According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Phase III: Christianity's Journey from Modern to Postmodern Theology

 
Bellagio Fountain, Bally's and Paris Casinos, Las Vegas, Nevada

 
The "acids of modernity..."
 
- Walter Lippmann' 1929 essay "A Preface to Morals"
 
 
"Corrosion is an apt metaphor for the effects of overblown
certainty, legalism, inerrancy, and the insistence on
surely knowing everything. It can eat you alive."
 
- anon
 
 
As part of my conscious review of all things modern and postmodern in the Christian faith my friend Roger Olson has recently written a book on the influences of modernity upon the Western culture. For the past several years Relevancy22 has made a concerted effort to speak to the deficiencies of modernity's influences upon all things Christian - whether to our Christian faith, our reading of the Bible, our understanding of God, ourselves, our church, or even our ministries and missional callings.
 
As an offset, we have here offered a postmodern Christianity that attempts to move past modernity's constricting structures in attempts to tell of a faith that is post-secular, post-foundational, and post-structural. Many articles have been written to speak to what a postmodern Christian might look like if based upon a broader, more liberal perspective of thought and theology. Hence, topics have covered progressive ideas in hermeneutics, philosophy, science, and theology, to name a few in attempts to distinguish to the modernist Christian mindset a broader, more expansive form of Christianity that might embrace a less harsh, less judgmental, fuller perspective of faith, ministry, and mission.

To that end we have actively explored a Bible and faith that allows for multi-vocality of biblical narration, cultural pluralism, multi-ethnicity, scientific and hermeneutical criticism, the presence of paradox and mystery, personal revelatory existentialism (sic, the Spirit of God at work within us, our calling and ministry), and an epistemological re-orientation gained from today's postmodernal reactions to modernity's Western cultural influences. Thus, we've here described what an emergent, postmodern Christianity might look like; how to accept and utilize postmodern scientific discoveries; how to interpret religious surveys and postmodern movements both in our culture as well as in non-Western cultures that are uniquely different from our own; how to react to economic and political statements in a world filled with conflict and brokenness; how God and the Bible are much larger than our own modernal ideas constricting sociological structures; and so forth.

Part of this more recent effort to think through postmodernity's newer perspectives for the Christian faith was recently begun in a digest of articles presently being developed under Phase III of this blogsite. Here I wish to further break down modernity's philosophical reach by repositioning Continental Philosophy's postmodernal influences through a Radical Theology that returns the Christian faith to its apocalyptic roots set amid a theology of weakness (which, in the Kingdom parlance of reversals, means that such a weakness would be paradoxically overwhelming to the breaking of everlasting sinful bonds). Even as this present effort of thought and prayer is still in its formation as I write of it, I would ask for an openness of mind-and-heart by my readers knowing that my conservative background and roots have been in a constant turmoil of self-discovery and cultural re-awakening since beginning this blog journey several years ago. And so, any modernal fears of Continental Philosophy would be better shelved and reconsidered as a more helpful subject that might offset our own, more rigorous, Western individualism and excluding ideologies. Especially as set against any emerging, postmodern, Christian re-awakenings when explored through postmodern theological and philosophical research and perspective.

Assuredly, I feel a deep obligation to pay attention to Christianity's more recent roots as expressed within the past 500 years of church history. To not only pay attention to good doctrine as set forth by church decree, but to also pay attention to church decrees that have limited our Christian faith from seeing God and understanding His Word from His perspective rather than our own filtrations (or selective readings) of it. As such, a broadly flexible, expansive, and non-limiting philosophical hermeneutic might allow for this newer kind of outlook as compared to the modernal, Evangelic hermeneutic I had grown up with.... A doctrinaire that lamentably became excluding to science, preferential towards preferred "Christian" Westernized beliefs, preferential towards Reformed thinking and syllogistic debate, calling for enforceable religious boundaries (such as career firings from seminaries or removal from the church pulpit), and reinforced by spurious church folklore couched within assenting congregational agreement. Perhaps the prophets of the Bible were not unlike the prophetic theologians of today who walked the earth alone, chastised and ignored by those who disputed God's living Word when spoken by the Spirit through the pales of mortal flesh. Nor by forward-looking theologians alone, but by every lip-and-tongue that languishes under the sin's oppression before the tyranny of unloving, uncompassionate, unforgiving religious belief - including that of remorseless demagoguery - regardless of denominational faith or world religion.

