natural history, were quite aware of the fundamental newness of their object This life, which owes its origin and definitions to the world is, however, profoundly influenced by western Christianity, and can only be understood as a perversion of the tradition in which the God become flesh describes himself as life, and calls everyone to this life.

This is mystery. And every person who occupies himself seriously with almost two thousand years of history must admit that not only individual mystics but great cultures between Novgorod and Santiago de Compostella, between Uppsala and Montreal, have honored this mystery. This is simply historical reality, even for a historian who has no concept and no sense of what it means. And just as plain and unquestionable is the derivation of the biological concept of life from the Christian mystery. When seen in this way, the concept of a life which can be reduced to a survival phase of the immune system is not only a caricature, not only an idol, but a blasphemy. And seen in this light, desire for responsibility for the quality of this life is not only stupid or impertinent - it is a sin.

Translated by Jutta Mason, edited by Lee Hoinacki, from a talk in Hannover, Germany, September 14,1990

Against Health: An Interview with Ivan Illich

Question: "Taking Responsibility for Your Health" is the theme of this conference. Isn’t this in accord with your way of thinking?

Illich: I didn’t know what to think, because I hadn’t intended to come here. I told the conference organizers that I have one single response to "taking responsibility for one’s own health": a hearty "No thanks!"

Q: Why?

I: Health and responsibility are concepts from the 18th century. Health in the sense of the health of the people, in the sense of something desirable, begins around 1760,1770, at the same time as the concept of happiness, the happiness that is inscribed by the Americans in the Declaration of Independence. This is a materialization of the right to happiness around which entire professions were formed whose duty is the happiness or the health of the nation. But even if I make fan of this concept which stems from the Enlightenment, it still made some sense at the time of my birth, 64 years ago. I was also able to give it meaning when I wrote the book Medical Nemesis, which begins with the sentence, "The biggest threat to public health is the medical profession." If someone were to say that to me today, I would say, "Well, so what?"

Q: What’s changed?

I: We have been deluged with information about it: ozone hole, greenhouse effect, radiation, chemistry, overuse of antibiotics, the destruction of what one now calls the immune system, genetic impoverishment, urbanization. This is not a concept of health. It is adaptation to noise, adaptation to gluttony, adaptation to the rhythms we are living with - and, above all, adaptation to inner destruction.

Q: Describe this inner destruction.

I: A few days ago I was having dinner in Philadelphia with some friends. A French-Swiss Colleague, Robert, is there. He is speaking to Tracy, wanting to give her a second mug of good apple cider, and she says, "No, my system can’t take that much sugar at once. I could be thrown off balance." This woman, now 27, had been in an elementary school in which she had been confronted in the second grade with pictures of the muscles, the nerves and the endocrine system. She projected them into her own self. She does not only think of herself but she experiences herself as something that is turned on and off, something to be regulated, something totally unreal.

Q: In other words, all the concepts of medicine...

I:... are disembodied...

Q:... and alienate us from ourselves...

I:... because we take them from medicine. And I see in the slogan "Health is your own responsibility" a really malicious pedagogical intention which says to us: look at yourself and experience yourself in the perspective of the system-theories which we preach. Wetellyou that you area temporarily surviving little immune system in the womb of the world system of the goddess Gaia. She is life and you are a life! And we define life — like a snake that consumes its own tail - as the phenomenon that optimizes the chances for its own survival. This excites the Greens who march in the streets and the systems analysts who babble about control of the world and the gentlemen whom I’ve heard at this conference - they all talk the same nonsense that I saw a few days ago in Washington, where thousands of school children marched in the streets and cried, "We are against the greenhouse effect, we don’t want the ozone hole!"

Q: But who wants an ozone hole?

I: The point is we’ve got one! We have no alternative but to say: I renounce health. It’s terrible. I refuse to delude myself with the possibility of an Enlightenment-like concept. I know that no path will lead me back into the Indian yoga or into the Chinese notion of a heaven and earth that correspond to one another and into which I would dissolve. I admit my powerlessness and experience it profoundly. One cannot do this alone - for this, friendship, the old philia, is the basis - it won’t work without it. But renunciation is possible. Renunciation which is self-aware, critical, exercised with discipline and for which there was once a name - asceticism.

Q: That sounds very monastic?

I: Yes, I’d prefer another word. One thinks only of the "No, thank you" to wine, women and song. But that has nothing to do with asceticism as I mean it. It is much more challenging. It is a "No, thank you" to the certainties that our society is built on.

Q: For example?

I: Every era is like a firmament, with its conceptual fixed stars, under whose direction the ideas, but also the material experiences of the era come into existence. These basic concepts I call certainties, I should rather say assumptions which sound so obvious that no one examines them. My friends apd I have made it our responsibility to write the history of the certainties of the modem era, systematically, carefully and scientifically - and one of these certainties is health.

Q: You once said that health is a plastic idea.

I: I adopted this term from my teacher and colleague, the linguist, Prof. Uwe Poerksen of Freiburg. He says that there is a new category of words, which we use ceaselessly. They don’t refer to anything precise, but they carry great significance and seif-importance with them. They are like stones which one throws into a lake, when one can’t see where they end up, but they make big waves all the same. He calls these words plastic words, or amoeba words. I believe that conversation in amoeba words is the reason for our difficulty in getting to the heart of the matter, for example, of my "No-to-health," of my demand for renunciation. It can either be called nonsense, and it is necessarily called that by most people, or it can be seen as vanity: where do you stand, when you pronounce such a renunciation? My point of comparison is historical. For example, in the 19th century "health" meant primarily fewer lice, fleas and mice, larger windows, bandages, access to doctors. Aspirin didn’t exist yet. In the medical practice of a doctor of that time - the historian Barbara Duden examined his notes - the word health hardly appears.

Q: What did people complain about then?

I: They were tired. Something has gone to their head. They hurt themselves. Their heart was broken .... I would go so far as to say that to propagate "Taking responsibility for your health" is politically insolent. It is asking people to look for something that they should know is not attainable.. I am disgusted by experts who can look back 30 or 40 years and know that world health has deteriorated incredibly in the last 20 years and wash their hands of it and beat up on the victims. I angers me that health refers nowadays to me as a system, as "a life." A awy propaganda has been perpetrated by the concept that each of us is "a life."

The concept "a life" is a Christian-Western concept. It is Jesus’ answer to Martha: "Yes, I am the life." For 2000 years Christians have believed that to become one with him is to enter into life. This was the only life one knew. The inventors of biology the word comes into existence around 1801 or 1802 knew full well that they had created something new with their life-on-earth, for which there is now a science, biology. This life is increasingly presented as a system, a delicate immune system, to be treated with care, which should always be property kept in balance. To imagine health as "quality of life" is a further total dehumanization, a radical abstraction and to propagate it seems to me nonsensical, because it is a-sensual, but finally also because, given the Christian connection to this concept, it is even blasphemous.

And "responsibility" in a world in which one cannot even cast a ballot reasonably! In a world in which increasingly that which one earlier called "democratic freedom" has become symbolic conformity. In a world in which you are asked: what kind of birth do you want, c-section, vaginal or maybe even with a surrogate mother? In a world in which you are seemingly given a choice, but in which in reality you only endorse what a given profession has decided to do with you. To trumpet responsibility in such a world instead of saying: People, friends, we are powerless, we must accept our powerlessness to speak of one’s responsibility for one’s health publicly and normatively is profoundly annoying and offensive.

Q: You have sketched a depressing scenario. Do you also see a hope there?

I: Yes. And it is not only strong, it is also often fulfilled. This scenario of which I have spoken, in which we are very isolated if we seek and preserve meaning, is also an occasion for an intensity of friendship which would hardly be imaginable in a world of inherited ties, familiar culture, middle class values, wealth and security. This is my hope. Otherwise I have none.

Translated by Stephen Lehman
from the Berlin newspaper TAZ (23 October 1990)

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Reflections on "Health as One's Own Responsibility"

Lee Hoinacki

In the last several years, Illich has begun to talk and write about askesis in higher education. To understand the sterility and confusion in the West’s institutions of higher learning, one can examine the division of reading which occurred in the 12th century. At that time, monastic reading was split into scholastic and spiritual reading, the former coming to characterize the universities, leading to what today is called "critical thought." Previously, Illich had asked for research into askesis in learning. In "Health," he calls for the convivial practice of askesis. Further, he maintains that to exercise this kind of disciplined "No" today, one needs friends. A striking feature of this piece, then, is the apparent distance between its "positions" and Illich’s previous writings. I shall note other instances of this below.

In earlier writings, he has said that modem certainties - the unexamined axioms on which the West rests - must be questioned and, in various books, tried to show how this can be done. Now, for the first time, he baldly states that the certainties must be renounced, and begins with a denial of health and responsibility. Of course, these are not the only modem certainties for Illich. But this is an appropriate place to start.

The renunciation of these certainties is necessary in order that one might be able critically to confront what Jacques Ellul some years ago called, la technique. This is the first time in his writings on industrial society that Illich explicitly takes up Ellul’s concept. In "Health," la technique is seen as the mode in which contemporary society is organized and managed, or rather controlled, as a system.

In The Technological Society, Ellul attempted to analyze modem society, and concluded that because of the necessary character of la technique, people could not hope to exercise control over their inventions. "Health," taking la technique to mean the set of interlocking and coordinated systems in which society is structured, proposes a similar assessment.

Looking around, Illich finds that people today are in a situation of utter powerlessness. Since this is true, no social or political action is any longer possible... it is too late - assuming that such action would be aimed at genuine change. All social action can only work to reinforce the existing systems. Indeed, the more sensible, more rational, more ethical - the better such action, the worse the result, for the action can only serve to give greater legitimacy to one or several of the systems in place. This will happen because of the character and power of the various contemporary systems.

And this occurs in spite of the fact that modem systems - as a form of order and control - lack legitimation in any traditional rite, image, or custom. They are newly constructed and in a constant process of being up-dated. Hence, reform initiatives - serious or frivolous - distractions, highly developed specializations, are all welcomed warmly. It appears impossible to find any activity which cannot be appropriated by one of our abstract systems.

In the past, human beings acted through ideas, war-making, law-giving, and social movements to change their respective societies. The insights of "Health" reveal that such is no longer possible. But although I find myself in a position of total helplessness, there remains something I can do: Say "No." And Illich clearly states the specific sense in which he must say "No." This is the situation of a person who accepts the possibility of blasphemy. And it is Illich’s position that blasphemy is the characteristic of contemporary society, that is, in its fundamental structure. Our world is built on blasphemy.

Blasphemy is to attribute something to God that does not pertain to the divine goodness, as the denial of that which does so pertain, usually accompanied by an attitude of contempt But that which is most properly constitutive of the modem project - the attempt to conceptualize and manipulate reality as a system - is just such an attribution and denial, colored by a peculiarly modem arrogance. This modem project attributes a systematic character to what is while denying its created nature.

Ultimately, blasphemy is a sin against faith. Through faith, what I see and feel I know to be creation. What I see as real exists only by participation, through faith I know that the world is only contingently. But the world in which I am placed today is an artificial world, "a manufactured reality ever further removed from creation." This construct, issuing from the inventiveness of human experts, denies creation. In a kind of final hubris, they wish to assume responsibility for what was traditionally understood as creation.

Formerly, whether people acted humbly or arrogantly, trustingly or fearfully, all accepted creation as a gift, as the primary gift, the original expression of the divine goodness. But the world viewed as a global system, with the human being seen as an immune system responsible for maintaining order, is to deity this ancient belief.

Aquinas teaches that blasphemy is the most serious sin because it attacks what basically establishes us in the world - through faith we place ourselves in creation. Illich holds that to live in blasphemy is to live in "a bottomless evil," a place where "elevated discussions of the atom, the ge.se, poison, health and growth" take place. Some years ago, when lu was invited to participate in such a discussion, he insisted on "the right to dignified silence/ and stood mute on a street comer in Germany to protest, by his "silent scream," the stationing of American missiles on German soil. His action was a step toward the unequivocal "No" about which he writes in "Health."

For the person of faith in today’s world, the very first question is: How shall I act, vis-S-vis the tystems construct? This is precisely where the denial of faith occurs. Iliich believes that one must begin with "No," with a renunciation - of health. This seems fitting, since health is often viewed as the unquestioned "good" of modernity. And modem medicine is said to produce miracles of healing. But, Illich claims, "the flood of poisons, radiations, goods and services which sicken humans and animals more than ever before" is a more accurate characterization of contemporary reality. Here also he is much more explicit than in his earlier writings.

In a strange irony of history, those things for which men and women in the labor movement fought and died must now be recognized as equivalent to deadly poison and radiation. But this can seem a terribly extreme judgment. How is it to be understood?

Today, the planning, production and delivery of goods and services is accomplished in systemic terms. This means, ultimately, the infliction of a new kind of sickness, something far beyond anything previously seen or imagined in history. The contemporary project is nothing less than to structure society in such a way that no human act is possible.

In the West, we have come to see that a human act is one in which a person, recognizing alternatives, chooses one over another. But this is precisely what cannot be done if one lives in a system. For example, during a recent visit to Germany, I was startled to discover that in places where the public has access almost every door had been fitted with an apparently simple and innocent device: an electronic eye which automatically opens and closes the door. For me it was immediately evident that this is an image which truly illustrates the structure of modem society. One can no longer choose to open the door for someone burdened with packages. One can no longer carefully and quietly close a door, or thoughtlessly - perhaps deliberately - slam it in another’s face. One can no longer thank a stranger for courteously holding the door. In a word, one can no longer practice virtue - the comeliness and joy of living have been removed.

The world of interlocking systems - always being multiplied and perfected - annihilates the moral beauty formerly shining out from lives illumined by the life-long practice of justice, fortitude, temperance and prudence. Such a mode of living no longer appears possible. The world of systems immerses one in "a bottomless evil" because its structure of society is such that it eliminates the setting in which one can love another. In place of opportunities to create beauty and experience jqy, one is locked into the delivery of goods and services. All that which is supposed to establish a high quality of life actually sickens one to death.

Why is it that so few have said so little about these matters? - if the situation is as Ulich claims. One might begin to answer by suggesting that our world is, indeed, as it is described by Alasdair MacIntyre at the beginning oiAfter Virtue. Historically, we may have lost the ability to make moral judgments, to recognize ugliness. Further, Illich’s discussion of reading in the 12th century can help one to see the situation. Prior to the division into two kinds of reading - scholastic and spiritual - one simply entered the book in the act of reading, and the book entered the reader. There occurred a real transformation in one’s being, taking place over a lifetime, and made possible through the discipline of a continual askesis. The various ascetic disciplines, developed over centuries, were designed to enable one to read in this way, namely, to be transformed through the reading with the result that one came to see - in charity. Over and over again in the medieval texts one meets the concept, lumen light. One was not the same person, before and after the act of reading. And the text was one of substance, eminently suited to invite a person to be incorporated into it.

