Charles E. Curran (review date 19 March 1971)
SOURCE: A review of The Church as Moral Decision Maker, in Commonweal, Vol. XCIV, No. 2, March 19, 1971, pp. 43-4.
[In the following review, Curran states that although the material in Gustafson's The Church as Moral Decision Maker is a bit dated, the church needs "the type of careful, reflective, analytic moral discourse which Gustafson handles so well."]
This slim volume [The Church as Moral Decision Maker] gathers together eight previously published essays by James M. Gustafson which are now grouped together around the two general themes of the church in society and moral perspectives on the church.
The subject matter of the essays is somewhat dated; for example, the first essay on Christian attitudes towards a technological society originally appeared over ten years ago. Since then there has been much theological discussion about technology and secularity. Likewise the essays on the church do not propose any radical new types of church community but rather assume that churches will continue to exist in the future much the same as they were a few years ago. One would never come away from reading this book with the impression that the church is experiencing any real crisis today.
This book does not attempt to suggest radical reforms in the church. No one would ever include these essays in any "futuristic symposium" on the church in the next century or even the church in the '70s. There are no sweeping criticisms of the present and no prophetic blueprints for the future, but this book does make a significant contribution to the discussion, if only to remind us of the continuing need for careful analysis in our discourse about the church and society.
In these essays Gustafson carefully pursues his critical analysis of the church as a voluntary association and of the society in which we live. The scholarly, analytical and...
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