"The one great and telling charge made against Christian religion in the modern period," writes Amos Wilder, "is that it is otherworldly, escapist and irrelevant to the problems of life."
There is a good deal of truth in this charge, Dr. Wilder feels--whether we look at Catholicism or Protestantism, orthodoxy or liberalism. Christianity, in one way or another, has given the impression of being mainly concerned with the next world or with private religious experiences, to the neglect of the needs of men in everyday life.
Here is an answer to the charge. Our common human experience, Dr. Wilder shows, cannot be cut off from its transcendent aspects, but neither can it be cut off from the pressing needs of life here and now.
Dr. Wilder goes into biblical history for his answer. Jesus spoke directly to the social dilemmas of his people. The power of the Gospel in the Roman Empire had much to do with the answer it supplied to the social and cultural cravings of that age. Recent trends in New Testament study exhibit the attacks made then, as now, on false spirituality and theological obscurantism. This is a stirring and impressively documented call to application of the Gospel, to the practical and secular problems of men.
Otherworldliness and the New Testament is alive with flashing insights into a crucial modern theological problem. But it does much more in apprising both the serious thinker and the casual reader of the tangled strands of a complex situation in religious interpretation, as it relates to the arts, to social justice, to religious education, and to many diverse fields.