Over the centuries the scholastic mode of reading - in which one could imagine an abstract text independent of both the page and oneself - developed into a kind of lifeless intellectual critique which, in its most extreme form today, finds its ultimate end in the critique, not in the original text, nor in the person of the reader. Contemporary academic specialization distracts one from seeing the world as it is. But contemporary reading vitiates the very act of seeing, that is, seeing as occurred in monastic reading. It is not surprising, then, that the character of our age is recognized, not by academic philosophy, but by those inspired by poetic imagination - persons such as Czeslaw Milosz, Flannery O’Connor, T. S. Eliot, and Mark Rothko. And it seems quite fitting that Illich, sometimes called a philosopher, does not express himself in the logical arguments generally found in philosophical discourse, but finds his own voice in stories and images.

In "Health" there is scant systematic progression of thought; one might have trouble tracing the line of the argument. He proceeds here and elsewhere — in a manner similar to what occurs when one is under the influence of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, here, specifically, the gift of understanding (donum intellectus). Through this gift, one knows through the apprehension of spiritual goods, subtly penetrating their intimate character. With a clarity of vision, one simply sees... what is there, having first sensed some of the outward aspects. According to Aquinas, the gift is opposed to blindness of mind and dullness of sense. These obstacles originate in the distractions resulting from the sensual delights of venereal and food/drink pleasures, respectively. Today, however, I think that additional, powerful, distractions are also at work.

Why, for example, do so few intellectuals - secular or religious seem capable of penetrating the darknesses of our age? I strongly suspect that the luxuria and gula of the middle ages do not nearly exhaust contemporary obstructions to seeing. Traditionally, two areas of experience contributed to the sharpening of one’s intellectual vision: the very precariousness of existence and the various ascetical exercises practiced throughout one’s lifetime in order to purify the external and internal senses. Contemporary religious and secular academics are the most protected and privileged persons in society. They are the ones who most benefit from the securities and perquisites which the various social systems offer. And they seem to be singularly unaware of the need for a moral askesis, that is, the complex of disciplines traditionally designed to affect and transform various aspects of one’s being and faculties or powers with a view toward reaching a clear vision, a pure insight In this sense one can recognize that the goods and services of modernity are a poison, sickening one, making one blind.

Now one can focus Illich’s call for an askesis beginning with a renunciation of the principal illusion, health, that is, survival in a technical system. And such a renunciation can lead one toward the reality of precariousness. The world today is drearily lacking in the sensuality known to the middle ages, but inundated with the abstract fictions of disembodied systems. If one wants to see, it is necessary to free oneself from these systems. Further, faith in these institutionalized guarantees is yet another form of the current blasphemy. In this sense, blasphemy is the source of the darkness in which we stumble.

There is a final point, the most important one in Illich’s call, and here it is clear that he proceeds according to insight or gifted vision, not according to discursive argument. This occurs in the discussion of Life... and... life.

The founders of biology sensed something which they believed could be the subject of their science. They named this "life," a concept available to them in their culture, They did not create their subject ex nihilo. And they had to give their subject meaning from this world, for they wished to found a science, a discipline of this world. But, over the years the subject became more and more abstract, totally removed from soil and slime, indeed, finally removed from creation. Their "life" came to get its meaning only from the internal demands of a system today, of an immune system. And this transformation, from a divine gift to a man-made abstraction, constitutes the principal blasphemy of the age.

The Teddy Bearracks

David B. Schwartz

In a local weekly newspaper in New York State the other day there was a short item under the heading "Daycare News."

On a more helpful note, the Community Hospital is initiating a daycare program for sick children called TEDDY BEARRACKS. Located on the hospital’s pediatric unit, the service charges parents $3 an hour, which includes meals, snacks, beverages, and supervision. The service will be open Monday through Friday from 6-30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and is open to children over two months old whose registration is "on file" before parents need to use the program.. . . There are 16 beds on the pediatric floor and the average daily use is about eight patients. That leaves six to eight spaces open for sick children on a daycare basis. Those spaces may not go very far once flu season hits, but it’s a much needed first step toward addressing the real needs of working parents.

At first thought a program like this didn’t seem like a bad idea. After all, most day-care programs will not accept children who have the flu or some other kind of illness. This obviously poses a real problem for the many two-job and single-parent families who depend upon day care in order to work. But when I thought further about it some more disturbing implications came to mind. Is this really, I began to wonder, likely to be a program that is good for children and families?

Many people have commented on the increased use of day-care services for children in our society due to economic necessity, changes in the role of women, and erosion of traditional family structure. In a situation in which many adults who might once have been care-givers are working, and in which grandma is in a retirement village, child-raising is changing from a familial task to a purchased service. "When I was growing up in North Philadelphia," a woman told me recently, "we kids were just raised by the block. Any adult was likely to give you a swat if you were cutting up. Everything was all just together."

You have to search to find a place where life is like this anymore in this country. In the changes which have taken place, child-raising has become something which has entered the economic sphere. In the economic world, unlike the community world, there are providers of service and purchasers of service. Providers of service in this case are often human service organizations. Human service organizations, unlike communities, operate under the formal rules that govern large systems, i.e., bureaucratic rules.

In Pennsylvania, day-care providers are now required by law to conduct background checks on the people they hire, following scandals over child abuse in some centers. Day-care centers require registration and admission, and must worry about low enrollment if the stafi/child ratio falls below planned economic parameters. In communities you always knew who was with your child because you lived on the same street, or in the same village. You didn’t pre-register a child to go to Mrs. O’Brien’s bouse - you just talked with her. And while there might be economics involved, they were the economics of community; informal, flexible, and outside the formal economic system.

The conversion to child care as a "human service" is visibly underway, through expansion of professional child-raising functions, as the trend moves to completion. Part of the next stage of this conversion can be expected to be the appearance of specialized programs for specific groups. As I thought about all of this I realized after a moment that the hospital’s day-care program for sick children probably had significance as a sign that the larger trend had reached a point in which this was already taking place. Even one’s sick little child would now be given over to an institution for care

From the point of view of the individual parents concerned, the development of such a program is probably seen as a blessing. A single mother, after all, might even lose her job if she had to stay home too often to care for her sick child. But I worry greatly about these little children. And I worry about their families.

What must it be like, I wonder, to be a little boy or girl, even as young as a two-month-old baby, and be bundled, sick and miserable, taken out of your bedroom and through the early morning traffic up to the gleaming new hospital wards? The big white building, anxietyprovoking even to us adults because of its images of sickness and death, its complicated machinery and the bustle of doctorsand nurses and technologists coming and going - what must it seem like to a little sick child? What must it be like to be taken over the gleaming waxed floors, under the endless bright fluorescent lights, to a crisp white unfamiliar bed in a ward? The nurses are nice, but they are not Mommy, or Mrs. Fredricks, or probably anyone you have ever even seen before.

Children will adapt to the necessity of being in the hospital when they have the flu. Children are very adaptable. They have always adapted to difficult and even scary and oppressive circumstances. Thousands and thousands of children have spent most of their childhood in sterile institutions and have, in one way or another, survived. We have learned, however, that this experience inevitably leaves scars.

One can speculate on what the scars might be for such children. What ideas might they begin to get about sickness, and what happens to you when you are sick, and what Mommy and Daddy do when you are sick because they are busy with their work? Might we not speculate that at least some children will gain or expand some haunting insecurities about their acceptance, when ill and troublesome? Might they not even begin to get the idea at an early age that when a person is sick or needs something what you do is take them to a big building somewhere where knowledgeable people in white uniforms know what to do?

In my years in human service and public policy I have become convinced that policy and program developments that are potentially injurious to people and to society are virtually always the result of hard work tty good people who are sincerely trying to meet a pressing need that is before them. Yet while the immediate need always exists, I have begun to conclude that the ways in which such problems are addressed are usually shaped by larger and often unfavorable factors that are frequently unconscious.

We hear, for example, a great deal these days about the financial pressure on hospitals to utilize beds. We learn that this hospital’s pediatric unit of 16 beds has a daily census of eight, a situation that translates in hospital terms into a utilization rate only 50%. A low occupancy rate can cause difficulty for a hospital. Perhaps this was a factor here, perhaps not Perhaps the influence was more subtle only that the empty beds exist No doubt there was a genuine desire to help. Without anyone realizing it, is it just possible that these vacant beds in the hospital ward have "drawn" youngsters into, in their own words (and words signify and reveal a great deal) a "barracks" for sick children - a "Teddy Bearracks?" own words (and words signify and reveal a great deal) a "barracks" for sick children a "Teddy Bearracks?"

Could the creation of such a "sick child" program have been unconsciously driven by a combination of the expanding professionalization of child care and the availability of hospital beds? I don’t know the details of this particular situation, so I can’t say whether this speculation is true. But it makes me wonder.

I know little about programs for children, at least "normal children." My work is concerned with the welfare of people with disabilities. But from the vantage point of my own field, this little program at tne community hospital brings a nagging sense of disquiet. For some years much of the work of my colleagues across the country has consisted in trying to take apart the institutional solutions of our predecessors. Our predecessors were wonderful and honorable people - giants of social conscience and action, in many cases. But as the late Syracuse University dean Burton Blatt pointed out, despite the best of intentions their work for mentally retarded people ultimately led to the loss of everything important for those about whom they cared. We have been trying very hard, my colleagues and I, to learn from their well-meaning but terrible mistake.

I wonder if the most far-reaching result of this little program may not be to further embed the habit of institutionalization in our hearts and in our society. Is not a child likely to learn that institutions, be they hospitals, mental hospitals, reformatories, prisons, or whatever, are the appropriate way to address personal and social problems? What long-term habits may we foster through such seemingly innocent attempts to meet real human needs?

The comparison with my own field brings this question more vividly to my attention. Once we said that children with mental retardation needed to be cared for (permanently, in this case) in large professional facilities, the "state schools." When these became visible failures and our consciences rebelled, we replaced them with smaller "community" facilities like special schools, and workshops, and day-care and treatment centers. Only recently have we realized that even the latter have more in common with big institutions than with true community.

Seymour Sarason, a noted scholar on this subject, commented that even small community centers of this kind paradoxically make the real community’s ability to meet problems weaker, for they transfer both the need and the solution out of the hands of the community itself. For the benefit of meeting a short-term need, society pays the price of giving up a portion of its people. This is why the seemingly innocent creation of training institutions for children with mental retardation in the last century eventually led to the fact that I never really met a person with mental retardation until I was an adult. By that time, communities needed to learn all over again that these people were of their own social body, and didn’t need to be served exclusively by professionals. This is proving difficult to relearn, for they listened too well to us before.

How curious it is, as I observe sick children starting to get day care in a hospital, to see my own field now moving in the opposite direction! Many people with developmental disabilities have very significant needs. We used to think that they all had to come to the same place. Just last month, though, my organization gave out grants to people to initiate what we term in my field "family support" by building upon the strengths of communities themselves. These children have far greater needs than those of a normal child with the flu, yet they can be cared for without leaving their homes or their neighborhoods. The program’s goal is to link up parents and neighbors with each other, to provide petty cash to hire the elderly lady next door, to bring nurses and medical equipment, when needed, right into the child’s home. This is being done now all over the country, and there is evidence that it works wonderfully well.

Paradoxically enough, now that we know that this can be done with really needy children, we discover that minorly ill children, children that we don’t ordinarily worry about, are being taken right into the very hospital beds that we have finally started to get handicapped children out of. It is enough to make you worried.

If I were a parent and my board meeting was today and my child had the measles, and I couldn’t find anyone else to look after her, I don’t know what I’d do. I guess as the clock was approaching nine I’d have to take her to the hospital. I’d kiss her and reassure her, before I walked down the long corridor toward my car, that I loved her very much and that I’d be back. I know that children in hospitals tend to have irrational fears that they will be abandoned, that they in some way have been "bad." I would worry about her picking up an even worse bug there on the hospital ward. I know that hospitals tend to be very good places for getting other diseases; there are so many of them there, all right next to each other. And I would worry, deep in my heart as I rushed off to chair my meeting, that I would have to do this again because there was no other way, because everyone did it, and because I couldn’t figure out anything else to do.

But I hope after this I might get all of the parents in my block, or at the day-care home, together in my living room and try to figure out some better way for us, all together, to care for our children in our own homes. I hope if I were a hospital administrator with empty pediatric beds, I wouldn’t let them even be used at three dollars an hour for day care, even if parents were in need and asked, because I would be afraid of what ultimatefy might happen if we embarked upon this course. And I hope that if I were a government official making policy decisions regarding hospitals, and it was proposed that hospitals be permitted to offer day care of this type, I would work to prevent it. I hope that instead I might be able to find a little grant to help parents who have set up baby-sitting cooperatives meet those who would like to learn how. I hope I could carefully steer money toward local communitybased imaginative solutions that parents dream up themselves.

I am not, in this case, any of these people. So I will just watch the Teddy Bearracks from afar. I think that after a little while it will feel pressure to grow. As the newspaper article noted, eight beds won’t be much in flu season once this new program opens its doors. There are so many parents in need, so many children who Call ill. No, eight, I am afraid, surely won’t be enough, once we get into the habit.

Posthumous Longevity

Epiphany, 1989

Dear Mother Prioress,

When I spoke with you and Lady Abbess after Advent Vespers you urged me to remember my ties to your sisters. I can assure you that I have never forgotten the roots I have on your side of the grill and the strength I draw from your community’s love. And now, prompted by you and Mother Abbess, I invite you all to share a bit in my life. This letter is primarily a plea for prayer for a helpless woman in serious distress, a woman who is my friend. Some of you might also feel moved to accept these lines as an invitation to accompany me to the evil Newland into which she has strayed, and come to agree with me that this region deserves your attention as contemplative nuns.

I am writing as a friend who has known you since before you became a nun more than a quarter century ago. This allows me to write freely and in a personal manner on a very touchy subject. But you will have noticed that I address you as "Prioress." Doing so I am able to speak without worrying about the traps that lie in the domain of privacy and that destroy the traditional style of openness that was characteristic of our ascetical communities. What I write does not call for secretiveness but for utmost discretion.

Let no one among your sisters take scandal at my writing about two real people, myself and a friend. There is something concrete and surprisingly new here on which we —you and the Church—need aiscretio. Discretion, which Benedict called "the mother of virtues," is the measured discernment of unique situations; it makes our obedience the very opposite of regimentation. The reflection which I want to foster demands discretion on the part of the reader, but this does not make it "private." Privacy is a newfangled social construct It depends on possessive individualism which forms divisive opinions. What I want you to share with me is not an opinion, but an almost unbearable anguish at the commemoration of the undead who have slipped out of the reach of our ordinary forms of charity.

