Living Options in Protestant Theology: A Survey of Methods

By John B. Cobb | Go to book overview

Preface

THIS BOOK IS WRITTEN IN THE HOPE THAT IT CONSTITUTES A RESPONSIBLE survey of the present situation in Protestant theology. Only on the basis of some such survey can one intelligently define his own position. But a survey can lead to responsible decision only if it points up the bases on which such decision must ultimately rest. Since it is my judgment that these bases must be understood in terms of methodology, this survey is oriented to the critical study of the methods employed by major theologians.

A critical comparison of theological methods in the contemporary scene must appear to the average Christian and even to the average student of theology to be quite remote from the vital concerns of faith and of the church. Yet it is undertaken here from personal necessity and from the conviction that it is urgent because it is a means toward the revitalization of faith in our day. In this preface I want to indicate briefly the reasons for my judgment of the importance of methodology.

Usually when a man sets out to present his theological position, he takes as given his own imaginative insights, his traditional convictions, and his intuitive reactions to the ideas of others. Undoubtedly much of the most significant theological writing in every age is formed in this way. It bears the imprint of the living personality of the thinker, and in this lies its power. But in this lies also its weakness.

Theologies of this sort can be endlessly proliferated, and there is little reason to hope that they can ever be reconciled. For those who follow rather than lead the theological movement, only chance or personal inclination can determine who will be accepted as a guide.

Both Roman Catholicism and Protestant orthodoxy have known how to keep the creative individuality of their thinkers within bounds. Both have

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Living Options in Protestant Theology: A Survey of Methods
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Preface 7
  • 1: the Historic Role of Natural Theology 17
  • 2: the Thomism of E. L. Mascall 33
  • 3: Boston Personalism 60
  • 4: Henry Nelson Wieman 91
  • 5: the Nineteenth-Century Background 121
  • 6: Emil Brunner 143
  • 7: Karl Barth 171
  • 8: What is Existentialism? 199
  • 9: Rudolf Bultmann 227
  • 10: Paul Tillich 259
  • 11: H. Richard and Reinhold Niebuhr 284
  • Personal Conclusions 312
  • Bibliography 324
  • Index 332
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