Therefore, we wish to rightly distinguish how Christianity has changed over the eras of man from its even older roots found within the pages of the New Testament - even as the NT itself was built upon the more ancient pages of the older Old Testament. Thus, I am not bothered to critique, or throw off, any Reformational (or Calvinistic) doctrines should they not be more biblically oriented than as it was first developed under the lingering Greek influences of Aristotle and Plato. This was known to the Early Church as Greek Hellenism (sic, a syncretism of Greek culture with that of the Semitic); and within the early-to-late Medieval eras as under the aforesaid Aristotelian and Platonic influences of Medieval Scholasticism as summarily re-worked under Thomas Aquinas' studious pen. Following these significant periods of plague, illiteracy, conflicts, and medieval kingdom came the era of the Renaissance's arising enlightenment, and along with it, the church's rebirth under the Reformational influences of Luther and Calvin (amongst others) who would lay down any future philosophical foundations of incipient modernity. Knowing of these historical developments, it may be too simplistic to seek a discerning Christian faith more rooted in past Jewish perspective knowing that even in Jesus' day He too spoke within Hellenism's dominating Greek influences. (That is, Jesus made cultural adaptations to His message of redemption even as Paul would in his missionary travels throughout the Roman Empire).

But even so, was not the Old Testament constructed by its ancient authors within the religious, socio-economic, and political influences of the more ancient Sumerian, Assyrian, and Babylonian (Persian) cultural beliefs of their day? Let us not then be so ignorant to the fact that we must each speak and live out our faiths within this world's cultures, philosophies, attitudes, and platitudes.... Sorting out the good from the bad, the legitimate from the illegitimate, the helpful from the debilitating, as we weigh out God's Word to what we think we know and observe in humble obedience.... So then, what does this mean for us today in light of God's revelation and revelatory presence in our midst by His Spirit, His cosmos, His Word, and church?

That like the prophets and theologs of yore, we may also speak God's Word to the generations of our time in discernment and in spiritual wisdom. To some we speak words of enlightenment; to others words of healing; and yet to others words of death and cessation. Thankfully, postmodernity has been in formation for some time (as early as the 19th century) but has more recently been embraced since the early 1970s under the Jesus and Vineyard movements; the calls to church reform in the 80s; the early Emergent church movements of the 90s; the restyling of church worship and message in the 2000s; and even now in updated discussions of scientific assimilation to biblical doctrine (think of the Catholic Church's "rope-a-dope" doctrinal mind-benders when confronted by Copernicus and Galileo's concurring discoveries of our solar systems heliocentrism!). Moreover, postmodernism had by now made the church seriously aware of its secularism. But rather than despair, as the political commentator Walter Lippmann did after studying the ill-affects of World War I upon society, asserting that the church should discard its religion for the religion of humanism, a postmodern Christian sees all the enlightenment that has come from this movement and excises it towards the Christian message of hope and reconstruction. As Jesus-following Christians we do indeed agree with Lippmann that the church must throw out the affects of religion from its faith even as we hold onto faith's assurances amidst modernity's humanism and postmodernity's flight to post-humanism. The answer isn't in humanism, nor in neo-humanism, but in Jesus, and all the paradox and conflict that He brings to our Christian faith as we try to discern it against the ages of man and all that man's turmoil brings with his largesse.

Which also means that we are free to reconstruct (or promote) a more progressive, enlightening form of philosophy that might more helpfully critique our past even as it might help us to re-construct our Christian faith and church doctrines (sic, the ideas of deconstruction and reconstruction as found in postmodernism, even as God does the same in our lives casting out sin and bringing love's redemptive healing). By utilizing the academic labor of ANE biblical scholars, the ceaseless research of postmodern philosophers and scientists, and even by listening to the observations and complaints of agnostics and atheists, we might better distinguish the shortcomings of our well-meaning, Christianized cultural perspectives in order to better approach the God of biblical faith. A God whom we truly cannot know except through His incarnational presence through the Jesus of the NT who set forth God's rule of love against His animosity to religion's idols found in our works of self-righteousness and religious legalism. Though the Pharisees and Scribes of the NT believed they knew God, His Word, and His will, even so did Jesus say that by their very faith, and works, they were dead. Unseeing and blind. Lepers that led God's sheepfolds to certain destruction. Who killed the Son of God but could not kill the Risen God nor His follower's resurrected faith. Yet even now, God so works His divine will within the moiling masses of mankind - making it known both to the seeing un-believer and the un-seeing believer alike (remember, we live in an upside-down, inside-out Kingdom of reversals that would defeat our magistrates of knowledge and faith). No man, church doctrine, nor miscreant theolog may defeat God's restless spirit of renewal and proclamation.

