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By John Allan Knight

The divide among liberal and postliberal theology is likely one of the most vital and far-reaching methodological disputes in twentieth-century theology. Their divergence in technique introduced comparable changes of their ways to hermeneutics and spiritual language. This break up within the figuring out of spiritual language is generally said, yet rigorous philosophical research and evaluate of it's seldom visible.

Liberalism as opposed to Postliberalism offers such analyses, utilizing the advancements in analytic philosophy of language over the last 40 years. The booklet presents an unique examining of the "theology and falsification" debates of the Fifties and 60s, and Knight's interpretation of the debates provides a philosophical lens that brings into concentration the centrality of spiritual language within the methodological dispute among liberal and postliberal theologians. Knight means that fresh philosophical advancements demonstrate issues of either positions and argues for a extra inclusive technique that takes heavily the aspirations of the debaters. His booklet makes an enormous contribution to modern theological technique, to the knowledge of liberal and postliberal theologies, and to our figuring out of the position of analytic philosophy in modern theology and non secular stories.

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Extra info for Liberalism versus Postliberalism: The Great Divide in Twentieth-Century Theology

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We cannot despise religion without also despising humanity; to leave out religion is to impoverish human life. Romantic despisers of religion are being quite inconsistent with Romanticism. If religion is a universal human characteristic, how should we understand particular positive religion? Deists had argued that Christianity is true only insofar as it represented the core common to all religion. Thus, whatever was particular about it was superfluous. For Schleiermacher, this core, natural religion, is an armchair construct corresponding to no reality at all.

But the challenge posed by the falsification theorists ultimately relied less on the falsifiability thesis of logical positivism than on the descriptivist requirements specified by Bertrand Russell for successful reference. Russell’s analysis of reference was certainly assumed by the logical positivists, but it did not entail the falsifiability thesis defended by the logical positivists. And indeed Russell’s view of language remained the dominant view long after the demise of logical positivism as a viable philosophical project.

And while many take that challenge to have been answered, in my own view it continues to have substantial analytical importance. It profoundly influenced the way the three themes in liberal theology that I’ve discussed in this chapter were developed by liberal theologians in the twentieth century, at least from the middle of the century onward. It also exerted a significant influence on the contours of the debate between liberal and postliberal theologians in the latter part of the twentieth century.

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