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Augustine Deformed: Love, Sin, and Freedom in the Western Moral Tradition.

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Augustine Deformed: Love, Sin, and Freedom in the Western Moral Tradition. By John M.Rist. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014. xii + 420 pages. $36.99.

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 November 2017

William J. Collinge*
Mount St. Mary's University, MD


How did we arrive at “the systematically anti-Christian, indeed anti-religious, world-view which most opinion formers of the Western Establishment now profess” (6)? Several major studies in recent years have challenged the default position that this is simply the inevitable result of the progress of science, and have instead argued for the importance of contingent historical factors that could have gone otherwise. Notably, Brad Gregory's The Unintended Reformation argues that the Reformation and the doctrinal “hyperpluralism” and religio-political conflicts to which it gave rise ultimately led to modern Western secularism, moral subjectivism, and consumer capitalism. John Rist's Augustine Deformed now joins the ranks of those studies. Rist, professor emeritus of classics and philosophy at the University of Toronto, expresses much agreement with Gregory but faults him for failing to reach back to the early medieval period—in fact, to Augustine—for the causes of our present “intellectual, moral and cultural nihilism” (4).

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Copyright © College Theology Society 2017 

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1 Gregory, Brad, The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2 Faye, Emmanuel, Heidegger: The Introduction of Nazism into Philosophy in Light of the Unpublished Seminars of 1933–1935, trans. Smith, Michael B. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009)Google Scholar.