What I take from all this is that we must hold onto a healthy reserve of doubt about ourselves and our beliefs while becoming more open to God's movement of His Spirit within this profound postmodern era we live within. That today's Christian faith and interpretive theology is as open now as it was for Abraham, David, John, or Paul. That we are allowed to think of our Creator-Redeemer God in more expansive forms than we currently have limited ourselves to as set within our cultural boundaries and limiting regional (if not temporal!) perspectives. That we may mitigate all past doctrinal creeds and confessions to scientific discoveries and advancement without rapprochement; even as we would submit our theological beliefs to God's overriding decrees of love and goodwill to exclusionism's unwanted, and hateful, discriminations (think homosexuality, gender, and race inequalities here).

That we might learn to speak to one another in tones of uplift, reassurance, truth, and community, without fear of violating the self-righteous doctrines of man as set forth by unloving, ill-timed church charters should they come into conflict with God's broader divine authority. No, we are not saying that there is no sin to be found in man. Assuredly there is, and it lives well and high upon the feast tables of the self-righteous and unrepentant. But to the despised and ill-regarded amongst us who are humble of heart, and hungry for God's healing presence and personal restoration, know that God's love and forgiveness will be their first master against our own unforgiving hearts, however it is played out upon the church dockets and public presses. God's Spirit will not be defeated. But if we do, we do to our own certain destruction which would bind and enslave our souls to death's benighted strongholds and hell's bounded deeps.

Not unlike the carousel's of this wicked world, we must know when to get off, and not be misled by its withering dawns. But to discern our unenlightened past and there realize that our future is brightly open. That our faith is as boundless as the blue-studded skies above our heads. That our missional calling made more powerful when accompanied by the graceful dresses of love's remit. That we might embrace all that seeks God to His great delight. To preach Christ crucified as our humble Savior-Redeemer. To overfill the church with God's apocalyptic Kingdom presence come suddenly upon us. A presence that is weak, humble, believing, resurrected, hopeful, sacrificial, serving, and spiritually alive. To know that our most recent journey in modernity has ended if by nothing else than by the bloody, torn, evil World Wars, regional conflicts, and terrorism of our past global history. And that our formidable journey towards a kind of radical postmodernity even now begins. Yeah, let the church be biblical... but let it also be visionary in its spiritual quest for revolution... and no longer withholding from cultural irrelevancy like a fly stuck on glued paper. Know that God will surely dissettle us even as He did when He called Abraham to follow Him from Ur's safe fleshpots. Or the Shepherd-King David's learned obedience. Or the beggarly prophet's ignored messages to repent and obey. God is not in the business of making us comfortable. Keep to this knowledge even as we, the church, face humbly in the Spirit's grasp turmoil's heightening revelations yet to come. "Even so Lord Jesus, rain down on us." Amen and amen.
 
R.E. Slater
August 29, 2013
 
* * * * * * * * * *
 
 
Modernity and Christianity
Part 1

Part 2

Those things happened forty years ago. Since then I have immersed myself in the study of modernity and modern theology (or perhaps it should be “modern theology-ies” as there is no one modern theology).

I certainly don’t agree with my youth pastor and camp evangelist friend that merely reading a modern theologian corrupts a person. However, my study of 1960s radical theologies, including especially the various “death of God theologies,” convinced me that, modernity, taken to an extreme, taken to its logical conclusion, embodied certain impulses strongly inimical to authentic Christianity, to the gospel itself. What I have found in modern theologies is a series of sometimes bold, sometimes lame, sometimes intriguing, sometimes disgusting attempts to merge, integrate, accommodate modernity with and to Christianity and vice versa.

Of course all this begs the question “What is ‘authentic Christianity?” In my immediately preceding post I described how I regard modernity—its basic impulses, tendencies and trajectories. Here I will layout briefly, wholly inadequately, I’m sure, how I regard authentic Christianity as a worldview, as a blik, as a  life-and-world perspective. Yes, to be sure, it’s more than that, but it includes that. If Christianity is compatible with any and every view of reality it is meaningless. While we must not inflate the cognitive aspect of Christianity to the whole of it, neither should we minimize it to the point where it is endlessly flexible.

