Liberal Theology

Authored by: J. B. Stump

The Routledge Companion to Modern Christian Thought

Print publication date:  March  2013
Online publication date:  October  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415782173
eBook ISBN: 9780203387856
Adobe ISBN: 9781136677922


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The term “liberal” can mean many different things depending on the context in which it is used. Even as a qualifier for a specific kind of theology, there are several different possibilities for what could be meant. Among academic theologians, “liberal theology” typically refers to a specific historical period in the development of Christian theology ranging from the nineteenth century through the early part of the twentieth century, during which several prominent Protestant theologians of German origin adopted “liberal” to describe their approach to theology. Understood in this way, there are several unifying themes that characterize our subject matter, including an emphasis on the ethical dimension of religious belief and practice, a reappropriation of theological terms and concepts within the context of the modern world, and reconsideration of the place of theology among the academic disciplines. It is this last theme which provides the most illuminating starting-point for understanding theological liberalism.

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