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Paths Not Taken:
Fates of Theology from Luther Through Leibniz

by Paul R. Hinlicky
Eerdmans, 400 pages, $50

Broadly, Hinlicky is on a rescue mission to save theology from modernity. The vacuity of modern theology, a project once described as “giving the atheist less and less in which to believe,” is thoroughly dissected, but Hinlicky does not leave us in a vacuum. He returns the reader to the verge of early modernism, seeking to discover a better path to the present. The course of modern Protestant theology is conventionally traced from Schleiermacher and on through Barth, “and thence into the present state of endlessly aimless fragmentation.” Hinlicky sees a missed alternative: Luther through Melanchthon through Leibniz and Barth. There is something here about the optimism of reason. Paths Not Taken is sometimes wordy, frequently ponderous, but not without significant reward to the reader.