By Luigi Giussani
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Extra info for American Protestant Theology: A Historical Sketch
5 2 T h e In t e l l e ctual Li fe a n d t h e B e s t- K n own Li terature A fervid intellectual life characterized these groups; many emigrants were academics and men of learning: “They did not travel to the New World in the hope of improving their situation or enhancing their wealth. They tore themselves away from the pleasures of home in obedience to a purely intellectual need. ”6 From the flourishing Puritan colonies of New England, there flowed a truly active contribution of thought, and the course of American theology had begun.
Spencer For Giussani, the only possible unity for such a human religious phenomenology can be a point outside of it, vested in a divine action, namely, Jesus Christ and his sacrifice. Only in that act is our participation in the Kingdom possible. The “aporia” of Niebuhr’s thought is its incapacity to see the Divine apart from its ontological expression in human religious experience. If we are not to confuse this with ourselves, or nature, or some other aspect of existence, it needs an orientation beyond its confirmation in individual experience, in community.
3 In reality, as previously noted, this danger crept in through the same conditionality of the Covenant between God and man that the “federal” theologians of New England understood as a truly binding contract between two parties, as Sibbes defines the “Covenant of Grace”: “It has pleased the great God to enter into a treaty and covenant of agreement with us his poor creatures, the articles of which agreement are here comprised. indb 18 2013-07-31 14:02:04 New England Theology 19 he doggedly opposed in theory: “My Brethren, This is the Way.