The Word as True Myth: Interpreting Modern Theology

By Morgan, Christopher W. | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, September 2000 | Go to article overview

The Word as True Myth: Interpreting Modern Theology


Morgan, Christopher W., Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


The Word as True Myth: Interpreting Modern Theology. By Gary Dorrien. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1997, 287 pp., $24.95 paper.

Gary Dorrien serves as Associate Professor of Religion, Dean of Stetson Chapel, and Chair of Humanities at Kalamazoo College in Michigan. His other notable books include Soul in Society: The Making and Renewal of Social Christianity (1995), The Remaking of Evangelical Theology (1998), and The Barthian Revolt in Modern Theology: Theology without Weapons (1999).

In The Word as True Myth, Dorrien endeavors to interpret the history of modern theology by examining how major theological movements and particular thinkers understood "Christian myth." In doing so, he focuses on liberalism, crisis theology/ neo-orthodoxy, and liberationism/postmodernism.

Dorrien's account of liberalism surveys Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Schleiermacher, G. W. F. Hegel, David Friedrich Strauss, Albrecht Ritschl, Adolf von Harnack, Shailer Mathews, D. C. Macintosh, Ernst Troeltsch, and Walter Rauschenbusch. He proposes that despite all their differences the leading liberal theologians assumed that the mythical aspects of Christianity were to be transcended or overcome. In essence, liberalism yearned to adapt Christianity to "an Enlightened myth-negating consciousness" (p. 2).

Whereas liberalism attempted to go beyond the mythical elements of Christianity, dialectical theologians brought the idea of myth to the forefront. From his examination of Karl Barth, Rudolf Bultmann, Emil Brunner, Paul Tillich, Friedrich Gogarten, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Reinhold Niebuhr, Dorrien concludes that neo-orthodox theologians produced a wide variety of viewpoints concerning the problem of Christian myth. In particular, Dorrien suggests that Bultmann aimed to reconstruct ("demythologize") the mythical aspects of Christianity into humanity's existential concerns, that Brunner denied the idea of Christian myth altogether, and that Tillich and Niebuhr embraced myth as the essential mode of encounter with a person's ultimate concern.

Endeavoring to demonstrate the transition from neo-orthodoxy to the diverse postmodernist theologies, Dorrien focuses his attention on the theological journey of Langdon Gilkey. He finds in Gilkey a strong attempt to reinterpret classical liberalism and neo-orthodoxy in the postmodern context. Gilkey's theology exemplifies a reworked liberalism that affirms Christian myth as its source.

Contemporary liberationism/postmodernism also struggles over the precise meaning and role of myth, Dorrien submits. Process theology is viewed as an attempt to translate faith into the language of a credible philosophy. Jungian theory, ecofeminism, and poststructural feminism are then perceived as appeals to "the mythic imagination as a distinctively generative and revelatory mode of understanding" (p. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Word as True Myth: Interpreting Modern Theology
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.