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A Tribute to the Saints for All Saints Day!

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And the Final Answer Is ...?

All Saints Day 2016 - This Year Focuses on The Early Modern Era!

The Beginning of the Modern Era

To some degree the nineteenth century is a continuation of the original passion of the Reformation, after a two century lull. Much of the unfinished business of the reformed thinkers such as Martin Luther and John Calvin was moved forward on the agenda after a post-Reformation scholasticism that tended to close the doors on creative theological thought. Yet the modern age was distinctively modern. New developments in science and philosophy as well as the political and economic development of peoples and cultures were forward-looking and not mere reproductions of patterns already laid down. It was a creative, dynamic time.

For Christian thought the modern age up to the close of World War I provided the presuppositions on which later developments can be evaluated. The breakup of traditional theological axioms whether in doctrine, biblical studies, or in the interpretation of church history required a radical reconsideration of both the heritage and destiny of Christianity.

To select just one representative for each of the major new theological developments of the modern age would in itself make an impressive roll call. Philosophy in Immanuel Kant, dogmatics in Friedrich Schleiermacher, David Strauss in Biblical Criticism, Adolph von Harnack in Church History, William James in the psychology of religion, the social gospel of Walter Rauschenbusch, to mention only a few of the obvious---these were the fermenting spirits of an exhilarating century.

(the marginal characters are Adam and Eve who provide running commentary on each cartoon)

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804 C.E.)

In 1788 Kant addressed the ethical question in his Critique of Practical Reason. The nature of the good is posited on freedom, he argued (I can, therefore, I must), and this issues in a categorical imperative such as the rigorous assertion: “I must act in such a way that I can at the same time will that my maxim should become a universal law.” An important corollary of Kant's ethics was related to theology, for since goodness and justice are required and yet seldom prevail in human society, there must be a God who, as moral arbitrator and divine judge, undergirds and authenticates the categorical imperative, if not now, then hereafter.

Kant's last significant work was published in 1793 under the title: Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone. In this work Kant was once again drawn into the philosophy of religion dialogue. Of no great importance for subsequent philosophy, this little book was substantially influential in shaping the direction which nineteenth theology was to take. Here both the rational and ethical concerns of Kant merge in an interpretation of religion, and of Christianity in particular, which was as ingenious as it was controversial.

Schleiermacher (1768-1834 C.E.)

The fame of Schleiermacher is usually attributed to two major theological works written some twenty years apart and in many ways quite different. The first work bore the descriptive, if somewhat cumbersome, title On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers (1799). It was a series of rambling essays growing out of his association with the Romantic movement which prided itself on cultural sophistication and intellectual humanism. Schleiermacher had much in common with this spirit, but it pained him sorely that religion, for no good reason, was largely disdained by his friends, even as a topic of conversation.

Arguing firmly and politely, Schleiermacher sought to make a place for religious discussion. He was not the least concerned to defend dogma or even to put the Christian religion above other religions. He felt instinctively, however, that religious emotion, at the sublime level manifested its own integrity.

Twenty years later Schleiermacher published a substantial work on systematic theology known simply as The Christian Faith (1820-1821; 2nd edition 1830-1831). It was the first creatively original structure of doctrine since John Calvin's Institutes, three hundred years earlier. Drawing upon biblical criticism and the classic Christian tradition enshrined in the evangelical Reformation creeds, Schleiermacher sought to re-present the Christian faith in such a way as to retain the living tradition and at the same time to move ahead into the new day.

Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855 C.E.)

Standing with both feet in the nineteenth century and speaking to his own time, Kierkegaard was not heeded until a hundred years later. He seems, in retrospect, to have been born prematurely; most of his contemporaries ignored him or put him down as a crank, a fanatic. He wrote in Danish, a minor European language, adopted cryptic literary devices such as pseudonyms, scorned and ridiculed all accepted conventions of his day---it is perhaps no wonder that recognition was late in coming. Yet the influence of this eccentric thinker become so pervasive in later philosophical and theological thought, that without him the current status of either is unintelligible.

Soren Kierkegaard was born in Copenhagen in 1813 and died in his birthplace at the early age of forty-two. His life was a riddle; his relationship with his stern, moralistic father disturbed him deeply; his broken marriage engagement haunted him; his critical diatribes against church and state isolated him. Turning to writing as a career and an outlet for his views, he became a prolific author of a series of books, monographs, and articles in an almost endless variety of literary forms. On the basis of his authorship, Kierkegaard could easily qualify as a novelist, essayist, satirist, philosopher, humorist, theologian, psychologist, journalist, sociologist, poet.

The Periodic Table of Christian Theology!


The history of Christian theology can be a daunting, even forbidding field for the novice, who sees neither the need for nor pertinence of rummaging around dusty old texts. This people-friendly volume, a full-scale reader in the history of Christian theology, offers an easy, non-threatening, occasionally humorous yet quite thorough entry into Christianity's central texts from the Apostolic Fathers to Mary Daly.

It is also enlivened by dozens of cartoons by Rich Diesslin. Highly accessible introductions to five periods precede brief introductions to and texts from more than fifty key thinkers. The texts highlight perennial themes and questions in Christian tradition, especially the meaning and importance of Jesus, challenges to the institutional church, tensions of faith and reason, spirituality, and the Christian quest for social justice.

The second edition, 50% larger than the original, adding significant work from the Cappadocian Fathers and the Christological controversialists, the Franciscan tradition, the Radical and English reforms, and deeper coverage of twentieth-century theologians. With learning aids, research-paper suggestions and guide, and glossary.

This All Saints Day Tour is Brought to You by ...

A Journey Through Christain Theology

Augsburg Fortress Press
2nd Edition May 2010
ISBN: 9780800696979

2nd Edition Book Cover

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