New book reevaluates the work of theologian Hans Frei

by Joan Fallon

Jason Springs

In his new book Toward A Generous Orthodoxy: Prospects for Hans Frei’s Postliberal Theology, just released by Oxford University Press, Jason A. Springs, assistant professor of religion, ethics and peace studies at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, reevaluates the work of American theologian Hans Frei.

Postliberal theology was a response by American religious thinkers who felt that Christian theology had been compromised by the ecumenism and secularism of the late 1960s, according to Springs.

A founder of postliberal theology who taught at Yale University, Frei coined the term “generous orthodoxy” to describe a theological approach that is both faithful to its own religious commitment — “orthodox” — and engaged in open-ended conversation — “generous” — with other academic disciplines and religious traditions, Springs said.

In this ability to balance theological distinctiveness with interdisciplinarity, “Frei modeled a way for academic theologians to take seriously both their vocation to the church and their roles as interlocutors in academic discourse,” Springs said.

“Jason Springs has done something quite different and original,” writes Jeffrey Stout, author of “Blessed Are the Organized: Grassroots Democracy in America.” “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.”

“Jason Springs’ ‘Toward a Generous Orthodoxy’ is quite simply the best available account of Hans Frei’s work,” writes Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke University. “But this book is more than just an account of Frei; it makes a constructive contribution to theology that is truly remarkable. This is really a terrific book.”

Jason A. Springs earned his doctorate in religion and society from Harvard University. In his research and teaching, he integrates religious ethics with moral philosophy and political and social theories. He is particularly interested in religious tolerance and the challenges posed by religious pluralism for transforming conflict and peacebuilding. Springs has published articles in the Journal of Religious Ethics, Modern Theology, Contemporary Pragmatism and the Journal of the American Academy of Religion.