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Liberal Theology

  1. A Liberal Bandaged but Unbowed by Robert L. Calhoun

    The author has been compelled to recognize that for theology two foundations are equally necessary: specific revelations of reality both divine and non-divine, and the principle of relevance or coherence which is basic to all rational living.

  2. A Trinitarian View of Religious Pluralism by S. Mark Heim

    This article concludes a two-part series. (See Heim, "The Pluralism of Religious Ends.") In the triune God, the varied dimensions of God belong to all of the persons together, not to any one. Human interaction with the Trinity can "tune" itself to one or more of these dimensions.

  3. An Interview with Robert W. Jenson by Robert W. Jensen

    In this interview, Robert W. Jenson discusses many of the current Christian issues including Sanctification, Justification, Trinitarianism, Ecumenism, Liberalism, Pentecostalism, Catholicism.

  4. At the Divine Banquet by Rodney Clapp

    Is there no salvation except through Christ? The author suggests we might take a lesson from earlier Christians who did not assume Godís judgment on others, but worried first and foremost about their own shortcomings.

  5. Beliefs That Count by Georgia Harkness

    (ENTIRE BOOK) Twelve basic affirmations of our Christian faith as each relates to modern man are discussed: What we believe about God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, Man, Sin, Experience, Perfection, the Church, the Kingdom of God, Divine Judgment and Eternal Life.

  6. Christís Death To End Sacrifice by S. Mark Heim

    The work of the cross is the work of a transcendent God breaking into a cycle we could not change alone.

  7. Christian Affirmations by Norman Pittenger

    (ENTIRE BOOK) A primer of traditional Christian doctrine, including creeds, salvation, prayer, death, worship, practice and faith.

  8. Common Sense Christianity by C. Randolph Ross

    (ENTIRE BOOK) A fascinating presentation of sensible answers to many of the questions in the minds of ordinary church people. It is written by a committed Christian who is convinced that much of what the Church has taught as doctrine for most of its twenty centuries is just plain wrong.

  9. Debating the Incarnation by Trevor Beeson

    There seems to be plenty of material in The Myth of God Incarnate for useful debate, and it is to be hoped that those who are afraid of the authors’ approaches or who disagree with their conclusions will keep their heads sufficiently to enable a constructive discussion to take place.

  10. Doubting Theology by Forum ralls

    Four theologians discuss the many attempts to understand the assumptions of the scriptures in light of scientific investigations into the origin of the universe and of the species.

  11. Doubting Thomas: Christology in Story Form by John B. Cobb, Jr.

    (ENTIRE BOOK) Examines, in interesting story form, the question "Was Jesus a religious genius, or was he God in human form, apart from whose saving work we are all condemned to hell?" An excellent tool for undergraduate and adult discussion groups.

  12. Exposing Zacchaeus by Vitor Westhelle

    How is Jesus calling us down from our success and wealth -- our Sycamore trees -- where we think our affluence and luxuries protect us from responsibilities and obligations to the poor, the hungry and the homeless?

  13. Faith and Modern Humanity: Two Approaches by Robert C. Roberts

    Rudolf Bultmannís work has encouraged self-deception and confusion in the church. To become free from his influence, it is important that theologians and pastors understand his work. But the man who is sometimes said to be the source of Bultmannís ideas, Søren Kierkegaard, can be instrumental in liberating us from Bultmannís way of thinking.

  14. God Beats Up on People Who Ask Useless Questions by Wayne C. Lusvardi

    An interpretation of some negative and affirmative theologies of religion from a reading of Peter L. Berger's Questions of Faith: A Skeptical Affirmation of Christianity (Blackwell Publishing, 2004).

  15. Godís Grace and Manís Hope by Daniel Day Williams

    (ENTIRE BOOK) The author critiques both liberal and neo-orthodox presuppositions and then suggests an alternative theological foundation.

  16. How Jesus Put an End to Sacrifice by S. Mark Heim

    Only God can reveal the total reality of sacrifice and reverse its obliterated victims through resurrection, and bring about an alternative choice for human unity.

  17. Jesus and Liberation Theology by Robert T. Osborn

    Liberation theology not only promises liberation of the oppressed, the poor and the marginals of society, but even liberation from the limited dreams of the oppressed for the eternal vision and dream of God, his own promised kingdom.

  18. Jesus Loves Everybody by Ronald Goetz

    Goetz addresses an obvious question: If Jesus loves everybody, why is there so much sin and suffering in the world? And why did Jesus need to suffer and die to reveal God's love? Goetz insists that sentimental notions of divine love will not suffice as substitutes for careful explorations of the Biblical, theological and historical sources of our faith in God's love.

