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Theology Built on Vapors:
The Rise and Diffusion of Postliberal Theology
Post-what? It’s not all that long ago that we had to learn about postmodernism, and many of us found it to be a pretty wiggly idea. Now we’re supposed to learn about postliberalism. Couldn’t we just declare ourselves to be post-postliberal and spare ourselves the agony of learning the name of another theological label that only people in seminaries and universities will ever use anyway until it is replaced by the next fad?
As understandable as this attitude may be, the truth is that the term “postliberal” refers to a way of thinking that is bringing about large-scale changes in today’s church. Sometimes some of the most powerful ideas, whether for good or ill, come in obscure packages, and we ignore them at serious risk. For example, we may have heard about the philosopher G.W.F. Hegel, but I suspect few of us have read him, and even fewer have been able to understand him. Hegel’s writing is hard to follow and seems to be well suited for the ivory tower. Who would have thought back in the early 19th century that a hundred years later his ideas would contribute to events that changed the entire world. Hegel’s philosophy was a crucial influence on Karl Marx, and the rest is history. So, we need to be very careful; sometimes an apparently meaningless and unnecessary label may conceal an idea that, without the label, is bringing about major changes in the world...
Winfried Corduan, Theologian, is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Religion at Taylor University in Indiana. He earned his M.A. in Philosophy of Religion from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and his Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Rice University, Houston, Texas. His books cover a wide variety of subject matter, including Handmaid to Theology (1981-philosophical theology), No Doubt About It, (1993-apologetics), The Holman Old Testament Commentary—1 & 2 Chronicles (2004), and The Pocket Guide to World Religions (2006).