Concise History of Modern Theology


Kevin Hart writes “[W]ith the help of Schleiermacher’s Life of Jesus (based on his 1819-1832 lectures), will become an abyss dividing fact and faith – the Jesus off history and the Chris of faith. An entire history of Christianity follows: Christianity without metaphysics (Ritschl), Christianity without religion (Barth), Christianity without myth (Bultmann), Christianity without the supernatural (Tillich), Christianity without religion (Bonhoeffer), Christianity without reliance on dogma (Rahner), even Christianity without God (Altizer). [Here the author includes the note: “Jean-Luc Nancy characterizes Protestantism as ‘theism without God’ (Inoperative Community, 128)”]. That the without means slightly different things is clear by comparing Barth’s Aufhenbung der Religion and Bonhoeffer’s Religionloses Christentum, for example. And of course it needs to be recalled, that much modern theology elaborates itself by way of a “with”, sometimes with or “without”: theology with an option for the poor (Gutierrez), theology with the third transcendental (von Baltharsar), and so on.” (Cross and Khôra, 94)

This got me thinking. While reading through CD I/1 one gets the impression that Barth is rigorously creating a new theology that endeavors to rid itself of any sort of modern thought. That is to say, he will not allow current philosophy or modern historical research (say historical Jesus studies) to contaminate his theology. This was not something that only Barth pursued in his theology. Bultmann and Tillich likewise agreed that the Christ of faith could never be reduced to the Jesus of the latest historical research. As Altizer argued in the Genesis of God, the greatest modern theologians (Barth, Bultmann, Tillich, Rahner) were all ahistorical thinkers How strange is that the most heterodox theologian of our time (Altizer) is also perhaps our most Biblical and historical theologian.

My Updated History of Modern Theology:

Christianity without a metaphysical God (Marion), Christianity without sovereignty (Caputo), Christianity without secularism (Milbank), Christianity without violence (Yoder), Christianity without liberalism (Hauerwas), and Christianity without the Bible (process theology)

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