Here, due to limitations of time and space, I will focus on one point of an authentic Christian worldview that raises problems for modernity and vice versa—belief in the supernatural.

The word “supernatural” sends shudders down many Christians’ spines and makes their skin crawl. I understand that. Like “awesome” it has been over used so much and so wrongly that it seems almost useless. But I can’t discard it. Authentic Christianity necessarily includes belief in the supernatural in the sense of acts of God that transcend anything explainable by scientific reason alone. One example, the crucial and obvious one, is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many modern theologians, allergic to anything supernatural (because they think it contrary to science), have “reinterpreted” the resurrection of Jesus Christ as an existential experience of faith (Bultmann and Tillich). They regard the resurrection appearances reported in the gospels as “visions.” Bultmann spoke for many modern theologians when he said (paraphrasing) “We know dead men do not rise.”

I do not think authentic Christianity includes gullible belief in every supernatural story that emanates from a seemingly spiritual source (e.g., popular books and television testimonies). But I do think belief that God raised Jesus from the dead such that the tomb was empty is part and parcel of authentic Christianity. Modernity inclines against that. Swallowed whole, modernity tends to force one to reinvent Christianity such that it does not include any miracles or supernatural events even interpreted as special acts of God insofar as they are in principle unexplainable by scientific methods and means.

The impulse I’m talking about in modernity is “naturalism”—an inclination to be skeptical of anything, including Jesus’ resurrection or ours, that is in principle beyond science’s ability now or ever to explain.

But, of course, not all modern Christian theologians have gone so far. Some have pushed back against naturalism and attempted to rescue belief in the supernatural (even if they don’t like the term) by various means.

I studied under German theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg in Munich who is famous for pushing back against Bultmann and the whole existentialist, “demythologizing” approach to the New Testament and Christianity. Pannenberg is most definitely “modern” in some regards while not swallowing modernity hook, line and sinker. His modernity shows especially in his epistemology which, even though not foundationalist, is rationalistic. He does not believe truth should ever be based on special revelation and faith alone; in order to be considered truth it must be publicly verifiable using the ordinary (modern) canons of rationality.

The range of accommodations to modernity by modern theologians is vast—all the way from the deepest accommodation, wholesale sell-out by 1960s radical theologians and their contemporary followers (such as Don Cupitt), to conservatives who don’t realize they are accommodating to modernity when they emphasize propositional truth as the [truest] form of revelation (Paul Helm) and biblical inerrancy as essential to Christianity.

My conclusion is that modernity represents something new in human history—new as of modernity’s birth in the later 17th century and especially its pinnacle in the eighteenth century. That something new is a secularized view of reality—the idea that life can be lived successfully without any reference to anything spiritual beyond what is discoverable by science.... Hellenistic culture, the Greek-inspired “blik,” was not wholly congenial to Christianity, but at least it included belief in a spiritual reality beyond the physical and its governing laws. Plato’s philosophy, Aristotle’s philosophy, neo-Platonism, even Stoicism believed in a spiritual reality beyond complete human comprehension and control.

The secularizing impulse in modernity has forced Christianity and religion in general into a defensive posture. Too seldom have Christian intellectuals gone on the offensive with strong arguments against modernity’s secularity. One reason I appreciate John Caputo, in spite of thinking he is not wholly consistent, is his scathing scorn aimed at the over-reaching rationalism of modernity. Postmodernity has opened doors for taking religion seriously that modernity tried to close.

In sum, I consider modernity, taken to its logical conclusion, inimical to authentic Christianity. Christian theology’s various attempts to escape its threat by radical revisioning of Christianity, especially de-supernaturalizing it, were, I believe, misguided. Only a few theologians really rose to the challenge and defended authentic Christianity in the face of modernity without retreating into pre-modern obscurantism. They include especially (and they are my heroes for this reason) Karl Barth among Protestants and Hans Urs von Balthasar among Catholics. Neither can be accused of obscurantism. Both saw modernity as inimical to authentic Christianity without retreating into an escapist anti-modernism that failed to wrestle with it.

