The Faith of the Christian Church: An Introduction to Theology

The Faith of the Christian Church: An Introduction to Theology

The Faith of the Christian Church: An Introduction to Theology

The Faith of the Christian Church: An Introduction to Theology

Excerpt

In 1961 William Hamilton, the earliest voice in the "radical theology" of the 1960s, announced the demise of the search for "the essence of Christianity." He declared that we cannot "deliver the essence "of the Christian faith", once and for all, but rather an essence here and now for us." From now on the style of theological writing can only be "fragmentary"; there can be no comprehensive statements of the meaning of the Christian faith. "We must accept," he said, "our subjectivity and partial visions, and save ourselves from the errors of the earlier essence-of-Christianity tradition simply by not claiming permanent validity for what we see."

Few theologians today dare — or even care — to deny the limited perspective of every theology and the contextual nature of faith itself. Many major theologians in the second half of the twentieth century, such as John Cobb, have declined to write a systematic theology "because as an individual of limited perspective, he was always engaging new material. So, any systematic theology one can write would be limited in scope, and fail to encompass as many viewpoints and concerns as possible." Nevertheless, I can account for at least 150 texts since 1961 that attempt to introduce students to the breadth of the Christian vision of reality or to provide a systematic statement of the truth of the gospel.

1. William Hamilton, The New Essence of Christianity (New York: Association Press, 1961),
p. 12.

2. Hamilton, The New Essence of Christianity, p. 19.

3. J. R. Hustwit, "Whitehead and Schleiermacher: System and Life," Process Perspectives
(Winter 2002–2003): 5.

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