I want you to pray for my friend. She was bom early in this century, brought up as a socially self-conscious Protestant, but was not touched tty faith; she has never tasted prayer. Throughout our acquaintance, I admired and suffered her un-godly and grace-less moral beauty. Though these two words may seem offensive in modem English, I use them deliberately, albeit with apprehension. I know of no others which would allow me to note the absence of an evangelical dimension but which, emphatically, imply no evil and tarnish no beauty.

As a young woman, my friend left her own country. She did so in protest against her philistine family, against the sickness of Nazism, and as an alternative to the kitsch in which others of her class and generation tried to salve their conscience. She settled in the forest of Scandinavia. There she lived in obstinate, solitary independence. She earned her living by spinning, weaving, and teaching her skills in a trade school She also shaped haunting, abstract objects, creating them out of the stuff she had woven on her loom. Occasionally, some of her "sculptures" received international recognition. We came to know each other discussing a soft, long, brown woolen cloth that she had drawn into tight knots spaced at irregular intervals and arranged on aluminum spikes in front of a dull mirror.

When my friend felt that the time had come to let herself die, she looked to me. We had just taken a walk through the woods to a little restaurant where she enjoyed being treated to a slice of venison.

Over cranberry sauce, she spoke about her end time. In a couple of months, she would walk down toward the sea, sit under a tree, drink from a bottle of schnapps, and fell asleep in the snow. I knew that she meant what she said. In her rasping matter-of-fect voice, she then asked me to procure something stronger than schnapps to swallow upon reaching the spot near the shore. But I knew that, being who she was, she did not depend on me to get what she wanted. She made the request because she wanted a sign that I had accepted her resolve. After decades of wary independence, she was perhaps ready to acknowledge fear to one friend. She wanted to hold me in her heart when the moment had come to step into the darkness.

On that November day I noticed something special in her - an unaccustomed serenity, but with a sense of its frailty. Without a word from her I understood that now she was ready for the step, and knew that the moment was precious. Scandinavian welfare systems are efficiently care-full and intrusive. For only a short while yet, the "art of dying" was still within her reach. As she spoke, I saw her life-long, self-willed obstinacy slacken and saw too a glimpse of the glowing embers in her heart. Looking back, it now seems that this was the dreaded moment at which the Lord passes tty. I would not want to abandon the ancient maxim, timeo Deum transeuntem.

That year on the same wooded path I spoke with Dorn Helder Camara about the terrain onto which faithful friendship leads the believer if his friend is desgraciado, "graceless." How to let my hope become so transparent at that moment that it does not throw the slightest shadow on the other? Helder said that fidelity means to stand tty, aware of one’s empty hands, and without expectation. We might or might not ever come to see the glow of grace in the other’s heart. I remember his words as much as his wrinkled face, "When your hands are folded, they are ready for that delicado puff, when the right moment has come." He showed me how to do it.

Looking back, I failed my friend. I failed to speak to her about Michael and his hosts ready to pick her up from beneath the birch tree, leaving the body behind in the snow. I failed to respond tty simply respecting her freedom. I did not urge her to listen more carefully to what Moses called "the rustling." I took her question about an opening she was discovering to be one more attempt on her part to remain in control. I now fear that I distracted her from listening to the Lord whose steps she might have followed without knowing whose they were.

Soon after she became ill with pneumonia and locked herself into her home. You probably know that well into the 19th century pneumonia was called "the old man’s friend." But the caring state could not leave her in peace. Its minions picked the apartment lock in time to administer antibiotics. Since then, it has been too late. Welfare and medicine have broken and confused her, made her into an inmate. Now she worries all day whether there will again be a bed for her at night in the clinic where she has been placed. She missed the hour of her death. She let it slip by, and lost an autumnal moment’s desire to let go.

For over sixty years she had forged her own bios. I use the Greek term that is opposed tozoe andpsyc/te because the English word "life" cannot render the strong sense of curriculum vitae that bios expresses. For decades she had left traces on everything she touched, and had then been herself shaped by these traces. Catching her in danger of dying, society has deprived her of her bios, her own life’s shape. Bereft of it, she has lost the ability to disentangle herself. Far removed from what St. Francis called "Lady Poverty," she is embraced by professional wardens. They make certain that she does not take off her cloak.

When she spoke to me at the inn, I had an inkling that she was ready to divest herself of all trappings (nuda nudum sequere Christum was the motto beloved in the 13th century), even if she did not suspect whom she was following. Now she is securely taken care of. The personal act of dying, which in English is expressed by an intransitive verb, is beyond her reach. Now that it is too late for graceful dying, she has become a frightened woman who shirks death. At eighty she has been socialized into the so-called aged. Sooner or later the house physician will write on her chart, "no more - animation." This is the woman I ask you to remember in your evening prayers, when the lights in the chapel go out, somewhere between fratribus absentibus ...et animarum fidelium.

It is, however, not only my friend whom I wish you to commemorate. There are other millions in the Newland into which she has moved. And this switch from her to them, from the friend in distress to the inhabitants of the psychic slums, is not easy. I cannot reflect on her state without being impelled to ask myself, "Could I not have her live with me?" or, "Is there no friend around who could invite her?" As long as she breathes, the "Why can’t I?" will haunt me. But I cannot allow this anguish to distract me from the issue which we must think through. It is not the quality of care under which this one friend survives that is at issue, but the fact that, after confiding in me, she lost what might have been the last moment in which she could have accepted her death.

I hope it is clear that I am not raising the issue of euthanasia (professional assistance in suicide), or the practice of medicide (which, in the terminology I use, implies an ethics committee’s judgment on the termination of life-support systems). I am exploring two aspects of friendship that are characteristic of the late 20th century: first, respect for my friend who judges that the time has come for her to choose between dying now and being turned off later and, second, the mode of spiritual presence about her once that moment of decision has passed.

Further, I want to be able to reflect on this matter without being paralyzed by the issue of suicide. My friend would have been more than satisfied if I had presented her with a bottle of good whisky wrapped in fall-colored leaves. What she asked of me was not poison but a sign of unconditional trust. I can assure you that, at the luncheon, she was not contemplating killing herself. She wanted to die before it would be too late to consent to her own death. She explicitly wanted to avoid recruitment into that borderland where millions now vegetate who are neither here nor there.

All this I do not guess, I know. We first met at a conference in 1975, called by the World Health Organization, where I was to discuss the theses stated in Medical Nemesis, among them the medical expropriation of death. Since then she had thought about the Nowhere of which I speak. She came to understand that, as an aging inhabitant of the First World, you are recruited into this state where you are made impotent in front of death, unless you make a timely decision not to let yourself be kept - alive or dead. These are the neighbors whom I ask you to recognize in your prayers, those whose bios as persons has ended, but who are kept hovering on the brink of eternity as a result of modem techniques.

I do not know which word to choose to refer to this state of suspension and aimlessness, a spiritually debilitating a-topia. One reason for my loss of words is that the thing itself is new, a result of society’s recent success in the war on death. Therefore, I am not speaking of the world of the aged. The old have always been with us. Nor am I speaking of the decrepit. Each traditional society had its own way for them, as for the mad or monsters. One culture extended a place for them, another restricted it.

I am also not speaking of those who, in the language of Hippocrates, have entered the atrium mortis, the antechamber on the way to the shadows. In the Greek-Arabic-European tradition, the physician’s task was the restoration of a unique balance of humors, never the fight against death. He was trained to recognize the Hippocratic signs on the patient’s face, symptoms which manifested to show that the patient’s humors were irremediably out of balance. When his art showed him that he stood at a death bed, the physician had to return his fee and take leave from a room which had ceased to be a sickroom. The Hippocratic oath, which forbids the physician to use his art on those in agony, has been interpreted away.

Nine out of ten Americans who are not killed by car, bullet, or massive stroke become terminal care patients and are placed under the control of physicians before they have a chance to die. I am not speaking here of these last hours of medicide that have replaced the death struggle depicted in hundreds of illustrations of the ars moriendi. The great prayers of the proficiscere anima Christiana and the Litany of All Saints are still appropriate for assistance, even when we must say them in the waiting room out of fear that our presence interfere with the life support systems. I am also not recommending improvements on the terminal education through which KObler-Ross and her pupils would like to normalize dying.

What I am speaking about is something historically unprecedented. I am speaking of those who have missed the opportunity to die when they were still able to do so, and for whom modem technology and organization effectively hold death at bay. I am calling your attention to a new social class. I am speaking of a New Age appended to the three-score and ten, which is as much a novelty now as the teenage years were two generations ago.

Finally, I am not asking - at this moment - what physicians, social workers, or policy makers should do with or to this new kind of people, or what their status ought to be in the law. You do not need me as a guide to the bibliographies on employment, investment, litigation, technology, or research which this new clientele has inspired. After the underdeveloped, the disappearing races, and then women, the disabled have become the pets of bleeding hearts and the wards for new careers. They have become so useful for so many that the viewpoint I propose has become taboo. I report to you, across the grill, something which I see as an epoch-specific evil, from which the grill is meant to protect you.

What I pursue is this: I ask that you make those who are caught up in this new evil the beneficiaries of your contemplative action, that you consider them as brothers and sisters for whom you offer prayers, as Benedictines have done for the poor souls who wait at the gate of Heaven, at least since Cluny was founded. And I ask for your help so that those of us who have not yet been caught by this evil leam to avoid this modem "fate." I myself ask for this grace each time I say the Hail Mary:"... pray for us now and... that we may not miss the hour of our death. Amen."

I just mentioned Cluny. I did so because you are Benedictines and I want to appeal to your family history. Cluny is a symbol for many innovations, among them the relatively recent date at which purgatory was discovered. Only since the 12th century has purgatory been understood as a special place, and the "poor souls" then came to loom large in popular religion, being recognized as the most helpless community within a tripartite Church. For a good millennium, the Church had been praying for the deceased before this distinction became part of belief and iconography, and before the cult of the poor souls found its solemn place within the liturgy. Without getting into theology or the history of ideas, I dare to suggest that there is a similarity here. The Church has always prayed for special people: the sick, those burdened by the power to govern, those specially tempted, travellers, and those in agony - before it discovered the "poor souls." Now, at the end of the 20th century, the time has come to recognize another community that, like the poor souls, is marginalized in a unique way: the captive souls whom science and technology, welfare and biocracy glue to their bodies, preventing their departure. I believe that this Wasting Age engendered by modernity deserves its special memento.

I am aware that I ask you to heed a kind of misery which, on a world-wide scale, is class-specific. It still mostly afflicts the affluent. Most of those unfortunate souls whom I askyou to remember as the companions of my Scandinavian friend are citizens of rich countries. The privilege of escaping death and thereby quite often becoming unable to face it is one of the many doubtful benefits that economic development has brought. Excepting their exploitative elites, Africans, Indians, and Mexicans still lack the economic resources needed to close the door when the Angel of Death approaches. The Nether Region this side of death is still a gilded ghetto. But it will not remain exclusive much longer. Chemists and geneticists are doing their best to lower the entrance fee into this Nowhere, and thereby make its population more democratic.

By praying for my friend and those like her, by praying for enlightenment and courage, you would also advance the Christian exploration in the difficult and obscure moral issue recently created by social and biological engineering - how to relate the fear of God with the fear of being deprived of one’s own death. To do so today requires extraordinary discretio to clarify the meaning of the cupio dissolvi in a society in which social policy mandates professional guardians, be they physicians or bioethidsts, to procure optimal life prolongation as a universal social right.

I deeply appreciate the opportunity to reflect on this issue in the form of a letter to you. Let me know if this is a way in which you can share what it means to live on this side of the grill, as in your prayers t I join you on the other side.


Toward A Post-Clerical Church

Dear Kelly,

When you dropped in on my hideout it was two in the afternoon. Now it is two in the morning. You are on your way back north, for a second semester in a course of aggiomamento for aging missionaries offered at a Canadian Jesuit university. I am still ruminating on the conversation we had. For myself and a couple of friends, "Kelly" already evokes two realities: the thoughtful, generous, and delicate man and priest whom I was surprised to meet, and a contemporary "type" for whom I just cannot think of a more thought-provoking representative, and into which both Lee and I would want to fit.

This is not really a personal letter. It’s a letter to the Kelly whom you have given us for reflection. I write it because I will not sleep peacefully until the format of a letter gives me the framework within which I can say something that has haunted many conversations during the last years. If something in this introduction sounds too personal for a letter I would like to share with others, you and I both know that the Kelly I address is a critter of my imagination.

When you called from downtown, where you had somehow gotten my number, I was sitting under the banana tree excerpting 12th-century rules of hospital communities. That’s the century in which the very first houses specializing in the recovery of sick people had been established in western Christendom. Crusaders, who had been impressed by such houses in Byzantium, and who had observed the practice of medical hospitalization in Islam, brought the idea of nosokomium, "the sick house," to southern France. In the course of only a few decades the new idea caught fire, and not just dozens but a few hundred examples of the new institution began to dot the world of the Pope.

With the idea of such a house a new kind of religious community came into existence whose members dedicated their lives in obedience, celibacy, and poverty to the care of the sick. To guide their common life, they picked up a letter addressed to pious women by the Church Father Augustine, and added a set of recommendations made at the beginning of the century by Raymond de Guy. He had founded such a house for crusaders in Jerusalem when they were too sick and tired to venture a return home. Some of these rules were for "sisters and brothers called to the hospital," healthy persons who had heard an intimate invitation to care for those marked by disease. In other early rules, the bodily mark of disease was interpreted as a divine calling to religious community life, and the healthy who joined as members found in leprosy or gangrenous ergotism a reason to live with those more visibly marked, apart from the rest of society.

I mention this at the outset of my letter because it indicates the mood I was in when you called. In conversation with Lee, I was trying to find the right sentences to make it believable to my readers that the very idea of "hospitalizing the sick under Christian care" has a beginning in history, and that half of the Christian history we know was over before it was accepted as an obvious "need" in the medieval town.

Then you walked in. What a pleasure it was to make your acquaintance! In a few minutes it was obvious that you were not only a fellow historian, but a learned one at that First you began a decade of ecclesiastical studies, completed when the 19th-century routine of seminary training was still uncontested. This made you acquainted with a standard canon which - for those of us bom sufficiently before World War n - gave a common culture to Catholic priests all over.

Just ordained, you went to Africa for a first "trial" without any preparation. You had to grope your way into the history and culture of the mission, trusting your basic intuition and letting yourself be imbued by the prejudices floating around at the mission station. A dozen years followed as a missionary in tropical Africa. You were sent to care for people whose language in the meantime had changed beyond recognition, and because you did not properly record it, will no longer be remembered.

