Traces of Liberality: The George Newlands Reprint Series

Traces of Liberality
Series Foreword
The title of this series, Traces of Liberality, attempts to indicate the trajectory of a theological pilgrimage. The series brings together un- der one rubric a series of books, produced over a long period, which have sought to understand in different dimensions a Christian understanding of God as unconditional love, and to spell out the consequences for Christian action in society of that central convic- tion. The concern is for both God and for humanity, for The God of Love and Human Dignity, as the Festschrift produced by kind friends expresses it. It is intended to republish again my books as a connected enterprise under this title as and when this becomes pos- sible, in the hope that readers may be encouraged to take up some of these themes for themselves and take them further. If anything of this ever occurs, the project will have been eminently worthwhile.
In Exegesis and Method in Hilary of Poitiers (1978) I examined the development of the commentary form in the Early Church, (a surprising lacuna in Patristic study) and its implications for the tradition of Biblical interpretation. This led to a reconsideration of the basis of Christian systematic theology as the unconditional love of God in Jesus Christ, which appeared as a monograph entitled Theology of the Love of God (1980). Here concepts of the love of God become the leitmotif for reappraisal of the relationship between creation and redemption.
Some wider implications were developed in relation to ecclesi- ology and to Christian ethics in two shorter studies in a less techni- cal style, The Church of God (1984) and Making Christian Decisions (1985). Again the controlling theme of the love of God is the basis of a re-imagining of traditional dogmatic themes and their practi- cal outputs in ethical decision making. The enterprise of rethinking systematic theology as a constructive hermeneutical envelope was developed on a larger scale in God in Christian Perspective (1994), The basic thrust here is the insistence that the Christian understand- ing of God is a multi-faceted model which draws on Christology and Trinity, faith and practice in community. The vision is widened through engagement with the emancipatory theologies, postmoder- nity, and political theory, while rethinking the underlying framework of the divine love, in Generosity and the Christian Future (1997), the Henson Lectures, 1995.
At this point I was concerned to make explicit a conscious situ- ation of my work with the Scottish liberal-evangelical theological tradition, and was granted first access to the uncatalogued letters and papers of John Baillie. The result was a theological biography of the Baillie brothers, tracing the interaction of their theology within the culture in which they worked, and reassessing their key role in the development of modern Scottish theology (John and Donald Baillie, Transatlantic Theology, 2002).
Pursuing further this trajectory I came to understand an evangelical open theology as a contribution to human flourishing in a Christomorphic dialectical engagement with culture, local and cosmopolitan. The fruits of this investigation appear in The Transformative Imagination--Rethinking Intercultural Theology (2004). This comparative study of theology and culture, through the arts, the sciences, political and human rights issues leads to a recon- ception of the mystery of God in a postfoundational frame. The hu- man rights section of this monograph was then developed, especially through a retrieval of the history of interpretation, through Christ and Human Rights--The Transformative Engagement (2006). There exists little explicit treatment of Christology in relation to rights. Examination of rights reveals tensions, ambiguities and conflicts, constructing a Christology which centres on a Christ of the vulner- able and the margins. The theme was developed in a more universal framework in Hospitable God (2009) with Allen Smith. A selection of essays with a full personal bibliography, Traces of Liberality (2005)
echoes the series title.
Not included in the series are a version of the human rights
study in succinct form in Faith and Human Rights (2008), co- authored with Richard Amesbury, Fifty Key Christian Thinkers (2004) with Peter McEnhill, Believing in The Text (2004) with David Jasper, Scottish Christianity in the Modern World, Essays in honour of A. C. Cheyne (with S. J. Brown, 2000) and an edited group of essays by G. W. H. Lampe (1980).

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