  19. Jesus Up Close by Robin M. Jensen

    How appropriate or relevant is it to try to determine what Jesus really looked like?

  20. Know Your Faith by Nels F. S. Ferré

    (ENTIRE BOOK) There is a need to make solid theology generally available. The attempt is made here to fill the gap between popular and professional theology.

  21. Liberal Christianity at the Crossroads by John B. Cobb, Jr.

    (ENTIRE BOOK) Says the author: "I have tried in these chapters to share as a liberal Christian with other liberal Christians an understanding of where we are and where we are called to go. I am convinced that liberal Christianity has little future unless it can articulate its stance to itself in such a way as to differentiate itself from the activist, mystical, and psychological movements toward which it gravitates from time to time."

  22. Living Options in Protestant Theology by John B. Cobb, Jr.

    (ENTIRE BOOK) Dr. Cobb provides an overview of contemporary Protestant theology. This theology is confronted by a wide variety of ideas that sometimes agree and sometimes do not. If we are to judge ideas intelligently, we must learn why each theologian affirms them and how he justifies them. Then we can consider both the soundness of the method and the care and consistency with which it is employed.

  23. Man and His Becoming by Philip H. Phenix

    (ENTIRE BOOK) No single field of study can provide a full picture of human nature and growth. An integral philosophy of man must be founded upon knowledge gained from all areas of inquiry, including the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities.

  24. North American Theology in the Twentieth Century by John B. Cobb, Jr.

    The author analyzes the dominant streams of theological thinking in twentieth century North America: the Social Gospel Period, the Niebuhrian Generation, and the radical theologies of the 1960's including black theology, liberation theology, and feminist theology. For him the issue is what a post-modernist constructive theology can look like. He discusses five approaches: the contextualist movement, Jurgen Moltmann's theology of hope, Cobb's own theological approach, and Latin American liberation theology.

  25. Not All Cats Are Gray: Beyond Liberalism’s Uncertain Faith by Leonard I. Sweet

    The difference between conservatives and liberals is not that one groups is certain and the other is not; rather, it is that conservatives are certain of too much. No matter how incomplete our vision, we must move from questions we cannot answer to answers we cannot evade.

  26. Ordeal of a Happy Dilettante by Albert C. Outler

    Outler: My conversion to liberalism came in the years of the Great Depression -- at the very time when the first effective critiques of liberal theology were being noticed in this country. It now seems long ago and far away, but that conversion left with me two significant residues that I still cherish: the liberal temper and the social gospel.

  27. Oxymorons as Theological Symbols by Troy Organ

    An existent God must be a limited God – limited by all that is non-God. Our understanding of the Divine is enhanced by our joining the Buddhists in recognizing that words are “fingers that point to the moon.” Oxymorons help us, in the words of St. Augustine, to “see ineffably that which is ineffable,” and in the words of Deutero-Isaiah, to find what we do not seek (Isa. 65:1).

  28. Protestant Liberalism Reaffirmed by Deane William Ferm

    Protestant liberalism is not infallible, but what are the alternatives: They are in recent times to retreat behind a revelation claim (neo-orthodoxy), to deny the reality of God (death of God), to dwell on one important yet narrow aspect of the struggle for justice (liberation), or to recite stories. Protestant liberalism opposes these alternatives.

  29. Radical Theology and the Death of God by Thomas Altizer and William Hamilton

    (ENTIRE BOOK) The aim of the new theology is not simply to seek relevance or contemporaneity for its own sake but to strive for a whole new way of theological understanding. Thus it is a theological venture in the strict sense, but it is no less a pastoral response hoping to give support to those who have chosen to live as Christian atheists.

  30. Religion and its Intellectual Critics by Paul Tillich

    The intellectual is he who asks. The function which is universally human – to be able to ask questions – becomes in the intellectual a special function, the function which forms his character, the dominant function of his intellectual life.. But if this is so, if asking becomes the dominant function of the intellectual, then a tension arises between the intellectual’s radical will to ask and the immediate, blessed certainty of the religious man and woman in their religious experiences, traditions, and symbols. This conflict cannot be avoided.