What is needed is a form of Christian life that preserves the essence of Christianity (not redefined and reduced so that it cannot conflict with modernity), including belief in supernatural acts of God, past and present, and at the same time takes the cultural changes modernity has introduced seriously. Such a form of Christian life would:

1) value and encourage critical thinking without reducing truth to what autonomous human reason can discover unaided by the Spirit of God or His Word],

2) believe in and look for supernatural acts of God in persons’ lives without miracle mongering [that is, God's supernatural acts is how God normally communicates with people, even as we communicate with him by our life's witness and activity; this communication between the Father and His church, between His son and daughter with His Spirit is not deemed strictly as a miracle even though its sum and activity is miraculous. As it were, it falls more along the lines of God's providence and even must be considered as part-and-parcel salvifically with that of our redemption through Jesus and by His Spirit. - res]

3) allow the biblical narrative to “absorb the world” without withdrawing from modern discoveries and contributions,

4) value science without idolizing it, and

5) embrace those aspects of postmodernity that re-open the doors of the spiritual without rushing into relativism.


 

Roger Olson, "The Journey of Modern Theology: From Reconstruction to Deconstruction"

 
 
Book Promotion
 
by Roger Olson
August 25, 2013

What’s a blog for if one cannot use it to promote his books? The new InterVarsity Press catalog (“New Title Announcement/Winter 2014″) has just been published. It includes (on page 28) my forthcoming magnum opus The Journey of Modern Theology: From Reconstruction to Deconstruction which will actually be about 710 pages in length (scheduled for publication in November). It’s a radical revision of Stan Grenz’s and my 20th Century Theology: God and the World in a Transitional Age published in 1992. I would say this is a whole new book as you can tell by comparing the two books’ tables of contents. Some of the subjects are the same (e.g., Schleiermacher, Barth, and Tillich) but the chapters about them have been completely rewritten.
 
Below I paste here the book’s Table of Contents for your perusal. But please go to amazon.com and read the four outstanding recommendations of the book by leading theologians including Francis Schussler Fiorenza (Harvard) and Veli-Matti Karkkainen (Fuller). This book is the culmination of years and years of study and teaching modern theology–from the Enlightenment to postmodern theology. The organizing theme is “Christian theological responses to modernity.” In each chapter I discuss how the theologian or movement under consideration responded to the “acids of modernity” (which I explain in the first chapters).

Table of Contents

Preface.…………………………………………………………………………………………
Introduction.……………………………………………………………………………………
1. Modernity Challenges Traditional Theology: the Context of Early Modern Theology……
1.a. Science Revises the Heavens………………………………………………………………..
1.b. Philosophers Lay New Foundations for Knowledge………………………………………..
1.c. Deists Create a New Natural Religion………………………………………………………
1.d. Critical Philosophers Limit Religion to Reason…………………………………………….
1.e. Realists, Romanticists and Existentialists Respond………………………………………..
2. Liberal Theologies Reconstruct Christianity in Light of Modernity…………………………
2.a. Friedrich Schleiermacher Launches a Copernican Revolution in Theology………………
2.b. Albrecht Ritschl and His Disciples Accommodate to Modernity…………………………
2.c. Ernst Troeltsch Relativizes Christianity……………………………………………………
2.d. Catholic Modernists Attempt to Bring Rome up to Date………………………………….
3. Conservative Protestant Theology Defends Orthodoxy in a Modern Way………………….
3a. Charles Hodge Constructs a Modern Form of Protestant Orthodoxy……………………
4. Mediating Theologies Build Bridges between Orthodoxy and Liberalism………………….
4a. Isaak August Dorner Bridges the Gap between Liberal and Orthodox Theologies………..
4b. Horace Bushnell Searches for a Progressive Orthodoxy…………………………………..
5. Neo-Orthodoxy/Dialectical/Kerygmatic Theology Revives the Reformation in a Modern Context
5.a. Karl Barth Drops a Bombshell on the Theologians’ Playground………………………….
5.b. Rudolf Bultmann Existentializes and Demythologizes Christianity………………………
5.c. Reinhold Niebuhr Rediscovers Original Sin and Develops Christian Realism……………
6. Chastened Liberal Theologies Renew and Revise the Dialogue with Modernity…………..
6.a. Paul Tillich Describes God as the Ground of Being, a “God above God”……………….
6.b. Process Theology Brings God Down to Earth…………………………………………….
7. Radical Theologies Envision a Religionless Christianity (includes Bonhoeffer)…………….
8. Theologians Look to the Future with Hope…………………………………………………
8.a. Jürgen Moltmann Renews Confidence in the Final Triumph of God……………………..
8.b. Wolfhart Pannenberg Revitalizes Rational Faith in History’s God……………………….
9. Liberation Theologies Protest Injustice and Oppression…………………………………….
10. Catholic Theologians Engage with Modernity……………………………………………..
10.a. Karl Rahner Finds God in Human Experience……………………………………………
10.b. Hans Küng Advocates a New Paradigm of Catholic Theology………………………….
10.c. Hans Urs von Balthasar Bases Christian Truth on Beauty……………………………….
11. Evangelical Theology Comes of Age and Wrestles with Modernity………………………
12. Postmodern Theologians Rebel against Modernity…………………………………………
12.a. Postliberal Theologians and Stanley Hauerwas Develop a Third Way in Theology……..
12.b. John Caputo Deconstructs Religion with the Kingdom of God………………………….
Conclusion………………………………………………………………

