Friday, November 24, 2006

Sophomoric Theologians

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Categories : Religion

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published: vendredi 24 novembre 2006 20:47:28

Recently there has been a rash of anti-religion books. One would think from all the rhetoric and broad public exposure of the likes of Dawkins, Harris, Dennett and other critics of religion that they are in the vanguard of those criticizing elements of irrationality and ill conceived dogma in religion. That could not be farther from the truth. These atheistic critics seem completely unaware of those within religion over many decades who have lodged many of the same criticisms they offer. Neither do they seem to know that many prominent thinkers in religion are just as serious about dispelling the superstitious and destructive elements in religion. The fact is that some of the best minds in religious thought have worked indefatigably to place religious thinking on a sounder footing within a modern world. These efforts have been an ongoing pursue of those who have been categorized as part of liberal theology.


This liberal movement perhaps found its footing in the historical critical method of biblical criticism that arose at least by the 19th century where scripture was found to be a very important but human document of faithing testaments that non-the-less had inconsistencies and various theologies. Then with theologians like Rudolf Bultmann who advocated the de-mythologizing of scripture and Paul Tillich who affirmed myth but said that it must be de-literalized, many theologians took up the task to embrace the best of all human thinking and experience while still affirming core intuitions about the fabric of the world and its relationship to God. This was also a movement that instead of shunning secular criticism of religion, welcomed it as an important data point for destroying the idolatries of religion. If history is any indicator of religious change it does not find its main traction from outside criticism but rather from criticism coming from within the theological circle.

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