Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Reinventing Liberal Christianity

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Reinventing Liberal Christianity

Article excerpt

Reinventing Liberal Christianity. By Theo Hobson (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2013, Pp. viii, 340. $30.00, doth.)

In his book Reinventing Liberal Christianity Theo Hobson, a British theologian, begins by identifying two distinct, yet intertwined, traditions of liberal Christianity. Among these, the author identifies one tradition as good and the other as essentially bad. For Hobson, the first and good tradition is more or less the belief that religious liberty and the attending reality of the "Liberal State" are good things and should be supported by Christian theology. This is in Hobson's mind, particularly necessary in our present context. Since the 1970s, the philosophical rationale for the Liberal State has increasingly eroded (John Rawls and others' attempts not withstanding), even though the concrete benefits of the Liberal State are fairly self-evident. Likewise, our religious environment has increasingly been polarized by reactionary Fundamentalists of all sorts with their absolutizing vision of religio-political order. This creates the equal and opposite reaction of movements such as the "New Atheism." Although these secular movements tend to be supportive of the liberal project of the West, they nevertheless lack transcendental basis for sustaining the liberal order.

There is likewise also a "bad" tradition of liberal Christianity. The bad tradition intellectualizes and moralizes Christianity in order to make it more palatable. This approach fails in that it does not recognize that human religious cultures hold together because of cultic and mystical practice that cannot be validated on a purely rational basis. The church's cultic reality involves something mysterious and primal that transcends human rationality. …

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