Next came demanding studies. As a middle-aged man, you spent several years as a graduate student at one of the world’s major universities and wrote a doctoral dissertation in cultural history, based on oral testimony you had collected. And back you went for another ample decade as a white cleric in a region which had turned into a blade nation, mostly "to care" for people who had little use for you. What a life! In many profound ways, a life that follows a pattern which people twenty years younger than we will be forced to reconstruct from biographies, because it will be beyond their grasp.

I do not know how you took the seminary fere of the postwar period with its insistence on Latin, its smattering of Thomas Aquinas for the sake of the clergy’s mental insurance, its fragments of Biblical studies - just prestigious enough to discourage personal reading and totally insuffident for nourishing homilies. But one thing became clear as we sat around Valentina’s table with your Central European traveling companion who works among the Basutos: The new generation, which poor John Paul II brings forth from contemporary places of derical learning - in comparison to those of our time - no longer has either canon or study habits, nor that minimum of ambiguous rootedness which came as a bonus with our experience.

What a maddening idea, that you should now be on leave from your equatorial mission station to submit to a pedagogical potpourri of curricular offerings planned to bring you "up to date” in theology, spirituality and pastoral care! How sad the state of the Church that, after years of isolation and intellectual starvation, a lack of books and consequent dependence on journalistic reports about Church and faith, overwork and aging in the boondocks, she has nothing better to offer you on your sabbatical than one more return into the curricular market This is the point at which our luncheon conversation became serious. Both of you asked questions, and I gave answers by which, unwittingly, I may have shocked you.

I meant what I said. Yes, I do believe that current discussions on the future of the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church are overwhelmingly beside the point because they focus on the future of the clergy. Should there be a married clergy? Should ordination be limited to the male clergy? What place should be given to the local community - clerical and lay - when it comes to the election of a bishop or the shaping of liturgical forms? Must clerics who hold opinions divergent from the Roman tradition be removed from their posts? Not the mystery of the Trinity or of the Incarnation, but the "mystery" of the clergy now polarizes the Church. A mystifying "class struggle" has been thrashed out with such noise over the last twenty-five years that not only sophisticated Jews but even Japanese tourists have the impression that to be a Catholic means to take sides on these issues.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not one who denies that these are important questions on which, to a high degree, the kind of political institution which the Roman Catholic Church becomes, depends. But they are relevant only as long as you accept a hypothesis that results from a historical accident, and not from anything in Scripture or Tradition. These questions are important only as long asyou live with the certainty that "the clergy" is a God-willed attribute of the community founded by Christ.

From personal experience, many conversations, and phenomenological analysis, I have come to the conviction that clergy - when mentioned in connection with the Roman Catholic Church - has at least one essential characteristic today which was absent from the essence of any church-grouping in previous epochs of Church history. This characteristic is the result of a proposed professional education, first formulated by Cardinal Pole in England (in the National Synod of 1556), which slipped almost verbatim into the 3rd session of the Council of Trent through Cardinal Morone, and whose provision was then defined as a duty incumbent on every bishop in the 23rd session of the Council. This proposal envisages the institutional formation of secular priests, something as unheard of in Latin Christendom at this time as poor houses which limit admittance exclusively to the sick had been unheard of during the 11th century. But unlike the idea of a specialized recovery of the sick - which spread like wildfire - it took several centuries before Canon Law began to define the attendance at seminaries as a prerequisite for ordination.

Perhaps these remarks will explain my deep interest in the "invention" of hospitals in the 12th century. I believe that this social creation of a new institutional device, motivated by heroic charity and deep trust in personal divine vocation, in the course of the next half millennium was to transform our perception of what a good society ought to be. We can no longer imagine a good society which would lade such special institutional agencies where people with special physical or mental incapadties can be bedded, stored, and treated. The need for hospitalization has become one of our basic certainties, and with it we accept as obvious that there are certain acts of charity which "just cannot be absolved by simple hospitality." I am studying not so much the history of the hospital, but the history of hospitality - now largely reduced to invitations for Christmas dinner. I argue that this degradation of hospitality happened in good faith, in the shadow of a society built on the idea of hospitalization.

Just as there is a profound difference between a society that abandons the stranger who finds no hospitality, and a society that mediates the needs of strangers through taxation and professionalism, it should be clear that there is an essential phenomenological difference between a Church which prescinds from an institutionalized routine for the specialized preparation of its priests and one in which formal education is seen as a prerequisite for ordination, and increasingly to be repeated for the continued exercise of priestly functions.

What I find scandalous is the cocky innocence with which a Western Roman tradition that claims catholicity is bound up with the fate of clergy whose competence, status, function and income are determined by a factor which is radically alien to the first three-quarters of the history of the Church. I write you this letter in the hope that you, or other "Kellys" who are returning to old age inservice seminary retraining will help to make this point Unless persons such as you take the Church’s non-clerical future into your own hands by sharing your wisdom and discipline as hosts rather than as educators, the reform of the Church will be a miracle rather than the promised marvel it has always been.

We had so little time, yesterday, that I take the liberty as a colleague to remind you of the literature which supports my claim. Let me sum up: Until the Council of Trent, there were no institutions of any kind whose purpose was the training of pastoral agents. What in retrospect is made to look like the ancestry of seminaries are historiographic phantoms invoked to justify the contemporary existence of an educational agency which, at its best, gifted those alumni it almost inevitably warped. Until the late 16th century, you became a priest the way in which you became a healer or cobbler or musician - by picking up what it takes for the task. You picked up what you needed for your ordination as best you could get it - your Latin, your store of pious stories and your common sense - on which the bishop might test you before making you a priest There is no evidence that the need for institutional initiation for the secular clergy had ever been felt Certainly Canon Law which so often is a mirror for ecclesiastical utopias - gives no sign of a desire to institutionalize preparation for the priesthood. It is only the Second Lateran Council which admonishes bishops to employ a Magister in each cathedral, who will be available to teach poor clerics without asking for tuition. The decree reflects both the new opportunity available for scholars to make money on their learning and the new trend to put the emerging profession under ecclesiastical control.

The Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 made its wish more explicit: There should be a "theologian’' who can instruct priests and others in Holy Scripture, and who could be placed particularly at the service of those who are engaged in the "care of souls." The Council did not dare request that this be done by every bishop, but only that such a charge be created by archbishops at their Metropolitan Sees. It took a millennium from the time of the Greek Fathers to the time of monastic and conventual training in early scholasticism - for a council to make a first attempt toward a separately institutionalized, "learned service" for the diocesan, as opposed to the religious, clergy. Two hundred years later the first colleges were created with the explicit purpose of housing students whose intent was pastoral rather than learned and legal: Capranica and Nardini in Rome, Antonio di Siguenza (1477) in Spain. But it would be reading a non-existent category into these early Renaissance foundations to interpret a few charitable hostels - meant mostly for poor boys who were looking for a curial benefice - as forerunners of the kind of college which came to be known as a seminary.

It took the Tridentine decree on seminaries as many centuries to be accepted by the Catholic world as it took to have all dioceses recognize the decree on the need to solemnize marriage. Most of the seminaries started in the first hundred years after the Council by the bishops themselves did not survive their first or second generation of students. The late 16th-century colleges that were run by Jesuits and later by other orders for future secular priests - as distinct from their own members - survived better, but served the formation of elite ecclesiastics rather than local pastors.

In Spain it took until the late 17th and 18th century for the idea of seminary training to enter the majority of dioceses. In Germany, the practice never was accepted. In France, Jean Jacques Olier created that unique company of St. Sulpice which, after 1642, succeeded in stemming the extinction of the few remaining seminaries founded in the aftermath of Trent

As the seminary memories of your traveling companion brought to our attention, the spirit and literature generated by this band of spiritual pedagogues still affected people bom in the second quarter of this century. Over the next 300 years the Sulpicians created an unprecedented style of fervent piety which would be a fascinating subject for an unusually gifted historian of religious mentalities. Outside of France, and especially in Latin America, only during the 19th century did seminaries become standard equipment in the typical diocese. And at that, they were often the one place where a boy could get some classical preparation. I still remember the Puerto Rican generation of seminary alumni, most of whom became the province’s lawyers or poets rather than priests.

When one discusses this background of Church reliance on seminary-trained clergy with churchmen or almost anyone, at least two points are immediately made. First, admiration is voiced for the seriousness with which the post-Reformation Church accepted the challenge by insuring "educational" progress, and then my interlocutors call attention to the claim that "modem times" demand formal education. They interpret the Church’s dependence on professional preparation of its staff as a consequence of a secular trend, and are blind to the evidence that this trend might just as well be interpreted as a secularization of an ecclesiastical model. They ask me if I can imagine a modem Church indifferent to the "education" of its leadership and without professional formation among the myriad of new fields that must be related to the Gospel if the Christian message is to remain relevant to the modem world. This is a point made very explicitly yesterday while we ate our rice.

My answer to both these questions is "no." Of course, I could imagine both, but I abstain from doing so. History is what I know has been. I need all the imagination I have to grasp what has been, something I find even more difficult when the subject is the Church. But I would like to insist on two points: First, it is the Church which has pioneered the concept that a certain amount of "education" is the prerequisite for admission to status, function, and privilege. In the process of adapting the medieval artes into a condition for the ordination of its priests, the idea of the curriculum took shape, and with it the basic assumptions upon which the ideology of universal education could be built.

That social topology, within which our various institutions are concrete configurations, depends on the assumption that eminence in any specialty presupposes curricular inputs rather than what you pick up. The prejudice against the informal learner which has grown during the last several hundred years is a characteristic of all our institutions, not just of the Church. But, in a unique way, the Church initiated this prejudice: with the seminarium — the seed bed of the next generation - it set the model for a leadership qualified by curricular consumption. The one institution which solemnly celebrates its continuity over the last two thousand years is also that institution which pioneered a gnoseocratic bureaucracy based on certified curricular consumption, and the institution which claims that this kind of "knowledge"-based aristocracy is not just opportune or "natural" but the result of God’s own will.

Second, men such as you, and many others I know, are in danger of apostolic castration due to these historical and ecclesiastical assumptions about the relationship between schooling and evangelical leadership. I purposely use the above word. After you had gone, and I tried to return to the 12th-century transmogrification of hospitality into hospitalization that was motivated by compassionate mercy, after long silence Lee (whom you met) quoted Matthew. "He sent them out..." Did He not trust each of his disciples to gather with whom they met? Did He not expect, even bless, their "balls," encourage the practice of personal hospitality in men who, for his sake, had forsaken their own home?

Yes, you were right in your suspicion that twenty-five years ago I wrote that book on the deschooling of society in the hope that a secular discussion would lead to proposals for the deschooling of the Church. As far as I know, I failed. But my conviction has only deepened. The time of qualification by curricular attendance, the time of schooling which grew out of the idea of the seminary and the ratio studiorum, is over. Even now, higher learning depends crucially on hospitality and friendship and lifelong personal emulation in those virtues which establish the independent stance of heart and mind on which stadium — in the age of AI, sociobiology, and the apocalypse of science depends.

Bob, am I wrong when I feel certain that the future of Christian learning depends on how I share it with others, or you with your friends? Am I wrong when I suggest that you tell a few of your friends that next year, between two rainy seasons, you can give sack and sorgo to no more than seven; that you have two books which you want to follow when you address them between Psalms on Monday and Wednesday; that you would like to read beforehand the books which they will comment when they speak on the other evenings?


P.S. I do not believe that the de-clericalization of the priesthood and the de-clericalization of consecrated asceticism, at this moment, depend on the de-clericalization of learning; but rather, on the creation of faits accomplis here and there. Further, the unique view on the current predicament of the world which a rootedness in the Roman Catholic tradition enables us to have can be celebrated in with circles of friends by you and by Lee and by Dara (of whom I told you) and can be celebrated with a scope which is and must forever be out of the purview of those caught within the "educational assumption," be they the Pope himself.

”Dear Kelly" Memo

TO: Joe Cunneen (editor, Cross Currents'), in response to your critique

FROM: Lee Hoinacki

Several readers of the letter have suggested that the format of the piece be changed. The feeling seems to be that an open letter is somewhat unsuitable, that it shows a certain lack of seriousness.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that in each of his "statements" published as articles or books - Illich attempts to create the proper or fitting genre for that particular moment, place, and, if appropriate, interlocutor. For the serious reader, it is instructive to study, for example, the great differences between Deschooling Society and Gender.

Here ("Dear Kelly") Illich writes directly to a person with whom he has just had lunch. Their conversation moved him, and he came to see this man’s situation in the light of themes and perspectives which have been present in his work for some years. And "Kelly’s" presence brought about the specific focus of his thought which then resulted in the letter.

In "The Vanishing Clergyman," Illich made a statement about clergy in the Church. Through a phenomenological approach, he found the Church to be a corporate bureaucracy - that is what he saw. And he suggested that this specific historical development might be questioned, it might be something unfaithful to the Founder’s intention. What question would a man of faith raise today?

Instead of writing a treatise on the historical church, or a monograph on some aspect of institutional expression, he has taken up the precise question put to him, the question embodied in two men who "just happened" to drop in on him one day. He does not want to write in the artificial structure of a professional journal. I think he wants to express himself, in both content and form, in a manner true to his experience one afternoon in Mexico. His letter shows how theological reflection can come out of particular events, and be faithful to them. Illich has lived his life denouncing and fleeing from bureaucratic leviathans. And his love for the truthfulness of the Church requires a suitably ascetic expression fitting the circumstances of the origin of his statement.

And why must historical theology and Biblical exegesis be written in an arbitrary format elaborated by professionals deeply infected with the current bureaucratic fashion? Can one believe that these standards have any real authority? In contrast, I would argue that Hlich’s authority rests solidly on his life of prayer, virtue and study. I am not aware that anyone has ever claimed that his scholarship is thin. And the truth of this statement ("Kelly") depends on his reading of history. To ask him to present his research in a form acceptable to the "guardians" of academic expression is as deeply insulting as to ask him for a sociological solution to the problem of gender. His faith does not encompass sociology; his vocabulary resolutely shuns solutions and problems except for those found, for example, in plane geometry.

In Tools for Conviviality Illich writes that "The industrial mode of production was first fully rationalized in the manufacture of a new invisible commodity, called ‘education’" (p. 19). This book contains his most complete outline for a theory of industrial society, the one which rules the lives of those of us who live in the West. And he demonstrates, first in Deschooling and later in Tools, that the industrial mode of production characterizes the making of both goods and services.

In "Dear Kelly" he sets up two parallel arguments: Just as the Church first institutionalized the care of the sick (that is, bequeathing this structure, the hospital, to the West, thereby making it more and more difficult to practice hospitality), so the Church also gave the West the institution of education. In this sense, the Church is "responsible" for the industrialization of the West. Such is the argument. In both Deschooling and Tools, Illich describes how education - that education we have all known and experienced is organized in an industrial mode. Then, in the penultimate paragraph of Tools, he notes that "the industrial dominance over production [is] the ultimate form of idolatry" (p. 119).

