Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 1 (Winter 2015) - Page 85

VOLUME 11, NUMBER 1 A JOURNAL FOR THE THEOLOGY OF CULTURE today? What if his insight into the materiality of the divine is what the world today most needs to hear? And what if Christian unity can be achieved by recovering the physical power and presence of the divine? (8–9) Readers desiring to understand the different flavors of Mormon theological speculation in the context of traditional Catholic and Protestant theologies will find this book extremely valuable. Aiming at the educated nonspecialist, Webb’s book is an intriguing historical primer of the development of Christian thought about the nature and purpose of God and man. He unequivocally includes Mormon theological thought as fully Christian, especially in light of his view that many devout early Christians correctly believed as the Mormons do that God and his son, Jesus Christ, are material persons living within—not outside—time and space. Throughout this book, Webb, a Roman Catholic convert from a Protestant tradition, provides historical exegetical support for his constructive materialist theology that affirms the material body of Jesus was not a temporary divine downgrade but, in fact, a manifestation of the eternal material nature of God. Whatever matter is, whatever spirit is, they are manifestations of the same stuff. This lets Webb gracefully employ twentyfirst-century science of physics and mathematics to allow for a coherent theory of “divine matter” within quantum space-time. Although Mormon Christianity is written for the general educated audience, theologians will be enthralled by the historical and constructive Christian theology. Stephen Webb is an erudite religious historian and comparative theologian seeking to coherently explain how the person, Jesus of Nazareth, was a material, bodily person before, during, and after his earthly sojourn. Webb believes that Christians took a wrong theological turn during the early centuries when, pondering how Jesus could be God and human, the mainstream decided that any form of matter was an impossible limitation on the omnipresent, omnipotent Creator. They and Aquinas centuries later concluded an immaterial God stooped temporarily into material mud through Jesus Christ—to rescue and purify sullied humanity. Webb believes the Hellenization of Christian theology consolidated in Augustinian (and later Calvinist) ontological dualism offered the wrong way to differentiate the perfect Father in Heaven from humanity. The metaphor of God, the sovereign king without peers, became the fixed and final truth of Immaterial Mystery, a non-moved mover that somehow, simply, created and became involved in space-time. Webb rejects theological immaterialism with this logic: Jesus was God and material, and Jesus was so before he was born 84