The Character of God: Recovering the Lost Literary Power of American Protestantism

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It is a truism that modern theology is mostly dull and irrelevant to religious life. In this book, Thomas Jenkins maintains that theology became boring because the depiction of God as a character in theology became boring. To a large extent, theologians have fashioned the character of God according to their own notions of character, and especially from notions derived from contemporary literature. In the early 19th century, American theologians depicted God in terms of the serene benevolence of neoclassicism, and the effusive sympathy of sentimentalism. These styles persisted in theology long after they lost favour in the larger culture, where the romantic character had come to be seen as most admirable and interesting. Jenkins considers why it proved difficult for theologians to adopt a romantic characterization of God, and how this hurt theology.