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1517 Media
Issues in Contemporary Christian Thought: A Fortress Introduction

Issues in Contemporary Christian Thought: A Fortress Introduction

by Duane OlsonDuane Olson


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Duane Olson's new textbook uniquely focuses on the central points at issue in contemporary Christian reflection. Olson's clear and concise overview roots contemporary questions firmly in Christian responses to the Enlightenment. This allows Olson to unfold those questions as bequeathed by modernity and to show how the radical reframing of the current period actually builds on the diversity of those lingering concerns.

Olson discusses the range of contemporary opinions, their rationales, and what's at stake. He illustrates these alternate frameworks as they play out in central concerns over the being of God in relation to the universe, how to understand the figure of Christ today, and the distinctively new notions of being human. Olson's text includes reflection and research questions, suggestions for further reading, and a glossary.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780800696658
Publisher: 1517 Media
Publication date: 04/01/2011
Series: Fortress Introductions
Pages: 312
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Duane Olson is Associate Professor of Religion at McKendree University, Lebanon, Illinois, where he has taught for nine years. Most of his publishing has been on the thought of Paul Tillich, and he has served on the board of the North American Paul Tillich Society

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Part 1 Understanding Contemporary Christian Thought

Chapter 1 Setting the Stage: Christianity and the Developments of Modernity 3

The Enlightenment and the Development of Critical and Autonomous Reason 5

Historical Criticism of the Bible 11

The Two Main Hypotheses of Historical Criticism 12

Theological Questions and Challenges Raised by Historical Criticism 15

Chapter 2 Surveying the Field: Options in Contemporary Christian Thought 21

Biblical Literalism 22

Evidence for Truth 27

Biblical Literalists in the United States 29

Theological Literalism 30

Faith and Reason 34

Theological Literalists in the United States 35

Theological Reinterpreters 35

Panentheism and Its Implications 38

The Place of Theological Reinterpreters in the Church 41

Part 2 Classical Christian Thought and Contemporary Transformations

Chapter 3 God and Cosmology 45

Biblical and Greek Roots of the Christian Idea of God 45

Transformations in Reflection on God during the Enlightenment 51

Justifying Belief in God in the Contemporary Period Karl Barth Paul Tillich 56

Limits of Rational Thought: Barth 57

Awareness of God through Ultimate Concern: Tillich 58

God and God's Relation to the Universe in Panentheism 59

Human Language about God 65

Metaphors of God and the Analogy of Being 65

Human Language about God and Contemporary Theology 68

Chapter 4 Christ and History 71

Historical Background: Jewish Hopes for a Messiah 71

The Development of Classical Christology 74

Historical Background: New Testament Gospels to the Nicene Creed 74

Jesus the Christ in Classical Christology 84

The Historical Jesus and Christology in the Contemporary Period 95

The Quest for the Historical Jesus 97

Directions in Contemporary Christology 99

Liberation Theology 99

Existentialist Theology 102

Theology of Hope 104

Chapter 5 Heaven, Hell, and Anthropology 107

Biblical and Greek Views of Humanity and Human Destiny 107

Mainstream Old Testament Belief in Sheol 107

Development of Apocalypticism and Belief in Resurrection 109

Greek Thought and Belief in an Immortal Soul 113

Classical Christian Eschatology 114

Fusion of Greek Anthropology and Hebrew Teleology 114

Original Sin, Grace, and Human Destiny 118

Contemporary Alternatives Regarding the Afterlife 120

The Interdependent and Evolutionary Understanding of Human Beings 120

Resurrection or Determined Agnosticism 122

Progress in the Afterlife John Hick 124

Process Theology's Limited God and the Afterlife 127

Part 3 Christianity and Cultural Transformations

Chapter 6 Christianity and Other Religions 135

A Framework for Understanding Christianity's Relationship to Other Religions 138

Historical Exclusivism and Articulation of the Issues 140

Types of Contemporary Exclusivism 144

Christianity Is Exclusively True and the Exclusive Place of Salvation: Sectarian Protestantism 144

Christianity Is Exclusively True, but Salvation Is for Everyone Karl Barth 145

The World Religions Have Some Truth, but Christianity Is the Exclusive Place of Salvation: Evangelical Protestantism 148

Inclusivism 151

Emergence of Inclusivism 151

Salvation Occurs in All Religions, but Christianity Is Completely True Karl Rahner 153

Pluralism 156

Salvation Occurs in All Religions, and No Religion Is Exclusively True John Hick 156

Criticisms of Hick: Self-Conscious Inclusivism and Exclusivism 161

Chapter 7 Christianity and Feminism 165

The Why and What of Feminist Theology 167

Feminist Theology and the Bible 169

The Twofold Approach to the Bible and Its Interpretation 170

Exposing and Critiquing Patriarchy in Text and Interpretation 171

Liberating Appropriation of the Text 177

Women's Leadership in the Church 180

Evangelical Protestants, the Bible, and Women's Ordination 181

Roman Catholics and Women's Ordination 183

Language for God 184

Significance of Male God-Language 185

Feminist Arguments for Change from Exclusively Male God-Language 187

Sin and Salvation 192

Sin as Self-Negation, Layered Oppression, and Structural Reality 192

Salvation 195

Chapter 8 Christianity and Homosexuality 199

Sources of Authority according to the Main Christian Groups 200

Roman Catholicism, the Church Hierarchy, and Homosexuality 201

Sources of Authority in Evangelical and Mainline Protestant Groups 203

Biblical Passages on Homosexuality 207

Old Testament 208

New Testament 211

Arguments from Human Reason and Scriptural Themes 214

Human Reason 215

Biblical Themes 221

Chapter 9 Christianity and the Natural Environment 225

The Anti-environmental Charge against Christianity 227

Stewardship of Creation 230

Salvation History, Eschatology, and Ecology 234

The Transformation of Nonhuman Creation Denis Edwards 234

Overcoming Christianity's Ecological Ambiguity Paul Santmire 236

Creation Spirituality 239

Original Blessing and the Cosmic Christ Matthew Fox 240

The Universe Story Thomas Berry Brian Swimme 244

Discussion Questions and Further Reading 249

Notes 263

Glossary 281

Index 293

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