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Christ the Key (Current Issues in Theology) Hardcover – 10 Dec 2009


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Review

'Tanner is a fluent, careful writer who has a wide range of historical scholarship at her fingertips, which she deploys with a deft hand to a series of problems besetting modern theology.' Theology

Book Description

Drawing on the history of Christian thought to develop an innovative Christ-centered theology, Christ the Key sheds fresh light on major theological issues such as the imago dei, the relationship between nature and grace, the Trinity's implications for human community, and the Spirit's manner of working in human lives.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8b386f60) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b3c6c78) out of 5 stars Incarnation of God In Christ, the key to Christianity. 24 July 2010
By Richard C. Woodhouse - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just had to write a review of this fine book by Theologian Kathryn Tanner. Its a sequel to her book "Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity". It was in that book that she makes a very understandable presentation of the Apophatic difference between God and everything else. That its a dangerous conceptual error to put God and everything Created on the same level. God is Other and not in competition with Created Reality. This new book focuses on the centrality of Jesus Christ for Christianity. And as a Christian, I feel the center of all Reality. This Christological focus, is something that Christian Theology recovered mostly through the work of the great Swiss Theologian Karl Barth. It seems that most good Christian Theology has worked on spelling out that focus since Barth. "Christ the Key", is about the Incarnation of God. That God took on Human Nature and lived the life we were meant to live, of outgoing love, in the world. I was much helped by Her emphasis on God's taking the load onto himself, of living the life we can't live on our own steam. The first chapter on Human Nature touches on this somewhat. Christianity when its not twisted into its opposite, is all about Grace! Yet people resist that. Human beings hate to be beholden to anything, even benevolence! I think that there is a resistance even to kindness sometimes, because of the implications of it. If we are shown kindness, then we are to some degree obligated to be kind. The Gospel story of the ungrateful servant is a great example of this. He was forgiven a huge debt, yet was terribly unforgiving in a small debt owed to Him. Her Chapters on Grace are worth the price of the book. I loved her repeated emphasis on our need for Grace and that our Human natures are just not up to the task, without the help of God through Christ. She makes the point many times of the vast ontological difference between Us and the Divine Being. We are creatures and Not God and we never will Be at the level of God. This has been made even worse by the Fall of Human beings into Sin. Willful turning away from our source. Of course the age old question at least in my Mind, is how could the work of God, go so wrong? To Me, this is "the" question, that dogs Theology. Another good point she makes is on Desire, specifically, our Desire for God. This is according to her, not a natural disposition of our Human Natures. It comes from the greatness of God. God being God creates the desire in us because of God's greatness and goodness. Well I could go on and on. This book is a book of heavy theogical concepts and it will take repeated reading to understand all she had written. And who's to say that I have understood it? I hope I have. If you are interested in good insightful and thought provoking Christian Theology, then buy this book. Sincerely Richard Woodhouse, Bradford Pa USA.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8cd43048) out of 5 stars What a surprise 27 Jan. 2013
By Walter Mcalister - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Once in a while a recommended book for a course turns out to be a pleasant surprise. Kathryn Tanner's articles are clear, thoughtful and profound. Fine scholarship that will truly add depth to one's understanding of the Trinity. This is an important book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c0c3f30) out of 5 stars This is an important work of contemporary constructive theology. ... 7 Feb. 2015
By Dr Oliver Crisp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is an important work of contemporary constructive theology. If you're interested in contemporary constructive theology, this should be near the top of your reading list. If you prefer flaky, thin theology that is faddish, confused, and inconsequential, you may want to look elsewhere.
5 of 27 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b3cc0d8) out of 5 stars Catholic Bashing in chapter 3 with Hope in chapter 7 4 Nov. 2012
By Brad C. Pape - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tanner devotes chapter 3 to comparing her theology to what she represents as "contemporary Catholic thinking about the relationship between nature and grace" but she never cites the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Catholic teaching on grace and human nature is located between the extremes of her theology and what she represents as Catholic theology. One of her sources is Karl Barth (cited on page 110). Karl Barth said "I could gladly and profitably set myself down and spend all the rest of my life just with Calvin".

Following are Catholic teachings on human nature and God's grace.

CCC 35 Man's faculties make him capable of coming to a knowledge of the existence of a personal God. But for man to be able to enter into real intimacy with him, God willed both to reveal himself to man and to give him the grace of being able to welcome this revelation in faith. The proofs of God's existence, however, can predispose one to faith and help one to see that faith is not opposed to reason.

CCC 153: Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him. Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth.

CCC 161: Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation

CCC 169: Salvation comes from God alone.

Catechism of the Council of Trent chapter viii: But the grace of justification, which signs us with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance, transcends all His other most ample gifts. It unites us to God in the closest bonds of love, lights up within us the sacred flame of piety, forms us to newness of life, renders us partakers of the divine nature, and enables us to be called and really to be the sons of God.

Tanner says (page 118) that humans are so corrupted that we might as well be rocks, as far as appreciating what God originally intended to give us.

Tanner says (page 119) that humans are open to God no more than the way the ocean is open to the pull of the moon. At issue here is a purely passive capacity.

People familiar with TULIP Calvinism will recognize her statements in alignment with the T and I respectively.

The book gets 3 stars because she acknowledges that humans have free will and capacity for self determination (page 1), humans were created for fellowship with one another and God (page 2), and the Trinity (page 3).

People who would like to learn "contemporary Catholic thinking about the relationship between nature and grace" should read
Catechism of the Catholic Church: Second Edition instead of Tanner.

Tanner makes multiple statements about the Holy Spirit working with Jesus and then Christ being the key. Yet, she does not take that truth to its ultimate conclusion. I believe Tanner herself is victim of Protestant Scholasticism and therefore does not recognize the possibilities available to her.

The statement at the bottom of 283 appears to be Tanner's (I am not certain because other times she seems to be speaking rhetorically). If she does accept private revelation then she is on the right track while the volume of ink she gives to the opposing view is mind boggling.

The thesis of the book is hidden on page 296. The Spirit works in much the way God works in Christ. Christ becomes the key to it.

Tanner's observations on page 296 provide the foundation for hope:
1. God does not evacuate the human or push it aside.
2. God does not form in humans competing powers like water and fire that extinguish or evaporate one another.
3. Humanity and divinity are present together in Christ.
4. Lack of competitiveness from God's side is the prerequisite of incarnation.
5. Lack of competitiveness from our side is the prerequisite of the incarnation's point: if we are to be fulfilled by God's intimate relationship with us in Christ then the human cannot require independence from God to be itself.

Tanner seems to assume that those who believe that the Spirit works immediately with individuals are anti-authoritarian (page 277, 278, 285, and 291). While believers will oppose man-made institutes of the Christian religion, there is no opposition to Scripture and no conflict with authority that acknowledges true Church history and the working of God today.
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