Perhaps I should put these last words in italics - they are the most explicit statement in this book that it, too, forms part of his lifelong "exercise in apophatic theology" (the phrase comes from Sally Cunneen’s Cross Currents review of And one can work

toward an understanding of why he takes this approach through reflection on this long-held thesis, corruptio optirnipessima, namely, that those horrors which haunt our society are of an unimaginably frightening character, worse than anything he observes in other ("non-Christian") societies, and they are mysteriously derived from the corruption and perversion of the sublime truths of Biblical revelation. (He and Jacques Ellul share this opinion.)

As Cunneen rightly points out, "Kelly" is not a "contribution to current discussion of the shortage of priests or who should be ordained or how do we produce a more adult laity." Illicit unequivocally states that "current discussions on the future of the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church are overwhelmingly beside the point because they focus on the future of the clergy [his italics]." And he means precisely, fully, what he says. The questions I hear being discussed today, regarding a vocation to ministry, have meaning only.

  • if one believes that the Church is divinely organized as a corporate, bureaucratic organization, uniting early Byzantine, Renaissance court and rational managerial elements;

  • and if one accepts "the clergy" as a divinely-willed component of the community which finds its origins in Jesus Christ.

In "The Vanishing Clergyman," Illich questions the first belief, and in "Dear Kelly," the second. Through his studies, he discovers that the organization and clergy of the Church are indeed historically contingent In a Thomistic sense, I guess, one can say that the Church today enjoys (or suffers) a clergy and this organization,per modum accidens. While he has not published any study on the historical etiology of the Church’s structure, he does point out how the phenomenon of clergy is specifically constituted by "professional education."

Further, with far-reaching results for the society at large, the Church pioneered the idea that education --understood as curricular consumption - be a "prerequisite for admission to status, function, and privilege" ("Kelly"). And this resulted in the basic modem assumption questioned only by people such as Illich upon which "the ideology of universal education could be built" (ibidem).

As Cunneen points out, Illich is suspicious of "refresher courses to keep academe going." But "accidentally" running into this person who is offered such fare by the Church, he seizes the occasion as a springboard for his reflections on the very notion of a clergy, thereby exposing the flimsy - and destructive - assumptions on which these various modem certainties rest. But I don’t think the issue here is confined to the fact "that Kelly is in a better position to train... future priests," that he can do something more than pass out "the new theological fads" (Cunneen). Illich’s argument here definitively implies what "Clergyman” earlier suggested: the disappearance of a priest-hood. And it provides much more....

When he uses the word "crisis" Illich takes it to mean the opportunity to make a choice (as he pointed out years ago, the Greek verb of origin means "to decide"). Cunneen would like to see Illicit "suggest possible new directions." I think that he does indeed to do this. In Deschooling, he wrote:

[W]hat characterizes the true master-disciple relationship is its priceless character. Aristotle speaks of it as a "moral type of friendship, which is not on fixed terms: it makes a gift, or does whatever it does, as to a friend." Thomas Aquinas says of this kind of teaching that inevitably it is an act of love and mercy. This kind of teaching is always a luxury for the teacher and a form of leisure (in Greek, "schold) for him and his pupil: an activity meaningful for both, having no ulterior purpose (p. 146).

We can see, as Illich notes (in the quote from Matthew "Dear Kelly"), that there is a consonance between the action of the Lord and the thought of Aristotle-Aquinas, vis-d-vis teaching and learning. And, twenty years ago, Illich had sincerely hoped thatDeschool-ing would lead to proposals to re-think present institutional forms in the light of the Gospel. He suggests the possibility of a more radical view of divine vocation, a more radical abandonment to grace. He contrasts grace/vocation with institutional insurance, believing them to be contradictory.

A question must be asked: Is the reliance on this formal arrangement - clerical education - the denial of the reality of personal vocation in response to the Lord’s voice? Is this to reject the example of the Lord sending out his disciples? to say - with the Grand Inquisitor - we know better?

Illich’s letter is also on friendship, on the essential place of friendship in learning today. He is definitely not concerned with the reform of clerical education. He recognizes, however, that the vocation to follow the Lord does indeed entail a kind of learning. But all higher learning today, quite apart from any reference to a ministry vocation, "depends crucially on hospitality and friendship and lifelong personal emulation in those virtues which establish the independent stance of heart and mind on which stadium... depends" ("Kelly"). In a position which makes him far more radical than the current critics of higher education, Illich states his belief that the modem university is bankrupt, that it has reached an impasse out of which - given its principles, structure, and operating ethos - it cannot move. A fortiori, learning in the context of the Gospel must seek a milieu totally different from the available examples of higher learning, a spirit and structure appropriate both to the time in which we live and to its (Gospel) origins.

To claim, literally, that the vety shape of learning in the Church rests on friendship is to suggest a new version of the Church. "The Vanishing Clergyman" did not go so far. It only prepared its readers for this later, evangelically-inspired proposal. Here, Illich goes to his sources to outline the basis for a de-clericalized church, for what he earlier called a secularized church. Through his historical research, we can now see that the Church need not be so dependent on bureaucratic and hierarchic structures, but can rest precariously - evangelically - on the friendship between me, this other person, and the Lord.

Many in the Church today appear to be fear-and anxiety-ridden. But there is no cause for alarm, Illich says. Genuine church reform can begin, now, with two or three gathered in His name - that’s all it takes.

Recent & Forthcoming Works By Jacques Ellul

by David W. Gill

(Box 5358, Berkeley, CA 94705).

T\vo of Jacques EUui’s most important sociological works were reprinted at long last in 1990. La Technique, ou, L’enjeu du siecle (ET: The Technological Society) is now available from the publisher Economica (49/ue Hericart, 75015 Paris). The publisher’s cover note says that in 1960 Ellul submitted a second, revised edition of La Technique but his publisher decided not to publish it The Economica text is this 1960 revision. Propagandes (ET: Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes) was also reprinted at the same time by Economica. Both La Technique and Propagandes are in a series called "Classiques des Sciences Sociales." Both volumes are listed at 195 francs.

It should also be noted that the same Economica series has made available two works by Ellul’s old friend and intellectual conversation partner, Bernard Charbonneau: L’Etat andLesystemeetlechaos.

Ce Dieu Injuste...? Theologie Chretiennepour lepeuple d’lsrael appeared in April 1991 from the publisher Arlea (Librairie Les Fruits du Congo,8,rue de 1’Odeon, 75006 Paris). The book is being distributed (also?) by Le Seuil^7/ue Jacob, 75006 Paris. 203 pp. paperback. 100 francs. In this book, Ellul discusses St. Paul’s famous statement of Romans (9:1-12:2) on the status of Israel in light of Jesus Christ and the New Testament. This is a biblical Christian theology in support of the ongoing, unique and special election of the Jewish people by God.

Si tu es le Fils de Dieu: Soufirances et tentations de Jesus appeared in June 1991 from the publisher Le Centurion (Paris). This brief paperback (110 pages; 78 francs) was co-published with R. Brockhaus Verlag in Zurich. In Part One, Ellul explores the Gospel accounts of the "suffering servant" and in Part Two the various "temptations of Jesus" beginning with Satan in the dessert. What Ellul has offered us here are some fifty brief meditations on the humanity of Jesus.

In conversation at his home in Bordeaux on June 25,1991, Ellul clarified once again that he has a completed manuscript on "Technique and Theology" for which he has never found a publisher. He also has a thousand hand-written manuscript pages on "The Ethics of Holiness" but has not had the time or secretarial support to convert this to typescript and complete his own revisions and editorial work.

The only other work in the pipeline at present is his major study of Islam. As of last summer Ellul felt that one third of this book was completed, another third (on the Koran) had been finished but now needed major revisions because of the appearance of new translations of the Koran, and yet another third had barely been started. The shock of Yvette Ellul’s death in the Spring and Jacques Ellul’s own ongoing health struggles have quite understandably slowed his progress on his writing projects. I assured him of the prayers and best wishes of his North American students, colleagues and friends.

Issue #9 Jul 1992 — Ellul on Communications Technology

A Forum for Theology in a Technological Civilization

July 1992 Issue #9 ©1992 Department of Religious Studies, University of Sou th Florida, Tampa, FL 33620

From the Editor

As promised, this issue is devoted to Ellul’s critique of our mass media society. My thanks to our guest editor, Clifford Christians, for putting this issue together. I will let Cliff brief you on the contents.

Darrell J. Fasching, Editor

About This Issue

by Clifford Christians, Guest Editor

English-speaking students of mass communications first noticed Ellulwhen Propagandes was translated in 1965. Propaganda studies following World War n had centered on overt, political manipulation with Hitler’s Goebbels the archetypal case. Ellul helped us come to grips with the subtle, covert and devastating ways in which media technologies reorient our values around efficiency. Communication scholars interested in theology have welcomed Ellul’s other books and essays in this area.

Ellul’s contributions to symbolic theory are the least well known and they are outlined in this issue by J. Wesley Baker. Darrell Fasching examines one of Ellul’s most disturbing claims - that the visual media short-circuit our critical capacities. I review Ellul’s hard-hittingHunufihdon of the Word in the light of recent theoretical work on the nature of communication systems. And, as typical with The Ellul Studies Forum, representative books covering the same territory are introduced as a way of encouraging dialogue with similar and contradictory viewpoints. Two recent dissertations applying Ellul to communications are introduced, in the hope that other dissertations on Ellul will be abstracted in future issues of the Forum.

Communications is not a discipline per se, but a region of common intellectual concerns where many disciplines cross. Given Ellul’s own breadth and interdisciplinary interests, he has been fully at home when dealing with problems in communications. And because the mass media are such a dominant social institution today, those acquainted with Ellul from many disciplines have also followed closely his studies on communication technologies. They serve as a productive arena for examining Ellul’s central ideas.

In This Issue

Forum: Jacques Ellul on Communications Technology

Ellul on the Need for Symbolism by J. Wesley Baker

Where the Maas Media Abound, the Word Abounds Greater Still by Darrell J. Fasching

Communication Theory in Ellul’s

Sociology by Clifford G.Christians

Book Reviews:



The Bulletin Board

Ethics After Auschwitz & Hiroshima

About The Ellul Studies Forum


Bibliographic Submissions Book Review Submissions

Bulletin Board

Ethics After Auschwitz and Hiroshima

The first book of a two volume project on narrative ethics after Auschwitz and Hiroshima by Darrell Fasching has just been released by Fortress Press under the title Narrative Theology After Auschwitz-FromAlienation to Ethics (1992). The second book will be published next summer (1993) by SUNY Press under the title: The Ethical Challenge of Auschwitz and Hiroshima: Apocalypse or Utopia? The following is taken from the prologue of the first book:

These two volumes are intended to be an experiment in theology of culture as an approach to comparative religious ethics. This first volume, Narrative Theology After Auschwitz, from the perspective of a narrative ethic approach, attempts to restructure the Christian narrative tradition, in the light of Auschwitz, through a dialogue with that strand of post-Holocaust Jewish theology and ethics which draws upon the Jewish narrative tradition of chutzpah. This volume culminates in an ethic of personal and professional responsibility proposed as a strategy for constraining the human capacity for the demonic. This takes the form of an ethic of audacity (chutzpah) on behalf of the stranger.

In the next volume, The Ethical Challenge of Auschwitz and Hiroshima: Apocalypse or Utopia?, I continue the narrative ethics approach but extend the ethical focus of the discussion to encompass religion, technology and public policy in a cross-cultural perspective. There I suggest that the dominant myth or narrative of our modem global technological civilization is the Janus-faced myth of "Apocalypse or Utopia." This mythic narrative tends to render us ethically impotent, for, mesmerized by the power of technology, we become trapped in the manic-depressive rhythms of a sacral awe - i.e., of fasdnation and dread. When we are caught up in the utopian euphoria created by the marvelous promises of technology we do not wish to change anything. And when, in our darker moments, we fear that this same technology is out of control and leading us to our own apocalyptic self-destruction, we feel overwhelmed and unable to do anything. The paradox is that the very strength of our literal utopian euphoria sends us careening toward some literal apocalyptic "final solution."

In the second volume I argue that the narrative theme of the demonic which dominated Auschwitz - "killing in order to heal" - has become globalized and incorporated into the Janus-faced technological mythos which emerged out of Hiroshima. It is this mythic narrative which underlies and structures much of public policy in our nuclear age. Finally, in response, I endeavor to extend the Jewish-Christian dialogue of the first volume to include Buddhism, in order to suggest a cross-cultural coalition for an ethic of human dignity, human rights and human liberation in response to this technological globalization of the demonic. At the heart of my position in these two volumes is the conviction that the kairos of our time is one which calls forth the badly neglected ethic of "welcoming the stranger" which underlies the biblical tradition, and analogously "welcoming the outcast" which underlies the Buddhist tradition. It is this care for the stranger and the outcast, I shall argue, which provides the critical norm for an ethic of human dignity, human rights and human liberation.

It is in the second volume that I construct a theory of theology of culture as comparative religious ethics. However, the theory I develop there and the conclusions I arrive at, concerning a cross-cultural pluralistic ethic of human rights in response to Auschwitz and Hiroshima, would be impossible for me without having first come to grips with Auschwitz as a singular event for Western religion, culture and ethics. Each book is written as an argument which is intended to stand on its own. At the same time, however, the full scope of what I am proposing can only be grasped by reading both. My immediate goal in this volume is to span the abyss between Jews and Christians in a suggested coalition against the unprecedented power of the demonic which has erupted in this century. My ultimate goal, in the next volume, is to expand this coalition so as to bridge not only the abyss between religions, East and West, but also between religious and secular ethics.

The total project, then, is about religion, ethics and public polity after Auschwitz and Hiroshima. It is about: (a) rethinking the meaning of civilization and public order in an emerging pluralistic world civilization as we approach the end of a millennium — the year 2000 C.E.; (b) the need of a cross-cultural ethic in a world racked by ethical relativism and ideological conflict and; (c) the mythologies of the sacred and the secular in a technological civilization and the appropriate role for religion in the shaping of public values in a "secular" world.

The perspective from which these books are written is that of theology. However, it is not "Christian" theology although it is assuredly theology written by a Christian. It is not "confessional theology" but theology understood as an academic discipline within the humanities, whose purpose is the illumination of the human experience (individual and communal) of transcendence as self-transcendence. Needless to say, the same subject matter would be treated differently had this project been written by a Buddhist or some other more "secular" a-theist, or by a Hindu, Jew or Muslim rather than a Christian. And yet I intend it to be a theology which has something to say not only to Christians but also to Jews and Buddhists and others without being either a Jewish or Buddhist theology, etc. And I mean it to be a theology relevant to "secular" or humanistic a-theists as well...

