Theology and the Disciplines of the Foreign Service
The World's Potential to Contribute to the Church
By Theodore L. Lewis
Foreword by Stanley Hauerwas
Reviewed by David W. Virtue DD
August 1, 2015
I have met few men who have brought together two high level careers -- one secular and one sacred - so effectively with a sense of accomplishment, fulfilment and flair as the Rev. Ted Lewis.
In the course of Lewis' career, first in the US Foreign Service--spanning twenty-nine years including tours of duty in Vietnam, Pakistan, the DRCongo, and Korea--he came upon many significant links with theology particularly in the writings of Karl Barth and Emil Brunner, heroes of Fr. Lewis when he later became an Episcopal priest.
This is not abstract thinking; it is real life immersion in the harsh Realpolitic of Washington illuminated by real world experience outside of Washington, at the same time trying to see it all through the lens of natural theology.
This is a memoir but it is more than that. Lewis was sent hither and yon by the State Department with a family (which eventually broke up under the pressure) at all times witnessing to his Christian faith and Anglican heritage. This could be described as "narrative theology," something unique in that he is telling the story through his rough and tumble diplomatic life.
It is not always easy to see the links he makes. They might not convince all who read the book, but it is a story of God bringing good out of human tragedy.
The book reaches a high point near the end when he draws together the implications of these links for natural theology, which deals with how theology ought to relate to the world--and this is of prime importance for both theology and the world.
Lewis draws on the work of the Holy Spirit operating at Pentecost that can bring together the secular with the theological, the academic with the human. In ways that I have not seen in other books, Lewis breaks new ground. In particular, it makes clear the vital contribution that Foreign Service and other craft disciplines can and should make to the restoration of the church and to the advent of a new Pentecost.
This book is about links, it is about how Lewis as a Foreign Service career diplomat discovered these disciplines and theology.
In the course of his travels, he was exposed to churches of the Global South, which gave him an orthodox perspective and prepared him for The Episcopal Church's ecclesiastical and theological gyrations. He has stayed faithful to his calling and has gone back to many of his old diplomatic haunts as a faithful priest.
Following his Foreign Service retirement, Lewis turned to theological study and writing, privileged by connections with Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University, and the Duke Divinity School. He presently engages in parish ministry and is theologian in Residence at All Saints', Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Alister E. McGrath, Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK called the book, "a fascinating account of a remarkable theological voyage of discovery, bearing a powerful witness to both the intellectual delight of theology as a discipline, and to the perspicuity and perseverance of its author." I could not have said it better.
This book can be purchased at Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/oyltrwr
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