Review of Greenman, Schuchardt, and Toly’s latest book “Understanding Jacques Ellul”

ellul croppedCardus has published a review by Bryan Kibbe of Understanding Jacques Ellul by Jeffrey P. Greenman, Noah J. Toly, and Read M. Schuchardt. All three authors are Wheaton College (IL) professors, and the last one, Read Schuchardt, is a Co-founder of Second Nature and the Chairman of its Editorial Board.

Kibbe summarizes their new book:

With this subtle wink to the reader, Greenman, Schuchardt, and Toly signal a central contention in their book: Jacques Ellul has been misunderstood. Ellul was not a Luddite who simply sought to destroy the proverbial textile looms of society; rather he was an expansive thinker whose specifically Christian beliefs and convictions led him to think about and relate to technology (and media, government, the economy, the city, and other major social institutions) in novel and complex ways that defy easy categorization or understanding. According to the authors, we will only understand Ellul’s critique of late-modern society if we appreciate the ways in which his commitment to Christian belief, in particular, informed and shaped the method and content of his life and scholarly work.

Ellul was both a great social thinker and a great theologian, and neither aspect can be disentangled from the other. A strength of Understanding Jacque Ellul is its ability to pull it all together:

The authors of Understanding Jacques Ellul note that, in Ellul’s substantial body of work, there are two main categories of writing: Ellul’s social theoretical works and his theological works. While the theological works explicitly lay claim to Christian belief and frameworks of analysis (such as idolatry, justification, and so on), Ellul’s social theoretical works make little or no explicit appeal to Christianity. […] It is then a strength of Understanding Jacques Ellul that it offers readers a broad survey of Ellul’s writing. […] The authors are thus able to draw attention to the larger conversation that Ellul is carrying out over the course of his writing concerning the difference that Christian belief makes in understanding and living in this present society. […] Ellul never intended his social theoretical works to stand completely apart from his theological works.

Read the full review.

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