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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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A Purified Liberal Theology

A Purified Liberal Theology

(p.78) Chapter fourA Purified Liberal Theology
Liberalism versus Postliberalism

John Allan Knight

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes the liberal theological method of Schubert Ogden. It begins by describing the most important contributors to Ogden’s thought: Rudolf Bultmann’s existential hermeneutics, Alfred North Whitehead’s analysis of human subjectivity, and Charles Hartshorne’s concept of God. The chapter then describes Ogden’s method of interpreting and validating theological claims, displayed in his dual criteria of adequacy. Theological claims must be appropriate to Jesus Christ (an existential criterion) and credible to common human experience and reason. Ogden derives his articulation of common human experience through a transcendental analysis of the conditions of the possibility of any and all acts of human subjectivity. Further, Ogden’s transcendental argument for God’s existence yields an understanding of God whose existence is necessary. The descriptive sense Ogden associates with “God” thus picks out God alone as its referent. Additionally, the descriptive senses associated with the predicates of theological claims are also derived from elements of human experience. We can therefore have knowledge, either through acquaintance or through description, of whether the conditions described in those descriptive senses are satisfied. Therefore, This allows him to meet the demands of Russell as well as Flew and other falsification theorists.

Keywords:   Bultmann, Rudolf, demythologization, existentialism, Hartshorne, Charles, liberal theology, Ogden, Schubert, process theology, reference, reformed subjectivist principle, Whitehead, Alfred North

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