NB: This is the fourth part in a short series that will be summarizing and, at times, interacting with Mark Lilla’s The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West (Vintage, 2007).
After exploring the shift in philosophy and theology brought by the thinking of Georg Hegel, Lilla moves on in his next chapter to explore the rise of liberal theology. As always, it is helpful to begin with definitions. A movement that began in the Protestant churches of the United States and Europe, Lilla characterizes the term liberal theology as having different connotations in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. During the former, a liberal theologian:
“…would have been someone critical of traditional orthodoxies and authoritarianism, a preacher of toleration among the Christian faiths, someone who welcomed the challenge of modern science as an opportunity to sift out the essential moral teaching of the gospel from the mythical and superstitious chaff obscuring it. Such a theologian would have deemphasized original sin and spoken of the grand possibilities of human self-improvement and the need to defend freedom of religious conscience, and of the benevolence of a caring God.” Continue reading »