WHAT’S NEW IN RELIGION? by Kenneth Hamilton; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1968; 176 pp., $3.95.
The author of this book is professor of Systematic Theology in the Theological Faculty of United College in Winnipeg, Manitoba. His concern in several books he has written is with the new “theologies” which have recently appeared which solemnly avow that “God is dead.” This book deals especially with Bishop John Robinson, who began the current tempest, Paul Tillich, Paul van Buren, Thomas Altizer, William Hamilton, Harvey Cox, Joseph Fletcher and others. He not only discusses their “religious philosophies” but also their ethics, which has come to be known as “the new morality” or “situation ethics.”
The book is a real help in an attempt to understand what these men are trying to say and can well serve as a guide through their dark and labyrinthine writings. One interested inlearning about these men will do well to read the book. But there are weaknesses. For one thing, and most basic, it seems a bit too much to take these men so seriously that an entire book has to be devoted to them. They are atheists, mockers of religion and blasphemers. Ought a Christian to devote an entire volume to them? Secondly, while Bishop Robinson especially claims to be developing the views of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Hamilton claims that Bonhoeffer is being misinterpreted when these atheists appeal to him. While there may be some element of truth in this assertion, our reading of Bonhoeffer leads us to the conclusion that Hamilton is much too charitable in his analysis when he finds in Bonhoeffer one who has something positive to offer to conservative theology. Thirdly, Hamilton’s critique of these men is grounded in philosophical argument and not in Scripture. This is a mistake while there is something correct apologetically in analyzing arguments of unbelievers and even showing where their own argumentation goes astray, the final answer to unbelievers is Scripture. Hamilton does not do this. For an answer from Scripture to these men, one must go elsewhere.