The first volume, I hope, suggests the possibility of a common coalition between Jews and Christians against any future eruptions of the demonic. In the next volume I attempt to extend this coalition, suggesting a cross-cultural ethic of human dignity, human rights and human liberation through the synergy of the diverse narrative traditions (East and West, religious and secular) of hospitality, whose common theme is welcoming the stranger. Contrary to the usual critique of human rights Qaunched by narrative ethicists) as an attempt to impose a single universal "storyless" ethic on the whole human race, I argue that an ethic of human dignity and human rights requires just the opposite, namely, a pluralistic coalition of the narrative traditions of holy communities which only need to share one thing in common — audacity in defense of the stranger.

Forum: Ellul on Communications Technology

Ellul on the Need for Symbolism

by J. Wesley Baker
Cedarville College

The more I have studied Ellul’s writings, the more impressed I have become with the central role "communication" plays in his thought. Since my field of study is communication technologies, I initially was drawn to Ellul because of his insistence that the technological system (la technique) is dominating our era. There was, as well, an initial attraction because of the number of examples he draws from the media. But I have come to see that Ellul’s concern with communication is at a far more important level: We can hope for the survival of what is human only if we engage in the creation of symbols which allow us to retain mastery in a technological environment The purpose of this essay is to outline for Ellul scholars the central place our need to symbolize plays in Ellul’s thought.

Ellul’s Terminology

In his writings about communication, Ellul makes a point of insisting he does not take a specialist’s viewpoint on the topic. Temple says that while this "outsider’s" orientation contributes to an imprecision in his terminology, its strength is in providing a "common sense" approach.

Perhaps he is not always fair to leaders in the linguistic sciences, but (as in all his other books) he is neither a philosopher nor a literary critic. He writes as social commentator (and as an "ordinary" layman) observing the effects of changes in the role of language and also as a voice for common sense on behalf of all of us who feel that somehow the substance of language has been replaced by a trick with smoke and mirror images.[51]

It is this orientation which leads Ellul to argue: "Defining language by talking about codes, signifiers, the syntagma, semiotics, and semiology does not solve the problem" of language we face today. Always we must come back to simple facts, common sense, and commonplaces as our starting point"[52] He is concerned that an approach to language which is too "scientific" can rob it of its symbolic function.

Human language cannot be reduced strictly to a transmission of information. Communicationy/information theory is extremely impoverished for it reduces language to a reality, doubtless scientifically knowable, but one that excludes the principal aspect of the phenomenon. The symbolization of society is effected through language and, since the beginning, this process has considered the social relationship as not merely the immediate contact of human being to human being, but as a mediated relationship. This mediation creates a symbolic space for the obligatory interpretation of relationships. It provides a "windbreak" between man and man and causes brutality to be excluded so that coexistence becomes possible. Man cannot subsist on mere physical contact alone; he must symbolize it and situate it in a symbolic universe.[53]

The risk comes from our ability to "separate the code from the language, the information from the spoken words, or reduce information to bytes."[54] This technical approach to language leads to a reductionism which eliminates "from human language everything that goes beyond visual information, everything that is inaccessible to the code. The result would bejiot just an amputation, which is the traditional reductionist method of all the sciences, but a surgical excision of language’s very heart."[55] As a result, Ellul is opposed to any approach which limits language’s "breadth of meaning, ambiguity, and variation in interpretation.[56] Most importantly for Ellul, the uncertainty inherent in our symbols provides us with individual freedom as we seek for truth and coherence.

Symbolization as a Basic Human Need

Ellul calls human symbol-making "one of the most basic functions of life."[57] He believes that our creation in the image of the God-who-speaks is at the base of our symbolizing and thus serves as an important part of what distinguishes us from the rest of creation.[58] It is, he says, "the specific characteristic of Homo sapiens...." But, besides defining man, this symbol-making function is also "the key to his success."[59] The "success" to which Ellul refers is humankind’s ability to survive in its milieu or environment tty gaining mastery over it through symbolization.[60]

Ellul links milieu and symbolization quite closely, noting that "symbolization is always effected in relation to the environment in which man lives, and as a function of the environment"[61] Ellul points out that it is only within "the environment [that] we have occasion to exercise one of the most basic functions of life, that is, symbolism. The environment gives us the chance to create symbols, and here are riches that spur us to development"[62]It is through this process of a sense-making ordering of the world that "man [is able] to engage himself in a certain mastery of nature."[63]

Mastery over our environment is made possible by this symbolic function as it provides humans "domination through distance and differentiation."[64] On the first point, domination through distance, Ellul argues that, "for there to be symbolization at all, the symbol-creator must be outside what he is symbolizing; there must be some distance between the symbolizer and the symbolized."[65] On the second, domination through differentiation, distinctions for Ellul result from our designation of names, because the "word is creator in that it names things, thus specifying them by differentiating them."[66] This gives us mastery over what we name as we attach importance, meaning, and place to it. "To name someone or something," he says, "is to show one’s superiority over him or it."[67] As an example, Ellul refers to the Genesis account, where "Adam is confirmed as the head of creation when God brings all the animals to him so that he can give each one a name (Gen. 2:19)."[68] Thus, being comes through naming.

The Genesis passage that establishes creation on the basis of separation contains the germ of the most modern ideas about language: it tells us that difference both establishes the word and proceeds from it. The word bestows being on each reality, attributing truth toil; it gives dynamism to reality and prescribes a fixed trajectory for it. In this way the word disentangles confusion and nonbeing?[69]

Our name-making is driven by our need for coherence. The creative process allows us to order our environment through symbols. "From the moment man proceeds to the denomination of things," Ellul writes, "he has made them enter his universe and they belong to a coherent ensemble. They belong to man by virtue of the name he has bestowed on them. He has not only put his mark on things, he has also made then [sic] exist."[70] This transformation comes as one symbolizes, making "his natural, objective reality into a special universe that he constitutes from within himself;"[71] and resulting in the "creation of a universe different from the one in which he is situated, but fully a part of his real mileau."[72]

The whole process of symbol-making is interpretive, making signs "enter into a coherent explanatory ensemble (even if only fictivety explanatory) of which man stands as master."[73] Ellul says the coherence is gained as one selects which elements to feature or mask, in the same way as an artist interprets reality.

[Symbolization] is not like a photographic reproduction, which would serve no function: the painter makes choices of which characteristics of reality to retain, highlighting some and making them carriers of meaning, while others he marks for obliteration, pushing them into the shadows or making them disappear altogether.... There is a transformation into a new universe, which renders explicit and in terms of relationship, that which is implicit and without apparent relationship.[74]

Ellul places supreme importance on this interpretive process which provides structure for our world because it is through "the symbolic transformation of reality" that one "creates the possibility of acquiring a non-material grasp on reality, without which he would be completely unprovided for."[75]

Since the creation of tytnbols is rooted in the environment or milieu in which we find ourselves, problems arise during a time of transition. As we have moved into the environment of la technique, our use of symbols has become outdated. "[S]ince thinking is slow to move and verbal forms are always a step behind reality, the older environment serves as an ideological reference for those who have been plunged into the new one."[76] Importantly for Ellul, as we live during a time of transition, this tendency toward anachronistic symbolization leads to "enormous errors of judgment" which result in a failure to identity property the challenge of la technique?[77]

Self-Symbollzatlon of la technique

As we attempt to make sense of our new technological environment, Ellul argues that la technique itself provides coherence through its self-symbolization.[78] Ellul contends that "technology is itself productive of symbols and becomes by itself its own symbol... . Technology is not only an environment, nor merely an ensemble of means and instruments; it is itself a symbolic universe. It furnishes itself with its own symbols."[79] As a result, "[n]ow it is technology which has taken over and which produces for man the coherent symbols that are attributable to the technological universe."[80]

Through the images produced by la technique some of our needs seem to be met But Ellul argues that we have experienced "a complete inversion of the scale of needs."[81] As a result, the needs which are met are "artificial needs, which are unimportant, not in the least essential to man, but which become irrepressible, exigent, imperious, the only ones to be taken seriously in the long run..."[82]

Images help us make up for the loss of the natural environment, a loss to which we have never quite reconciled ourselves. Without contact with the reality of the natural environment "we develop an extremely deep need for another reality." This need is met though "[t]he image is mirage [which] reconciles contradictions, makes absent nature present and real again .... Images counterbalance all the abstractions. And they restore to us at last a reality in which we can live: the reality of the world of images."[83] But this "world imagined by the media" is a "perfectly artificial world, recomposed by the images and sounds of these media. Consequently," Ellul says, "there is no place for symbolization to occur."[84]

The end result is that we cannot gain mastery over our technological environment because the only experience we accept as "real" is itself the result of la technique’s self-symbolization. "[T]he images of a technical society only seem to be symbolizing by reflecting a reality that is itself onty a reflection." Thus, instead of providing distance and differentation, this self-symbolization "has the effect of integrating, adapting, and assimilating man to technique."[85] This integration is encouraged tty our distraction from the reality of the system. "Images are essential if I am to avoid seeing the day-to-day reality I live in. They glitter continuously around me, allowing me to live in a sort of image-oriented fantasy.”[86] Ellul draws a distinction between images as "a substitute reality" and the word, which "obliges me to consider reality from the point of view of truth." He writes, "Artificial images, passing themselves off for truth, obliterate and erase the reality of my life and my society."[87]

The Need for New Symbols

Living in an environment of artificial images results in the elimination of meaning: "Language becomes, in effect, a system of signs which answer to certain archetypes, to certain uses and to certain habits, but the symbolic dimension of language is destroyed."[88] The "reality” of the poetic, mythic and metaphysical falls before the "reality" of the empirical. What can be "seen" by the soul is replaced tty what can be seen with the eyes. The word becomes humiliated by the image. Symbol becomes sign. Language "becomes no more than a sort of organized noise," so that "a whole part of man’s symbolic activity is rendered impossible. Among other things, he is capable neither of true consciousness nor of recognition."[89]

Part of the problem is that the Enlightenment’s elimination of the metaphysical makes it difficult for people in modem society to create a "symbolic universe," that is, a superordinate sense-making of our environment which is based on the ultimate. Instead, we are limited to that which can be handled "scientifically." When it comes to language, the result has been the study of signs apart from meaning;"... the mentality of scientism has pounced upon language,” Ellul complains, "and has involved us in reducing the word to the state of an object: a scientific object"[90] The tangible, what can be seen, becomes what is "real."

I cannot observe the signified, nor the relationship of the signifier with the signified. These are "philosophical" problems. On the contraiy, I can observe the emission of a phrase, its circulation, deformation, and audition. I can even make nice diagrams of this process. This shows in the first place that this attitude follows the traditional ^scientific” tendency: onty what can be observed and analyzed by the classical scientific method is important (or even exists, in the extreme view). Since onty the communication process involving the signifier can be thus analyzed, it is the onty thing that matters to us. Everything else is a metaphysical argument that serves onty to confuse the scientific relationship between subject and object. [91]

But in excluding meaning as beyond examination (and therefore unimportant) and in concentrating "exclusively on reality and the concrete," we lose the truth which is "to be read between the lines or heard in the silent moments of discourse." While the Image limits us to "[t]ruth verifiable by science," the word "continually casts doubt on this claim."[92]

The ultimate bankruptcy of the universe of images is out of sight for us in the environment oflatechnique. The system "presents itself as an environment so coherent and so unitary that it does not seem to have a point where man can insert anything else."[93] It "devalues all other mediations and man seems to have no need of symbolic mediation because he has technological mediation."[94] As a result, "[n]ow it is technology which has taken over and which produces for man the coherent symbols that are attributable to the technological universe."[95]

The problem with this new reality is that its dependence on images produces the "tendency toward the disappearance of the symbolic function."[96] Given the unity of the system, "man seems to have no need of symbolic mediation because he has technological mediation. It even appears to man that technology is more efficacious and permits him a greater domination over what threatens him and a more certain protection against danger than does the symbolic process."[97] Our ability to create symbols has been sterilized by the ease with which we can "consume" the system’s images. "Just as vaccines have progressively reduced the capacity of the organism to create spontaneously natural immunities, so in the same way, man no longer creates symbols because too many are offered him at too simple a level of consumption."[98] But these images "have not elaborated a significant and meaningful symbolic universe."[99] They have "ceased to assure us of permanence; ceased to call forth a deepened consciousness and thus cannot be creators of history."[100] They ultimately fail because they cannot meet our need for a "deep" coherence.

Provided with a technological mediation which is so efficient and so complete that it becomes embraced to the exclusion of all else, we have lost sight of the human need to create our own symbols if we are to survive and grow. "Man no longer feels specifically the need to launch himself into the adventure of initial symbolic creation precisely because he sees himself surrounded by those symbols that are actually produced by the technological system."[101] The easy access to the existing symbolic universe of la technique "sterilizes man’s desire" to create one’s own symbols [102]

Intervention Into the Cycle

The vicious circle which is suggested by Ellul’s analysis reveals to us the double importance of communication in his thinking: the seemingly complete mediation of la technique reduces our perceived need to create symbols, and without the creation of new symbols with which we can gain mastery over our new enviroment, no challenge to the technological mediation is possible. Thus Ellul seeks to provide an intervention into the cycle through his demonstration of the emptiness of the needs which are being met tty la technique and the danger resulting from our loss of awareness of our need to symbolize. Only tty breaking this vicious circle are adaptation and growth possible. "So long as the evolution of the symbolic universe remains possible, the normal evolution of society is possible without crisis and within humanely acceptable bounds."[103] Therefore, man’s "only chance to subsist in his human specificity" is "to effect a symbolization of technology" toward human ends.[104] The "univocal" mediation by technology must be replaced with symbolization which is "plurivocal, equivocal, unstable in [its] applications, and also deeply rooted in a rich and creative unconsciousness."[105] Ellul believes that we must "work to create new values, to reach a consensus on a new meaning, to create new symbols." If this is done, then it is possible that technologies can be placed in the role of servant once again. But "if society is not successful, it surely will disintegrate. In other words," he says, "it is now a time for invention.... It is to that invention of a new communication which adequately symbolizes the elements of la technique that Ellul calls us.

Where Mass Media Abound, The Word Abounds Greater Still

--Reflections on Robert Cole’s Study of Children, Movies and Ethics

by Darrell J. Fasching University of South Florida

Where Mass Media Abound Ethical Freedom Disappears - Or Does It?

Jacques Ellul’s analysis of the mass media’s influence, at first glance, makes it seem as if we are without resources in a mass media civilization. The media, he suggests, rob us of our individuality and our capacity for critical thinking. Our thought and action beinme stereotypical. Consequently we lose our capacity for ethical reflection and action. For Ellul, our only hope lies in the power of the word to free us from our illusions. What I hope to show, with the help of Robert Coles recent work on the moral fife of children, is that where media images abound, the word abounds greater still Children, we usually assume, are less capable of critical thought and analysis and therefore are even more vulnerable to mass media imagery than adults. However, in The Moral Life of Children Coles shows that while children can indeed mouth the stereotypes of the adult mass media world they also show an amazing capacity for independent ethical reflection. Such reflecton is often provoked tty the media themselves, especially television and film.