  31. Resurrection: A Symbol of Hope by Lloyd Geering

    (ENTIRE BOOK) A helpful examination of the Christian meaning of resurrection -- including the difference between belief in Jesus' resurrection as an historical event, versus resurrection as an expression of faith in the risen Christ. .Resurrection does not mean the endless prolongation of a conscious self but a life of such quality that, having no further concern for self-interest, can transcend death and rise to a fresh mode of manifestation in the lives of men and women who follow.

  32. Searchlights on Contemporary Theology by Nels F. S. Ferré

    (ENTIRE BOOK) Dr. Ferré discusses the barriers to dialogue and the following questions: Are Theologicans Undermining the Faith? What does freedom mean in an enslaved world? What kind of basic revision is needed in American education? What is the authority of the bible today? What is a definition of God and Christian experience for the twentieth century man?

  33. Seeking a Theology of the Finite by Donald L. Berry

    We are not who we are without our bodies. But our bodies do not define or exhaust who we are.

  34. Speaking in Parables: A Study in Metaphor and Theology by Sallie McFague

    (ENTIRE BOOK) This book studies the relationship of metaphor and theology. Parables, poems, novels and autobiography are examined as literary forms which address the ways in which metaphor operates in language, belief and life. Thus they are prime resources for a theologian who is attempting to serve the hearing of God's word for our time, by keeping language, belief and life together in a meaningful and relevant way.

  35. Talking About God: Doing Theology in the Context of Modern Pluralism by David Tracy and John B. Cobb, Jr.

    (ENTIRE BOOK) Based on Lectures by the two authors at John Carroll University. The meaning of God, and how one approaches God are examined. The scientific view, Buddhism, feminism, and the Christian view all differ in their approach to and in talking about God, but all seek God.

  36. The Ambiguities of Transcendence by Clyde A. Holbrook

    Christianity does not call us to flee to another world, but to hallow this world where we are placed.

  37. The Authority of Hope by F. Thomas Trotter

    Trotter wrestles with "hope" as a distinctively Christian term. Utilizing various theologians, as well as other traditions, Trotter presents a strong case for hope as a critical aspect of Christian faith which has too often been relegated to obscurity or simply neglected. He ends with a ringing endorsement of "hope" as a source of strength for believers.

  38. The Claim to Uniqueness by Gabriel Moran

    There are two meanings in the word “unique.”1. To be different from all others. 2. That which distinguishes a person from a thing (that is, the ontological meaning). Many statements in Christian history can be misunderstood if one misses the paradox in the meanings of this word.

  39. The Continuing Christian Need for Judaism by John Shelby Spong

    Both overt and covert acts of anti-Semitism have soiled the pages of history with unforgettable amounts of both blood and shame which stand forever on the Christian church’s record. When Christianity severed itself from Judaism the Christian faith itself became distorted.

  40. The Difference Jesus Makes by David Kelsey

    God sends suffering as part of the process of our redemption from spiritual and moral imperfection, and it is particularly through suffering that human souls are purified and made perfect.

  41. The Dimensions of God’s Life by Ted Peters

    No longer can we speak of God in isolation. The divine life is also our life. As soon as we free ourselves from thinking of two levels of Trinity, one inner and the other outer, then we can see again that there is but one life of the triune God, and that life includes God’s relation to us

  42. The Divine Burden by Ronald Goetz

    No one, not even God, can act in this world without bringing unintentional suffering to others. Our innocent good fortune can be the cause of someone elseís grievous disappointments. If God who wills to be involved has created a world in which not even he can act in perfect blamelessness, how can God avoid the accusation of guilt -- ultimate, primordial culpability for all human suffering?

  43. The Escape From God by Paul Tillich

    Men of all kinds, prophets and reformers, saints and atheists, believers and unbelievers, have tried to escape God. It is safe to say that a man who has never tried to flee God has never experienced the God Who is really God. When I speak of God, I do not refer to the many gods of our own making, the gods with whom we can Live rather comfortably. For there is no reason to flee a god who is the perfect picture of everything that is good in man.. A god whom we can easily bear, a god from whom we do not have to hide, a god whom we do not hate in moments, a god whose destruction we never desire, is not God at all, and has no reality.

  44. The Future of Liberal Christianity by Donald E. Miller

    Can the liberal church provide an answer to the basic human needs?If liberal Christianity merely accommodates itself to contemporary culture, it will cease being a religion.

  45. The Gift of Faith by B. A. Gerrish

    Faith, the author asserts, comes through hearing the testimony of the church--and is not dependent on accurate knowledge of the historical Jesus.

