Diagonal Advance argues for a radical revision of Christian thinking about the purpose of human life. Perfection is neither a vertical drop from the divine, nor a horizontal progression through social and personal development. Rather, it is a diagonal advance into the divine perfections through the perfecting of material culture. This vision is, the author argues, in line with the account of human ends that emerges from the Greek and Hebrew background, in the New Testament and in the classical Christian era. When the late medieval and early modern writers of theology and literature begin to name the problem differently, the classical vision is distorted, so that human perfecting and the divine perfections have little to do with one another. Through a critical engagement with contemporary texts, concluding with a dramatic revision of the Prometheus mythology, the author argues for a renewed diagonalizing of Christian perfection.
Endorsements & Reviews-
"Perfection is a crucial theme in the New Testament that lurks in much patristic thinking and was first foregrounded by the Wesley brothers. "Within their tradition, and yet transcending it, Tony Baker provides us with the most sophisticated theological treatment of this topic to date--ranging over the Bible, philosophy, literature, and cultural history with a distinctive elan. He shows in particular how the loss of the metaphysics of participation was equally a loss of a sense of our relationship with God as a progress in perfection that was as much vertical as it was horizontal. "This book is as close to perfection as one could hope for." --Catherine Pickstock, Reader in Philosophy and Theology, Fellow and Tutor of Emmanuel College, Cambridge
"I am a Methodist which means I have never trusted the language of perfection. So I am in Anthony Baker's debt for reclaiming the notion of perfection. This is a wonderful book that is not only sound scholarship but is morally profound." - Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics, Divinity School, Duke University
Anthony D. Baker
Anthony D. Baker is the Clinton S. Quin associate professor of systematic theology at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. His courses and publications focus on the theological vision of human life.