As Ellul has pointed out, in a technical civilization we live immersed in a media environment so total and constant that it is virtually invisible. What is dangerous about this environment is that media make it possible to address individuals within the masses, creating the illusion of personal involvement while actually eliminating their individuality. To the degree that such persons rely on the media for information they are subjected to oversimplified characterizations of social and political situations. Complex issues are reduced to basic positive and negative options formed around stereotypes. The unique thoughts of the reflective self are replaced with a media generated collection of fragmentary stereotypical public opinions. There is no longer a progression from private to public opinion, says Ellul, "only from one state of public opinion to another state of that same public opinion.[106]"

Television and film, especially, create an environment of images and illusions that short-circuit our ability to sustain critical distance. Rather than stimulating critical reflecton, visual images bring thought to a halt. "A picture is worth a thousand words." The facts speak for themselves. Knowing becomes equated with "taking a look." All further reflection becomes unnecessary. The power of the news telecast is in giving us a feeling of presence, of immediateness, so we can see for ourselves. "Seeing is believing." One sees the facts, and having seen them, the issue is resolved. However, while seeing gives one the illusion of objectivity, it in fact totally abolishes the distance necessary for critical objective thought.

All of this brings about a fundamental mutation in our thought processes. Rational reflection is replaced by associative thinking. Films, photos, even words are used to evoke stereotypical feelings and reactions. The institutional infrastructure of society, says Ellul, is a "reality" legitimated tty a superstructure or "sacred canopy" of images. The power of images, mediated through film and televsion, is such that we are removed from our everyday world of interpersonal interaction, where what we do has some effect, and placed instead in a fictional world which presents itself as "reality." It is a non-dialogical world of one way communication which our thoughts and actions can never touch or influence. The end result of living in this "reality" is that we are totally immobilized and prevented from significantly affecting the shape of our social world.

The image integrates us into the illusion of that "reality". By contrast, the word makes us conscious of our separateness, our individuality, our freedom. The word inserts the creative tension of transforming freedom into the closed realm of mass media society. Although he needs to be challenged on this, Ellul argues that the very nature of the word elicits reasoning and analysis, freeing one from mesmerization by the image.[107] The word restores the personalizing dimension of time and memory and evokes our capacity for freedom and revolt. "The word,” for Ellul, "must always remain a door opening to the Wholly Other."[108] As a result the word "is strictly contradictory to technique in every way."[109] It is through the word, Ellul suggests, that human sovereignty can be recovered over the domain of technique. It is not a matter of doing away with images. No human society can function without images. It is simply a matter of restoring a balance and with it the possibility of critical reflection.

Ellul’s sociological analysis of the impact of mass media upon human freedom produces a discouraging perspective. Media seem to create an environment in which ethical freedom is impossible. The integration of the image and technique make Ellul very pessimistic about the possibilities of the word finding a place in the life of the individual who is immersed in a media environment And yet, as Ellul himself argues, everything depends upon the individual. At the macro level of social analysis everything may seem determined and yet at the individual level freedom might yet be possible. Robert Coles work with the children of this mass media world in fact suggests that not only is freedom possible but it abounds. It abounds because the power of the word abounds in the lives of these children.

The Word Abounds Greater Still

Robert Coles, who received a Pulitzer Prize for his series Children ofCrisis, began his career by studying the impact of integration on black and white children in the South in the sixties. Since then he has studied the responses of children to crises in a variety of cultures. Recently this work has culminated in-three important books - The Political Life of Childrert The Moral Life of Children and The Spiritual Life of Children.[110] In The Moral Life of Children he devotes a chapter to "Movies and Moral Energy" in which he suggests that both television and film can sometimes serve as important ethical resources for children, provoking their capacity for ethical reflection in unexpected ways.

In the sixties TV sets were found in the homes of southern children wherever he went. He reports that, annoyed by the common habit of leaving the TV on even when no one was watching, he once got up and turned off a TV set in an adjoining room. He did this because he wanted to conduct, without distraction, his interview with Ruby, a poor young black girl (age 6) who was a central figure in the forced integration of a white school in New Orleans. The mother immediately got up and turned it back on. Later tbe child explained to him that the movies and serials kept her mama going in hard times. They apparently served this role for the daughter as well. She was one of a handful of black children being escorted to school everyday by federal marshals. Her trips to the movies in the midst of all this tension and hatred, she said, seemed "providential" (56). "There will be times, like now, when... they [her mother and father] wonder why God gave all this trouble to the Negro people, and the white people have a better time. Then my mother will remember something she’s seen in the movie, and she says you musn’t forget that the white people aren’t all having such a good time, either" (57).

Movies, whether in the theater or on TV, are composed of more than just images. They are a balance of word and image. They are a form of storytelling which offers us opportunities to identify with others whose lives would otherwise be totally alien to our own. In so doing, we gain ethical perspective. They offer us, as well, the full range of human emotions to be explored and put into ethical perspective. Thus they provide occasions for ethical conversion and new life. Once an author completes a story, says Flannery O’Connor, it takes on a life of its own - "You never know the new life that will result!" (59). With this thought in mind, Coles reflects cm the role that movies played in preparing people to deal with integration. In the early sixties blade and white families caught up in the integration controversy were seeing and discussing films like A Raisin in the Sun (1961) and To Kill a Mockingbird (1962).

Coles was struck by how some children related primarily to the race issue while others focused on the mother-daughter relationship in the film Raisin in the Sun. The black mother strikes her daughter for mocking the mother’s belief in God. One child, an 8 year old white girl, responded by repeating the stereotypes of much of the adult world around hen "When the mother slapped her daughter and told her to believe in God, she was being smart. If you walk away from God, you’re walking toward a lot of trouble. Maybe the colored will get into more and more trouble, because everyone is telling them they’re bad off, and they believe it, and then there’s trouble, like now, in our schools. If those people in the movie only listened to the mother, they’d be better off. The trouble was, even the mother wanted to move [i.e., into a better "white" neighborhood]. If she really believed in God, wouldn’t she want to say right where she was?" (63). But Ruby comes to a different conclusion: "The mother can make her say it [i.e., *there is a God’], but the daughter might not believe what she says. The mother smacked her daughter on the face, and our minister says you don’t hurt someone, even if someone tries to hurt you, not if you believe in God" (62). A third child who viewed the film, failed to pickup on the mother-daughter conflict at all and reported the lesson of the movie was: "don’t leave the South" (64).

No two children experienced the film in exactly the same way. Each filtered the film through the prism of his or her own inner life. Each took the film as an occasion to test the limits of his ot her own moral worldview in some way. In the first case, it reinforced the mass stereotypes of the surrounding society; but in the case of Ruby, a deep ethical reflection occurred which allowed her to champion the importance of belief in God being uncoerced. Indeed lack of coercion becomes for her a test of authentic belief in God.

After seeing To Kill a Mockingbird, Ruby was struck by the paradox that Boo Radley, whom everyone feared as crazy and potentially dangerous, turns out to be the protector of children. Ruby confesses: "‘I wasn’t scared for the man, the negro they all were wanting to kill. I knew they’d want to get him, and so did he!.... No, I was scared for the white kids, and I felt sorry for that man next door [Boo].... My grandma said it’s people like him who get a bad name, but they’re good people; and it’s the people standing out there in front of the school, and they’re the ones who are the bad people, but no one’s calling them crazy.... They say they stand for everybody in the city. That’s what one man tells me in the morning: ‘Hey, you little nigger, ’ he says,Tm here for the whole of New Orleans to tell you off!’ I just walk on, and I think of all the people I know in New Orleans who aren’t like him. The poor man in the movie [Boo] - if he lived in New Orleans he’d sure not be out on the street screaming at us.’" As Coles notes, here the film became for Ruby a vehicle for making an ethical distinction between appearance and reality which she applied to the world of her own persecution. It enabled her to have faith and go on, confident that at least some white people could be counted upon, like Boo, to be secretly on her side.

Far from arriving at a depersonalizing collectivist response, Ruby transcended black-white stereotypes to find hidden goodness among those who could have been viewed as all alike in their hatred. Thus, Coles concludes that "one is left with the mystery that takes place between each reader and each text, and each viewer and each film: the diversity of stimulation that emerges from several characters embedded in a complex plot, and the considerable latitude of awareness and moral concern in an audience" (65). Something can happen between the child and the film that cannot be accounted for by any psychology, sociology or even theology - something that transcends these categories to engage the ethical and spiritual energy of the child. Perhaps it is something we could call grace or the power of the word. Drawing on this power, Ruby used the film story to call into question the stereotypical image of all whites as racist. Ruby even hoped that movies might be a force for redemption in a world divided by racial hatred: "‘I’ve been thinking,’.... 'If all the [white] people on the street [who were heckling her mercilessly] saw the movie they might stop coming out to bother us.... Because... the people in the movies would work on them, and maybe they’d listen.” (65-66). "It is a mistake ," says Coles, "to regard these children as mere moral puppets, driven by the workings of some contemporary sociodrama to hunt down cheap symbols in order to help express whatever psychological tensions were at work inside their heads.... The human mind in the first decade of life can conjure up the demonic even in the close at hand world of a small and familiar rural setting and that same mind may be instructed in the error of its way by life’s events" (75-76).

The ethical imagination of these children draws out of these films what they need in order to reflect on the moral perplexities of their own lives. "It is not a matter of reflex reaction, a behavioral sequence of sociological and psychological stimuli finding their mark. Rather, those behavioral stimuli are, not infrequently, ignored, or absorbed in some broader moral visions of things that even small children seem unselfconsciously able to construct for themselves" (77). Although we are all supposedly "turned to putty" by the power of the media, says Coles, still "we have it within our power, young or old, to attend selectively, to summon a sense of proportion, to call upon humor and common sense, to assume a varying or even quite insistent critical distance from the subject under scrutiny in the film, and later, in a given mind’s life" (77). As a 14 year old bey comments on traditional "cowboy and Indian" films: "I don’t try to remember my American History... while I see the cowboys going after the Indians. But I don’t forget my history, either.... People don’t give you credit a lot of the time for havingyour head screwed on straight!" (78-79). This young boy from Albuquerque was in fact angered by the mistreatment the Indians had received and continued to receive at the hands of Anglos.

Far from automatically destroying our ethical freedom, films can be the occasions which provoke ethical reflection and heighten ethical sensibilities. Around the world, Coles, argues, "movies stir up" the ethical imagination. "I have found among rich children, poor children, black children, white children, American children, children of Ireland or England or Brazil or South Africa, that all are intrigued by the mixture of release from the earth and the persistence of our earthly capacities for decency and for malice, for good deeds and bad deeds. The combination is irresistible. I could fill hundreds of pages of print with transcriptions of what I’ve heard children say about these films" (84). Movies can enable us to see ourselves through the eyes of others because they can seduce us into seeing the world as others see it, for both good and evil. These stories on film speak to us because we are all "wayfarers, wanderers, alarmed castaways, or transients who find ourselves here on earth, and trying to figure out the moral significance of that realization" (90). Movies can help us gain an ethical perspective on our situation. As Ruby put it:" I went to that movie and afterward I kept thinking of it, thinking and thinking, and the next day it made me wonder what I should do, and would I be doing right or wrong" (92).[111] Such ethical reflections are possible because our humanity resides in our inalienable capacity for language. As sign language testifies, not even the deaf and dumb can be robbed of their humanity. In their every gesture the word becomes flesh. Nothing can separate our humanness from this capacity for the word. Put theologically, no child of God is ever abandoned by the Word, for all things are created, held together and fulfilled through the Word in which we live, move and have our being. In a world of apparent necessity where the media abound, the gracious gift of the Word abounds greater still, making all things passible and all things new.

Promo for Narrative Theology after Auschwitz

From Alienation to Ethics

by Darrell J. Fasching

Narrative Theology After Auschwitz is a critique and reconstruction of Christian theology and ethics through a dialogue with the Jewish narrative tradition of Chutzpah (i.e., audacity). It proposes a shared ethic of audacity in defense of the dignity of the stranger as a response to the threats of our techno-bureaucratic world.

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Prologue: Wrestling with the Stranger - From Alienation to Ethics

Chp. 1 Theology After Auschwitz: Re-forming

the Christian Story

Chp. 2 Ethics after Auschwitz: Christians and the Jewish Narrative Tradition of Chutzpah

Chp. 3 The Challenge of Auschwitz: Rethinking Christian Narrative Ethics

Chp. 4 Demythologizing the Demonic

Chp. 5 Reconstructing Christian Narrative Ethics:

Personal and Professional Responsibility After Auschwitz

Epilogue: On Wrestling and Reconciliation

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Communication Theory in Ellul's Sociology

by Clifford G. Christians University of Illinois-Urbana

Since 1948 communication has played a prominent role in Ellul’s sociology. Already in his thesis statement, The Presence of the Kingdom, Ellul isolated the problem of communication as central to understanding the contemporary age. As Joyce Hanks observes, Propaganda (1962) was the first of Ellul’s books to give la technique an indepth study.[112] Prayer and Modem Man (1970) was cast against today’s crisis in language.

Ellul’s long-term interest in communications makes The Humiliation of the Word an important laboratory for understanding his social philosophy. This volume is the site of my analysis here, and I work the territory with a sympathetic mind. Propaganda has been a formative book for me since I first read it in 1970. In contrast to superficial treatments innocent of the infrastructure-transmission views of communication in the behaviorist mode-Ellul situates the media in their socio-political context. He understands them as a technological and cultural form, and develops a normative framework light years beyond our commonplaces. He has almost singlehandedly moved the axis of propaganda studies away from overt intention among individuals to covert integration sociologically.

And I consider Humiliation of the Word an instructive book as well. Its major theme is unassailable-the need in our time to liberate language as an agent of human freedom. He privileges the medium throughout. He understands the significant fact that media technology itself is a central interpretive framework. McLuhan’s aphorism - the medium is the message - in other words, he recognizes as a powerful notion. Ellul realizes that the technological form must be isolated on its own terms and not overlooked in our preoccupation with content. Ellul gives that notion his own inflection, recognizing a sea change occurs when media shift from books to television. And in his usually indominitable manner, his wide appeal to symbolic representation is stunning in scope.

I am argumentative in this article, but before outlining my dispute aver Humiliation of the Word let me reiterate my profound appreciation for Ellul’s scholarship. Without a philosophy of technology, the religious community stands emptyhanded regarding the mass media. Without a theory of technology, media instruments accommodate the status quo. Devoid of an explicit orientation regarding technology, the church co-opts media for the Great Commission and leaves the remainder--the so-called secular-unattended. A Christian perspective on technology is the north star by which we can set our intellectual compass. Ellul contributesa mighty voice to our technological discourse, an arena where Christians find it difficult to shape the agenda.

