Hans Frei, one of the most influential American theologians of the twentieth century, is generally considered a founder of postliberal theology. Frei never set forth his thinking systematically, and he has been criticized for being inconsistent, contradictory, and insufficiently rigorous. Jason Springs seeks here to offer a re-evaluation of Frei's work. Arguing that Hans Frei's theology cannot be understood without a meticulous consideration of the complex equilibrium of his theological and philosophical interests and influences, Springs vindicates Frei's christologically motivated engagement with Ludwig Wittgenstein, Clifford Geertz, and Erich Auerbach, as well as his use of ordinary language philosophy and non-foundational philosophical insights, while illuminating his indebtedness to Karl Barth's theology. Moreover, by placing Frei's work in critical conversation with developments in pragmatist thought and cultural theory since his death, this re-reading aims to resolve many of the misunderstandings that vex his theological legacy. What emerges from Toward a Generous Orthodoxy is a sharpened account of the christologically anchored, interdisciplinary, and conversational character of Frei's theology, one he came to describe as a ""generous orthodoxy""--modeling a way for academic theological voices to take seriously both their vocation to the Christian church and their roles as interlocutors in academic discourse. ""Jason Springs' Toward a Generous Orthodoxy is quite simply the best available account of Hans Frei's work. But this book is more than just an account of Frei; it makes a constructive contribution to theology that is truly remarkable. I am particularly struck by his observation that Wittgenstein helps us see why we should never abandon the presumption that theological language helps us understand the way things are. This is really a terrific book."" --Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke University ""Hans Frei's hard sayings about the Bible, theology, and the church won him a major following. His critics reject those sayings as obviously false. Jason Springs has done something quite different and original. He has recast Frei's central claims in a way that frees them from paradox. This book will require theologians to rethink the options they have been debating for the last thirty years."" --Jeffrey Stout, author of Blessed Are the Organized: Grassroots Democracy in America ""Springs' careful and intelligent account . . . succeeds in its major ambition: it demonstrates how it is that Frei's work as a whole does indeed cohere, whatever shifts of emphasis and approach might have shaped it. The cultural-linguistic Frei and the Frei of the Gospels' realistic objectivity are one and the same."" --Mike Higton, Pro Ecclesia ""This is the most important commentary on Frei's theology, among numerous article-length and several book-length treatments, produced to date."" --Michael Raposa, Heythrop Journal Jason Springs studied theology, ethics, and philosophy at Princeton Seminary and Harvard University. He held a post-doctoral fellowship in Christian Thought and Practice at Princeton University's Center for the Study of Religion and is now Associate Professor of Religion, Ethics, and Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.
Jason A. Springs is Associate Professor of Religion, Ethics, and Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame. Springs's articles appear in the Journal of Religious Ethics, the Journal for the American Academy of Religion, the Journal of Religion, and Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal. He is the author of Toward a Generous Orthodoxy: Prospects for Hans Frei's Postliberal Theology (2010), and co-author (with Atalia Omer) of Religious Nationalism: A Reference Handbook (2013).