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Positive Negatives

A Motif in Christian Tradition


Crerar Douglas

Building on the ethical monism of Augustus Hopkins Strong, Positive Negatives develops a new theory of Christianity as a dualistic non-dualism. In depicting the conflict between good and evil as a dualism (in which contraries are antithetical), Christianity draws on the ancient symbols of literary comedy, while, in depicting all other polarities as dualities (in which contraries are complementary), Christianity draws on tragic symbols. As an effort to liberate duality from dualism, Christianity incorporates tragic, non-dual motifs (with similarities to Far Eastern traditions) in its dualistic, Near Eastern narrative of God's comedic triumph over evil. Arguing that its theory gives new insights into the relation between Renaissance poetry and Reformation theology, the book includes a case study of Richard Hooker and Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, along with discussions, in a comparative-religions context, of Augustine, al-Ghazali, Luther, Karlstadt, Calvin, A.H. Strong, H. Richard Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, Keiji Nishitani, Gadjin Nagao, Northrop Frye, and Thomas F. Torrance.
Contents: A New theory of Christianity as a dualistic non-dualism which paradoxically transforms the ancient dialectic of tragedy and comedy. Focusing on the relation between Reformation theology and Renaissance literature, the book includes discussions of the Reformers and Shakespeare in a comparative-religions context.