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Liberalism versus PostliberalismThe Great Divide in Twentieth-Century Theology$
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John Allan Knight

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199969388

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199969388.001.0001

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Liberal Theology in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

Liberal Theology in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

(p.19) Chapter oneLiberal Theology in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
Liberalism versus Postliberalism

John Allan Knight

Oxford University Press

The first chapter provides background for the later discussion (in chapters three and four) of liberal theology in the twentieth century. By describing three central concerns of liberal theological method in the nineteenth century, it provides evidence that the theologians described in later chapters as representative of the liberal tradition truly are representative. The first of these three concerns is a turn to the subject, exemplified by Schleiermacher. The chapter describes briefly his two major works, the Speeches and The Christian Faith. Ritschl exemplifies the second concern, the search for historical corroboration of claims about Jesus. Finally, the search for the essence of Christianity can be seen clearly in Harnack’s What is Christianity? These three characteristic themes of nineteenth-century liberal theology will carry forward into the twentieth century and identify the theologians discussed in chapter four (especially Bultmann and Ogden) as standing squarely in the liberal tradition in theology.

Keywords:   essence of christianity, Adolf von Harnack, historical jesus, liberal theology, Albrecht Ritschl, Friedrich Schleiermacher, subjective turn

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