  46. The Gospel of Christian Atheism by Thomas J.J. Altizer

    (ENTIRE BOOK) The honest Christian must admit that the God he worships exists only in the past -- or he must bet upon the gospel, or "good news," of the God who willed his own death to enter more completely into the world of his creation. And the honest atheist, who lives forlornly bereft of faith, will want to understand this revolutionary and definitive statement about a Christ who is totally present and alive in our midst today, embodied now in every human face.

  47. The Liberation of White Theology by Frederick Herzog

    Protestant theology has largely stood aside from peoples who are outcast, downtrodden, humiliated. It has served the rich, the successful, the property owners. So people who could not afford an enterprise called theology see it as "white theology" standing against them.

  48. The Ordinary as Mask of the Holy by Belden C. Lane

    Our tendency to seek the holy directly, apart from any mask or ambiguity -- through what Luther criticized as a theology of glory. In other words, we want to possess the sacred without owning the ordinary.

  49. The Pluralism of Religious Ends Dreams Fulfilled by S. Mark Heim

    This article begins a two-part series. (See Heim, "A Trinitarian View of Religious Pluralism"). Is there one way or many ways to salvation? The dogmatic pluralist believes that the particularities of all religions are insignificant. The dogmatic exclusivist believes that the particularities of all religions but one are insignificant. There are good reasons to think that both these positions are mistaken.

  50. The Real Task of Practical Theology by Robin Lovin

    Lovin enters into the ongoing discussion of what theological education should be and how "practical theology" is to be understood and included. The author works from the premise that all theology must be practical theology in that it must enable individual faith to be effectively connected to social context. Practical theology's task is to inform the theological dialogue about the complexity of communicating the gospel and the resources available to help.

  51. The Resurrection: A Truth Beyond Understanding by Ronald Goetz

    We should rejoice that the Easter event is more true than any of our explanations. Am I more loved by Christ because I become increasingly skeptical of scientism and find myself more deeply appreciative of Plato the older I get? Perhaps the real Christian believing is being done by those modernists whose naturalistic prejudices make faith an enormous intellectual struggle.

  52. The Road Ahead in Theology -- Revisited by Deane William Ferm

    Many theologians of the past 15 years have seduced theology into well-meaning but self-serving purposes. We must reaffirm the critical task of theology and the importance of reason in clarifying issues and making plain the alternatives for belief.

  53. The Spirituality and Politics of Holy Folly by Belden C. Lane

    Many times in the history of divine and human affairs, Holy Folly has been the cause of deliverance and salvation. A sudden paradoxical turn is frequently the Holy Spirit's preferred way of liberating God's people from spiritual and political impasses alike.

  54. The Structure of Christian Existence by John B. Cobb, Jr.

    (ENTIRE BOOK) An inquiry into what is distinctive in Christianity and into its claim to finality.

  55. The Truth of the Christian Fiction: Belief in the Modern Age by Donald E. Miller

    Our conceptualizations of Jesus and God, and the liturgical forms with which we celebrate their presence within out community of faith, are the creative products of individuals who have wrestled with their own faith.

  56. Theology: What Is It? Who Does It? How Is It Done? by Harvey Cox

    How can theologians -- members of a privileged elite -- be the interpreters of a Message which so ringingly challenges all established power and all elites? The answer lies in their recognizing for whom they are doing their theology. The coming of the Kingdom of God through the poor and the disinherited, both inside and outside the church, must provide the theologian's frame of reference. This means that human life in society constitutes the absolute value, and that all religious institutions, all dogmas, all the sacraments and all ecclesiastical authorities have only a relative, that is, a functional value.

  57. Toward Theological Understanding: An Interview with Edward Farley by Edward Farley

    Certain deep cultural values have eroded. Unless this problem is addressed, religious talk will turn into banalities.

  58. What Do We Mean By Faith in Jesus Christ? by B. A. Gerrish

    The author identifies a crisis in christology, stemming from religious pluralism and the quest for the historical Jesus. He suggests that christology properly begins with the experience of the believer, not with dogmatic formulae.

  59. Why Creeds Matter by William C. Placher

    Creeds require us to think about what we believe and what is believed. This collection covers 20 centuries worldwide showing the churchís enduring ability to continue confessing faithfully through crises much greater than our own.

  60. Why Does Jesusí Death Matter? by S. Mark Heim

    Christians err when they give the impression that the only truly important thing about Jesusí life is its end. At the same time, modern attempts to construct a view of Jesus that omits any emphasis on the death, focusing instead on a message or practice Jesus taught without reference to his own fate -- which are implausible as history and often lack distinctive Christian character.