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The Relational Theology of James E. Loder

Encounter and Conviction

Series:

Kenneth E. Kovacs

The work of practical theologian James E. Loder, Jr. (1931-2001) deserves a wider audience. For more than forty years, he developed and exercised an interdisciplinary methodology that identified patterns of correlation in the fields of psychology, educational theory, phenomenology, epistemology, and physics, producing a compelling theological vision that centers on the person and work of the Holy Spirit engaging and transforming human life. At his untimely death in November 2001, Loder was the Mary D. Synnott Professor of Philosophy of Christian Education at Princeton Theological Seminary, where he lectured primarily in the areas of human development and the philosophy of education.
This book introduces and examines, explores and untangles the complexity of Loder’s thought in order to make it more accessible to a broader audience. At the core of Loder’s work is a relational phenomenological pneumatology of inestimable value to the theologian engaged in the ongoing renewal of the church. The Christian life is preeminently relational, distinguished by a relationship with God constituted by Jesus Christ, and sustained by the Holy Spirit. Relationality, Loder claims, takes place in and through the life of the Holy Spirit who operates within a complementary relationship with the human spirit, through an analogia spiritus: a profound, transformational interrelation of the Holy Spirit and the human spirit. The Holy Spirit, intimately connected to the person and work of Christ, takes up and extends the work begun in the incarnation by enfleshing the presence of Christ, thus transforming human life. Loder is distinctive for articulating a pneumatology that incorporates ‘how’ the self participates in the relationship and the way the self, through the relationship, comes to have a full knowledge of itself, the world, and God. It is precisely the logic of this Christomorphic dynamic that has extraordinary implications for the way we attempt to fathom the depths and convey the meaning of Christian experience. Loder’s relational phenomenological pneumatology contains rich and principally unrecognized resources for providing new frameworks for the Christian life.

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Loder Bibliography 267

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L O D E R B I B L I O G R A P H Y Works by James E. Loder, Jr. used in this study, listed in the order of publication Doctoral Dissertation “The Nature of Religious Consciousness in the Writings of Sigmund Freud and Søren Kierkegaard: A Theoretical Study in the Correlation of Religious and Psychiatric Concepts.” Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 1962. Books Religion and the Public Schools. New York: Association Press, 1965. Religious Pathology and Christian Faith. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1966. The Transforming Moment: Understanding Convictional Experiences. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981. The Transforming Moment, revised second edition, with an added epilogue and glossary. Colorado Springs, CO: Helmers & Howard, 1989. The Knight’s Move: The Relational Logic of the Spirit in Theology and Science (with W. Jim Neidhardt). Colorado Springs, CO: Helmers & Howard, 1992. The Logic of the Spirit: Human Development in Theological Perspective. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1998. Chapters in Edited Volumes “Sociocultural Foundations for Christian Education,” Marvin J. Taylor, editor, An Introduction to Christian Education. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1966. “The Medium for the Message,” John H. Westerhoff, III, editor, A Colloquy on Christian Education. Philadelphia: Pilgrim Press, 1972. “The Fashioning of Power: A Christian Perspective on the Life-Style Phenomena,” Alexander J. McKelway and E. David Willis, editors, Context of Contemporary Theology: Essays in Honor of Paul Lehmann. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1974. “Developmental Foundations for Christian Education,” Marvin J. Taylor, editor, Foundations for Christian Education in an Era of Change. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1976....

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