Book Description

Modernity has been an age of revolutions--political, scientific, industrial and philosophical. Consequently, it has also been an age of revolutions in theology, as Christians attempt to make sense of their faith in light of the cultural upheavals around them, what Walter Lippman once called the "acids of modernity." Modern theology is the result of this struggle to think responsibly about God within the modern cultural ethos. In this major revision and expansion of the classic 20th Century Theology (1992), co-authored with Stanley J. Grenz, Roger Olson widens the scope of the story to include a fuller account of modernity, more material on the nineteenth century and an engagement with postmodernity. More importantly, the entire narrative is now recast in terms of how theologians have accommodated or rejected the Enlightenment and scientific revolutions. With that question in mind, Olson guides us on the epic journey of modern theology, from the liberal "reconstruction" of theology that originated with Friedrich Schleiermacher to the postliberal and postmodern "deconstruction" of modern theology that continues today. The Journey of Modern Theology is vintage Olson: eminently readable, panoramic in scope, at once original and balanced, and marked throughout by a passionate concern for the church's faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. This will no doubt become another standard text in historical theology.

Reviews

"In this highly readable and stimulating volume, Roger Olson navigates the nuances and complexities of modern theology with the aplomb of a seasoned scholar and the sensibility of an expert guide. The result is the best narrative account of the subject available today. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a better introduction to the sweep of modern theology being written anytime soon." (John R. Franke, Yellowstone Theological Institute)

"Having used for years and years 'Grenz and Olson' as a classroom resource, I am enthused about this rewrite which, indeed, is such a complete rewrite that it has made an already great text even better! What distinguishes this survey of contemporary theology from all others is not only Dr. Olson's insightful and balanced critique of views but also its integral narrative structure. Similar to its predecessor, this one is likely to become a standard resource for years to come." (Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, professor of theology, Fuller Theological Seminary, and docent of ecumenics, University of Helsinki)

"Originally intended as a revision of 20th-Century Theology, The Journey of Modern Theology makes a unique and independent contribution to the study of modern theology. Olson has focused upon the diverse reactions to modernity. The book includes a more extensive treatment of nineteenth-century theology, and it engages in detail with contemporary postliberal, postmodern and deconstructive endeavors. The volume exhibits the passion of Olson's commitments and the clarity of his writing. Both make the volume extremely useful and helpful for beginning students. Olson is clear in his advocacy of orthodox and neo-orthodox theological positions as he is in his criticism of liberal theories. He does so in a way that fosters and encourages a dialogue with diverse theological options." (Francis Schüssler Fiorenza, Stillman Professor for Roman Catholic Theological Studies, Harvard Divinity School)

"This is an exceptional achievement--the fruit of many years of diligent labor in the classroom and study. From Descartes to Hauerwas, and just about everyone in between, Roger Olson provides a travelogue that covers the many routes taken in the journey that is modern theology. Through learned and appealing descriptions of the landmarks along the way, Olson invites his readers to take up their own explorations of key theologians and movements. This is an engaging and readable survey, which will serve as an able guide for students of modern theology for many years to come." (David Lauber, associate professor of theology, Wheaton College)

Product Description
  • Hardcover: 690 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (December 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830840214
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830840212
  •