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

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Acids of Modernity and Christian Theology, Part 1

Modernity has been an age of revolutions—political, scientific, industrial and the 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 post-liberal 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.

Baylor Historical Theologican Roger Olson

The Acids of Modernity and Christian Theology

by Scot McKnight
Aug 22, 2014

Modern theology is theology done in the context of modernity, which means, in the context of what happened to thinking and culture as a result of the Enlightenment. Modern theology is often a code expression for “liberal” theology, and many ways that might be right. But Roger Olson, in his big book The Journey of Modern Theology: From Reconstruction to Deconstruction, [has] massively updated [a] book he co-wrote with Stanley Grenz (called Twentieth Century Theology, 1992), spends less time thinking about “liberal” and far more about “modern.”

To get what he’s doing we have to understand what “modernity” is, what one famous American thinker called the “acids” of modernity?

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

Olson highlights seven features of modernity, each of which has stronger and weaker forms, so that one must have nuances all over the place if one wishes to be intelligent about this kind of subject. I have spent some of the last year reading about liberal theology, and I see Roger’s book as the best sketch of the big picture we have available today.

So, what is modernity?

1. Rationalism: the omnicompetence of autonomous human reason.

2. Skepticism: an anti-posture toward tradition, especially Christian religious traditions, as beliefs not based on reason.

3. Scientism/naturalism: a belief in the scientific method, on the indubitable realities of the empirical world in contrast to beliefs, and in a worldview that is shaped by naturalism.

4. Secularism: life can be lived best without God and religion. Religion belongs in the private, personal sphere of life.

5. Historicism: everything in history is causally related to other historical events.

6. Optimism: modernity, when lived well, leads to inevitable progress in overcoming misery.

7. Anthropocentrism: humans are at the center of knowing and the center of the universe.

(8.) These elements, when pursued, enable us to pursue progress in society and culture.

Many major modernistic voices — e.g., Voltaire, Thomas Jefferson — have contended that modernity’s march would trod religion, especially Christianity, under foot and it will disappear but Christianity, paradoxically, has flourished in a worldview of modernity.

Modern theology traces how various theologians have accommodated to modernity’s central features. Some have capitulated; many have reacted under the control of modernity. So there is a spectrum from capitulation and subversion all the way to robust reframings of the tradition in more modernistic categories (many would say that is what American Protestant fundamentalism was/is).

Where do you place “progressive Christianity” in this discussion?

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