Within that favorable pre-disposition, let me deconstruct Humiliation of the Word in the light of communication theory and investigate its possible contribution to mass media studies.

Similar to Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, Ellul’s book is set within an influential line of communication scholarship originating with the Canadian, Harold Innis.[113] This theory presumes that the history of communications is central to the history of civilization, that social change results from media transformations, that changes in communicative forms alter the structure of consciousness. Innis studied the introduction of papyrus, the printing press, radio, and the telegraph-and documented a bias (tendency, propensity, impulse) regarding space and time. Oral communication systems, he argued, are biased toward time, rendering time continuous while making space discontinuous. Print systems, tty contrast, are biased toward space, making geography continuous and breaking time into distinct units. As a minor premise, Innis argued for a monopoly of knowledge, that is, one form of communication tending to monopolize and rendering other forms residual rather than all communications media simply existing innocently alongside one another.

Innis* work on communication technology has been elaborated further by Marshall McLuhan, Elizabeth Eisenstein, Walter Ong, and James Carey. Thus from the introduction of cuneiform writing to today’s fiber optics, media technologies have attracted considerable attention-scholars in the Innis tradition examining all significant shifts in technological form, identifying through them subsequent alterations in culture and in perception. Within this paradigm of bias in communication systems, the intellectual challenge is to identify the distinguishing properties of particular media technologies such as books, cinema, church sculpture, and satellites. As the physicist steps inside the world of atoms, matter and motion to understand them from the inside, the communications scholar, regarding television or magazines or audio cassettes must work deeply into their symbolic properties in order to know them fundamentally and distinctly as their own.

From the viewpoint of this important approach to communication scholarship, Ellul is raising the appropriate questions. His concern with hearing and seeing, with cinema and photography as compared to print, his fascination with the image-indicates a strong analysis located generatively.

Careful readers of Humiliation of the Word will note that Marshall McLuhan is Ellul’s entree to this theoretical framework. He cites McLuhan approvingly on occasion and quarrels only with particular arguments. It ought not be read as merefy an application of McLuhan, but as embodying the larger framework of which McLuhan is a representative. And my allusion to McLuhan enables me to initiate my argument.

McLuhan was Innis’ successor at the University of Toronto. Whereas McLuhan continued the emphasis on the medium, Innis was broadly sociological and historical, and McLuhan intensely psychological in orientation. McLuhan’s notions about visual closure, the sensorium, hot and cool, simultaneity, massage, and so forth, were formulated in narrowly psychological terms. His argument that television as a cool medium is a revolutionary force for global bonding, presumes a host of psychological claims about perception, mental processing of images, tactility, and the nervous system.

It is the uniform judgment of media scholars-pro and con-that McLuhan’s provocative vocabulary and stunning insights about media systems finally turned disastrous. It begged too many questions about our physiological, mental, and psychological apparatus, and claimed more as a lay observer than even the most sophisticated students of the psychological arena could deliver.

Or, in slightly less perfunctory terms, Harold Innis’ comprehensive sociological and historical framework has proved far more penetrating and enduring. By connecting media forms to social organization, power, empire, and bureaucracy, Innis dominated the field persuasively while McLuhan was entertained by Madison Avenue but already lias been relegated to tbe dustbin of academic history.

The history of communication scholarship convinces me that Ellul is making a fatal mistake by orienting his argument around psychological motifs. Ellul’s trademark has always been the social and historical contours, but in this book his references are decidedly McLuhanesque. Chapters 1, 3, 6 make the same overwrought conclusions about perception, consciousness, vision, and hearing that in the literature among communication scholars has yielded few definitive conclusions. With billions at stake in advertising revenue, for example, researchers have attempted to document attitude change and media impact on our psyches with little success. It is profoundly unsatisfying, in my opinion, for Ellul to assemble such a massive range of symbolic material and then locate it on the same frail reed as McLuhan’s.

Again, the overall thesis is sound-about the critical importance of today’s rush toward visual symbols. But the mountain of image data Ellul investigates must be reconstructed in terms of Innis. In The Humiliation of the Word Ellul works his sociological-theological counterpoint. His problematic in chapters 1-6 operates dialectically with his religious concerns of chapter 7-particulariy in terms of the Gospel of John. Again, I am not disputing his counterpoint here, but contending that an Innis-like frame would irrigate the problematic and dramatically strengthen its application to religious life in the twentieth century.

Let me illustrate what I mean. Using a correspondence notion of truth, Ellul writes:

No longer are we surrounded by fields, woods, and rivers, but by signs, signals, billboards, screens, labels and trademarks: this is our universe. And when the screen shows us a living reality-such as people’s faces or other countries-this is still a fiction: it is a constructed and recombined reality.... It produces acute suffering and panic; a person cannot be deprived of truth and situated in fiction (p. 228).

And in McLuhanesque fashion, Ellul draws this speculative conclusion:

The visual world leaves empty places (which usually bore the city dweller when he goes to the country. On the contrary, the sight of mountains or of the ocean is full and fills the eyes). But the universe manufactured by artificial images must keep itself filled up (143).

This line of argumentation is grounded in the assumption that an objective natural reality stands outside knowing subjects to give them a sense of stability. Given this reality which exists independently of our own human creations, the idea of principial truth is at least conceivable. Now that electronic forms of communication have multiplied dramatically and create an alternative environment of images, we have lost our sense of truthfulness altogether. Apparently word forms of communication in oral and print are less ambiguous than the visual, and could feed our understanding of truth by enabling thought processes to function. Instead we are inundated with impressions from visual symbols which dance in anarchy around our mind.

Ellul repeats in this volume an argument he develops more fully in Propaganda, a 1978 essay, and elsewhere. Whereas previous social orders operated with a triad-humansAools/nature, in technological societies nature recedes and humans perceive themselves as living in a technical artifice. We have become aware that we do not exist in nature but in culture.

Man does not any longer live in a natural environment but rather in a milieu composed of the products of his technology.... He can no longer take any significant action without technological intermediation. Technology constitutes an engulfing universe for man, who finds himself in it as in a cocoon.[114]

The communications media represent the meaning-edge of the technological system, the arena where technique’s soul is most clearly exposed. The media exhibit the structural elements of all technical artifacts, but their particular identity as a technology inheres in their function as bearers of symbols. Information technologies thus incarnate the properties of technology while serving as the agent for interpreting the meaning of the very phenomenon it embodies. Ellul calls our communication systems the "innermost, and most elusive manifestation" of human technological activity.[115] All artifacts communicate meaning in an important sense, but media instruments carry that role exclusively. As the media sketch out our world for us, organize our conversations, determine our decisions, and influence our self-identity, they do so with a technological cadence, massaging in our soul a technological rhythm and predisposition. In his scheme, the principle of efficiency which characterizes the technological enterprise as a whole also dominates the communications apparatus; the media do not transmit neutral stimuli, but they integrate us into the system. The mass media have become so powerful, Ellul argues, that congruity with the system is considered normal-even desirable-and we ironically declare that new ideas or alternative worldviews are ideologies or "just propaganda."

I have no fundamental quarrel with Ellul’s contention that we live essentially in a technological artifice in which natural reality recedes. I am convinced also by the argument that mass media form the outermost ring of the technological system and organize the dialectic between humans and the technological order. But to characterize the visual media in Humiliation of the Word as a fictitious system of untrue images, cannot be sustained in terms of communication theory.

In Innis’ historical and sociological orientation, the anchoring mode of communication is oral. Before the invention of the alphabet in 1500 B.C., civilization was exclusively oral, and until the rise of the printing press in the 16th century, human society was predominantly oral. Even today, nearly half of the world’s languages have not been reduced to writing. Ellul puts image and word in contradiction; the word versus the visual is the focus of Ellul’s anafysis. He prefers oral words over print, but given his emphasis on words themselves, he blurs the critical distinction between the verbal and written. Innis would complain that in spite of Ellul’s predisposition toward speech, he fails to recognize how irretrievably and congenitally communication is embedded in sound. Neil Postman, who worries with Ellul about today’s overweening visualization, at least recognizes that the antidote is print. Print media are the best transmitters of linear logic and systematic discourse. While most communication scholars do not agree with Postman’s anti-television bias, he understands accurately the disjunctions among orality, print, and electronic systems.

Oral life is our common property, language spoken and heard God’s gift exclusively to the human species. All normal humans naturally learn to speak and hear; none needs the educational skills for print or the economic means to buy electronic equipment Printed words and electronic images are both derived from speech. The multi-dimensional acoustical world of sound is ear-oriented, and not sight driven (as with print and electronics). In a long footnote on McLuhan (pp. 26-27), Ellul notes the distinction between a communication of hearing and one of sight, but then dismisses McLuhan as erroneous. Ellul misconstrues the issues here and draws the outrageous conclusion that McLuhan’s only illustration of acoustical communication is music. Precisely at this point, Innis’ historical framework keeps our priorities on oral communication and prevents dead-ended speculation whether visual systems are Active, and speech and writing realistic.

In an oralsodety, the referent is another human. The framing device in communication is not natural reality, but humanity. Oral communication creates presence, it binds humans intosocial groups. And oral communication in principle works in the binding mode, whether in exclusively oral, predominantly oral, or residually oral (e.g. our mass-mediated civilization today) social systems. Printed text and electronic images are both secondary forms, actually more similar to each other than either is to orality.

Ellul’s insistence that images are illusory leads him to his well-known rejection of technicism in chapter 7. He warns the church not to sacralize images, but to destroy those visual icons that steer us toward commercialism and efficiency. And such prophetic warnings are pertinent and totally necessary. But chapter 7 finally amounts to little more than urging the religious community to see in the biblical sense of concentrating on the divine invisible, knowing that in the apocalyptic moment such seeing will at last be realized.

A more adequate final chapter would urge the church to concentrate on visual literacy. Granted the church faces a Himalayan task of maintaining its theological vitality while at this historical moment electronic systems gain superior power over print But the buffer for this transformation is training in visual literacy. Presumably Ellul’s point is that a culture overweeningly dependent on electronic imagery needs a critical consciousness; those who are visually literate actually have that capacity, at least in principle. Possessors of the eternal message may only create the dissonance of a foreign language, if they insist on abundant words for addressing visual culture. Speaking prophetically to a visual age requires a visual cadence. If we are willing to make the same educational commitment to school one another in visual systems as we have in print, the world of images will no longer seem like alien territory.

While increasingly the complexities of our age are cast in picture form, that does not mean we cannot comprehend them critically. The visual mind seizes not the minute parts but the story as an organic whole. Visual grammar centers on "a syntax of spatial relationships" with the "goal of achieving a Gestalt, an effectively unified message."[116] The visually literate catch a stream or grasp several images simultaneously. Traffic lights are not mistaken for Christmas decorations and audiences know that cowboys in white hats will save the day. Last year, 1.1 billion books were checked out of American libraries, but 1.2 billion videos were rented. As Ellul would insist correctly, these statistics are not neutral facts, but telling social indicators. Generations are emerging at present which might not be print literate. However, not all are bamboozled, even though our educational system in general and our literacy training in particular have not been reoriented as yet People whose primary means of coherence are visual deserve an adequate framework for developing their visual competence, not dismissed as incapable of reflective thought.

Imagine one million dollars in my hand - a stack of 100 dollar bills four inches high. That is a visual statement. A friend of mine describes his adolescent days as a photograph out of focus, that’s visual imagery. Human cognition can be viewed as a cycle of dawn and dusk-creation and reflection. Or from the poet: "The human heart is a small town where people live." Visual thinking. And Ecclesiastes 12: "Before the silver cord snaps, and the golden bowl is broken at the cistem." The technological artifice which is our modem home creates complexities of an extraordinary sort. The tide is turning relentlessly toward electronic communication, now only dimly understood. It is not dear at this stage what relationships exist between the linguistic, cognitive, and cultural dimensions of a visual text, but film, television, and photography. But why not busy ourselves with the awesom task of understanding their particular grammars, their properties, elements, and systemic features?

The history of communication scholarship convinces me that Ellul draws an erroneous conclusion about fiction and reality, and fails to grasp the nature of oral versus mediated language. His urgent tone and penetrating style at least indicate the seriousness of our current shift to visual technology. But rather than issue tedious ultimatums on the image’s role in our modem malaise, I believe our task centers on enabling visual media to become aesthetically superior. Television and cinema, for example, should be assisted in becoming distinctive popular art. Critical consciousness is our educational mission, regardless of the symbolic forms that dominate a historical period.

Communication theory suggests that we can develop a sense of truthfulness through visual literacy within an environment ofimages. Structural evil remains much too entrenched for breezy sleights of hand. But convictions bom of the Spirit, a ventilated conscience, a morally honed life can flourish within a visual habitat as well as it did on occasion in pre-visual societies. While the overall mass-mediated system seems nearly impregnable, that does not predude the visually literate from living with honor and authentidty. Humiliation of the Word allows that possibility only by default.

Book Reviews

Dancing in the Dark: Youth, Popular Culture and the Electronic Media

by Quentin J. Schultze, Roy M. Anker, et al. Grand Rapids, Ml: William B. Eerdmans, 1991. Paperback, 347 pages.

This book is based on the premise that "most adults have not really considered how they themselves have conspired among themselves, with the electronic media, and with various social institutions to make life increasingly difficult for youth" (p. 2). The authors attempt to investigate how young people, the electronic media and popular culture interact in contemporary North American society.

”Our thesis is that youth and the electronic media today are dependent on each other. The media need the youth market, as it is called, for their own economic survival. Youth, in turn, need the media for guidance and nurture in a society where other social institutions, such as the family and the school, do not shape the youth culture as powerfully as they once did" (pp. 11-12). The book takes a long and detailed look at the history of North American youth culture, how communication technologies have affected the cultural and social environment, the rise of youth culture in the 1950s and 1960s, portraits of rock music, rock videos, music television (MTV), and teenage films. Finally, the authors discuss the role of leisure in contemporary culture and offer guidelines to evaluate the quality and appropriateness of popular art for youth and adults.

The book is an entertaining but sometimes repetitive account of the difficult interaction between youth and adults. Here lies the first problem. Although the authors are at pains to identify youth, reading the evidence for their arguments in the chapters themselves produces the eerie feeling that there is no real distinction. An adult seems to be a youth who has been initiated into the mysteries of sex and work. The transition period, which used to be called adolescence, has been engulfed by the electronic consumer industry for its own profit. The authors comment that "many young people are anchored in a specialised media world, a youth subculture, that gives their lives meaning but at the same time distances them from their own family life" (p. 47). Whi