Top Ten Theological Works of the 20th Century?

Henry Karlson at Vox Nova has offered a list of the top ten theological works of the 20th century, “based upon either their influence or the value I see they should have for the future of theology.”

Here is his list:

  • 10. Henri de Lubac, Catholicism.
  • 9. Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology.
  • 8. Gustavo Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation.
  • 7. Sergius Bulgakov, Bride of the Lamb.
  • 6. Karl Rahner, The Trinity.
  • 5. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship.
  • 4. Pavel Florensky, Pillar and Ground of the Truth.
  • 3. Hans Urs von Balthasar, Theo-Drama.
  • 2. Henri de Lubac, Mystery of the Supernatural.
  • 1. Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics.

The only serious mistake in this list has to be the Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation.  I wouldn’t point that out except for the fact that Henry used the word “should” in his sentence about the influence on and value of these works for the future of theology.

There’s no way Gutierrez can be recommended for the future of theology, given what he has already visited on the past and the present — a Marxist conception of history, human nature, and value itself. 

The rest of the list is pretty good, and I really appreciate the inclusion of Barth, though I would make the #1 slot a tie between the Church Dogmatics and von Balthasar’s Glory of the  Lord, not his Theo-Drama.

I’m also glad Henry remembered Tillich’s Systematic Theology which I read as an undergraduate and helped to lead me toward the Christian faith.

Two books from Henri de Lubac may be pushing it a bit, especially when the list contains nothing by John Paul II, Benedict XVI, Anders Nygren (Agape and Eros), Yves Congar, Jean Danielou, Louis Bouyer, Wolfhart Pannenberg, etc.

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Deal W. Hudson is ​publisher and editor of The Christian Review and the host of "Church and Culture," a weekly two-hour radio show on the Ave Maria Radio Network.​ He is the former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.

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