Brimlow, Robert W. 1954–
Brimlow, Robert W. 1954–
Born 1954. Education: Fordham University, B.A.; University of Rochester, Ph.D.
St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY, associate professor of philosophy.
(With Michael L. Budde)Christianity Incorporated: How Big Business Is Buying the Church, Brazos Press (Grand Rapids, MI), 2002.
What about Hitler? Wrestling with Jesus's Call to Nonviolence in an Evil World, Brazos Press (Grand Rapids, MI), 2006.
Robert W. Brimlow is a professor of philosophy and has edited and written books focusing on Christianity. He has covered such issues as nonviolence, facing evil, and Christianity's relationship and interaction with society. For his first book,The Church as Counterculture, Brimlow served as editor with Michael L. Budde. The book features ten essays focusing on philosophical issues facing modern church congregations, such as identity and purpose. The essays also address organizational issues and explore a congregation's role as a countercultural community of disciples following the teachings of Jesus. Its aim is to provide congregations with some guidance on handling modern cultural issues and working within society.
Brimlow collaborated again with Budde, this time as author, in Christianity Incorporated: How Big Business Is Buying the Church. Here the authors focus on modern Christianity's interaction with the world, specifically regarding capitalism and its compatibility with the Christian faith. "Slightly more than half of this book details various instances of what the authors call ‘Christianity Incorporated in action,’" reported Marc D. Guerra in Religion & Liberty. For example, the authors describe how Christian institutions have incorporated the practices and ideologies of businesses whose sole purpose is to make money. They include specific examples, such as Laurie Beth Jones, who founded the Jesus CO Foundation and authored a book focusing on Jesus as the developer and practitioner of a successful management style. Writing in Interpretation, Louis B. Weeks commented that the authors make some salient points, including the fact "that in many ways the Christian church serves as chaplain for nations and corporations … and that the church originally existed to promulgate a gospel quite different!" Richard C. Bayer wrote in Theological Studies: "The book does point out the real dangers of using the Gospel in a crass way for profit and other unworthy secular ends."
In Christianity Incorporated, the authors write about their concerns over corporate exploitation of the church and the threat that it may belittle the church's role in society. Brimlow and Budde also focus on the casualties of capitalism—the poor and disenfranchised—which is a segment of society that Jesus emphasized as needing help. "Rather than provide care for capitalism's causalities, the authors argue that the church should be interrogating the very system that creates such casualties …," wrote Tripp York in Direction. "Instead of functioning in the service of what the authors label the ‘principalities and powers,’ the church should be providing an alternative, genuine means of existence for those who refuse to separate discipleship from their wallets. Christians must envision a different world: a world predicated not upon competition, but on charity."
Christianity Incorporated received good reviews from critics, who noted its value in reminding Christians about some basic tenants of their faith. L. Kriz, writing in the Library Journal, called Christianity Incorporated "a timely wake-up call for Christians who may not realize that their faith is being degraded."
Brimlow is the sole author of What about Hitler? Wrestling with Jesus's Call to Nonviolence in an Evil World. Here he asks a fundamental question pertaining to Christianity: How should Christians react to or battle pure evil? Through a series of personal vignettes, philosophical musings, and writings from the Bible, the author examines a Christian's obligations in reaction to violence and war and ponders whether or not violence is ever a legitimate course of action for a Christian. The author also examines the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor, theologian, and author of The Cost of Discipleship. Bonhoeffer was also a member of the German Resistance and conspired to assassinate Hitler.
"Dr. Brimlow's stark answer will satisfy and frustrate, which perhaps is inevitable if we are to say anything true on this subject," noted Steven P. Millies in the National Catholic Reporter. Ultimately, Brimlow concludes that violence is not an acceptable reaction for those who follow a faith founded on Jesus's teachings emphasizing peacemaking, loving one's enemies, and turning the other cheek. "The Christian call is to love unconditionally, and nothing else," commented Millies, adding: "That uncompromising call means that we ought to be the ‘faithful disciple,’ following Jesus even ‘to our death.’"
Many reviewers praised Brimlow for his examination of a Christian's obligation to avoid violence and whether or not there are ever any "just wars." A Publishers Weekly contributor called What about Hitler? "a lucid and thoughtful analysis that doesn't gloss over or minimize the outrageous demands of the Gospels." Writing in the Christian Century, John D.Roth observed that the author "engages the discussion [of Christian's right to react with violence] in its most emotionally charged form, critically examining the assumptions in just war arguments and peeling back the layers of his own deepest fears."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, November, 2002, C.L. Hansen, review of Christianity Incorporated: How Big Business Is Buying the Church, p. 485.
Christian Century, February 20, 2007, John D. Roth, review of What about Hitler? Wrestling with Jesus's Call to Nonviolence in an Evil World, p. 46.
Direction, spring, 2003, Tripp York, review of Christianity Incorporated, pp. 139-141.
Interpretation, January, 2003, Louis B. Weeks, review of Christianity Incorporated, p. 103.
Library Journal, February 1, 2002, L. Kriz, review of Christianity Incorporated, p. 106.
Modern Theology, October, 2001, Nicholas M. Healy, review of The Church as Counterculture, p. 524.
National Catholic Reporter, May 11, 2007, Steven P. Millies, "Facing the Stark Implication of Nonviolence," p. 15.
Publishers Weekly, January 28, 2002, review of Christianity Incorporated, p. 286; June 12, 2006, review of What about Hitler?, p. 47.
Religion & Liberty, May-June, 2002, Marc D. Guerra, "Rising to the Challenge of Modern Capitalism (Or Not)," review of Christianity Incorporated.
Theological Studies, June, 2003, Richard C. Bayer, review of Christianity Incorporated, p. 448.
Congregational Resources,http://www.congregationalresources.org/ (October 18, 2007), review of The Church as Counterculture.
Department of Philosophy, St. John Fisher College, Web site,http://home.sjfc.edu/Philosophy/ (October 18, 2007), faculty profile of Robert W. Brimlow.
Evangelicals for Social Action,http://www.esa-online.org/ (October 18, 2007), review of What about Hitler?
Mars Hill Audio,http://www.marshillaudio.org/ (October 18, 2007), brief profile of Robert W. Brimlow.