Good liberal theology vs. bad liberal theology?

British theologian Theo Hobson has a paradigm-scrambling article in the Christian Century, the magazine of record of mainline liberal Protestantism.  He says that liberal theology has suffered a “huge collapse,” particularly in its intellectual credibility in academic theology.   The “bad” liberal theology is faulted for being little more than a vague, rationalistic humanism, cut off from historical Christian doctrines and rituals (meaningful worship, the Sacraments). There is, however, a “good” liberal theology, he says, one that supports the “liberal state.”  By that he means a state characterized by freedom  (religious liberty as opposed to established churches, individual freedom of conscience, civil liberties).

Now, of course,in this country, the cause of political and religious liberty is championed by conservatives.  Theological conservatives would no doubt have a broader conception of liberal theology than Hobson does, finding other “academic theologies”–he mentions that of Barth and the radically orthodox Milibank–equally “liberal” insofar as they take a critical stance on the truth and authority of the Bible.  Still, you’ve got to read this, after the jump.  What do you make of all this? [Read more...]

The contemporary theologian we need?

Oswald Bayer,  emeritus professor of theology at the University of Tübingen, is a widely-respected thinker who engages with contemporary thought on a very sophisticated level.  As we’ve blogged, he is sometimes associated with the Radical Orthodox movement and he is considered a rather cutting-edged theologian.  But his emphasis is the Gospel and the Word of God. [Read more...]

Is Anglicanism inherently Lutheran?

Anthony Sacramone quotes Anglican priest Peter Ould:

Even though Henry VIII was just a selfish Roman Catholic, basically, men like Cranmer and Ridley and Latimer were deeply imbibing of the Lutheran theology. … Anglicanism is inherently Lutheran.

For a video of Father Ould talking about this and Mr. Sacramone’s discussion, go here:   Is Anglicanism a Variant of Lutheranism? | Strange Herring. [Read more...]

A sociologist looks at Progressive vs. Conservative Christianity

In the context of a discussion about a growing movement of conservative Catholicism in England, Peter Berger–a giant in the field of sociology and an ELCA Lutheran–discusses some misconceptions about the appeal of progressive vs. conservative Christianity.  He says that “supernaturalism” increases a church’s appeal (despite Mainline Protestants’ [and I would add some ostensible conservatives'] attempt to appeal to the age by playing that  down by replacing the supernatural gospel with morality, self-help psychology, or politics).  He says that “sexual repression,” though, probably does dampen the appeal of conservative religion. [Read more...]

Evangelizing the Nazis

Chad Bird tells the story of Henry Gerecke,  a pastor of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and a military chaplain assigned to minister to the war criminals at the Nuremberg trials, including walking with ten of them to the gallows.  Many of the Nazis clung to their Nietzschean paganism.  But some of them Pastor Gerecke led to Christ.

That might bother some of us.  Surely, if anyone deserves Hell, these mass-murdering monsters did.  We might think that it’s wrong to extend the Gospel to sinners of this magnitude.  As if Christ, when He bore the sins of the world on the Cross did not carry what these men had done.  That would make the Cross too hideously ugly.  But it is.  And this is what Christianity is all about, or it is nothing.

After the jump, read about Pastor Gerecke.  And follow the link to read him tell his own story, including the names of the Nazis who did and who did not come to Christ. [Read more...]

The Lutheran roots of Radical Orthodoxy

Not long ago we posted about the theological and philosophical movement known as Radical Orthodoxy, asking whether Lutherans could have a seat at that table.  Well, in another context, my friend George Strieter put me on to Johann Georg Hamann, a devout Lutheran who was friends with Kant and Hegel but who critiqued their philosophies with some extremely innovative philosophy of his own.   It turns out, Hamann’s thought is said to be a major influence on ” Oswald Bayer, John Milbank and David Bentley Hart.”  The latter two are the most prominent figures in Radical Orthodoxy.  And that Oswald Bayer , perhaps the favorite contemporary German theologian at Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, is mentioned here puts him in the company of the radically orthodox. [Read more...]