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Albert Outler’s primer…

August 14, 2008

(Photo from NY Times. Cultural clash in Riyahd)

Notes from Who Trusts In God, Albert Outler

(New York: OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 1968)

the rise of modern paganism

Voltaire: the first great prophet of modern paganism. “I am not a Christian, but it is in the interest of being able to love better.” Died in 1778.

David Hume: a cheerful Stoic. …since God is silent, man is his own master: he must live in a disenchanted world, submit everything to criticism, and make his own way. Died in 1776.

Modern: means the conviction that what man can make can make life good for man.

“the rise of historical consciousness”

Pascal: the heart has its reasons which reason cannot know

Nietzsche: integrity in matters of the mind requires that one be severe against one’s heart

Schleiermacher, Ritschl, Bushnell: the great architects of “liberal theology” made drastic revisions in their reformulations of traditional doctrine but never dreamed of undercutting its foundation

long struggle between “fundamentalism” and “modernism”

Feuerbach: the beginning, middle and end of religion is MAN

liberalism in mainstream Protestantism produced new theses about man’s responsibility for his own history and worldly well-being. It stripped classical Protestantism of its last vestiges of infallibility (biblicism, etc.)

“Even so, the corporate life of the churches continued vigorous with many new frontiers in evangelism, missions, Christian education, and ‘the social Gospel.'” (13)

Barth, Brunner, the brothers Niebuhr, et al.: neo-orthodox titans who reaffirmed the prime place of Scripture in theological reflection and stressed the church as “event,” not to be identified with the all too obvious flaws in the all too visible ecclesiastical institutions.

Kant, Marx, and Freud

Kierkegaard: truth was subjectivity

Heidegger: final consensus that Christian metaphysics was an exercise in futility (theology after Auchwitz)

“a massive shift of the ethical center of gravity from ‘society’ (heteronomy) to the individual (autonomy), from universal rules to contextual decisions” (17)

the emergence of powerful lay movements in the churches, deeply concerned to participate in the life and work of the churches, with but scant acquaintance with their Christian heritage

Bultmann: demythologizes the Bible

healthy disbelief in the deus ex machina and in “God-talk” that pretends to any sort of “God-handling.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (in a Nazi prison): the paradox of human autonomy and Christian faith

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 14, 2008 11:57 am

    Easy to see the trend toward post-modernism, but then perhaps Bonhoeffer would say post-modern thinking continues the trend toward human autonomy/individualism????

  2. just an apprentice permalink
    August 16, 2008 6:53 am

    We would be remiss if we did not add to this primer the voices of the French deconstructionists–Derrida and Foucalt. They (and their attentive reader–Jack Caputo) would call us to have a healthy skepticism to the foundationalist way of framing metanarratives. This seems like a frontal attack on Truth. But, perhaps if we don’t just react, we can hear the wisdom that questions the power interests that use religious narratives to justify their spin on history. Postmodernity has also challenged the Colonial expression of Truth-telling (the illusion of objectivity). This is not just a nihilistic fragmentation of the human community, but a critique of oppressive power which imposes a more “Enlightened” order and way upon the primitive communities of the “developing world.”

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