A. Liberal Theology and Related Theologies

1.    Background

a.    Pietism [seeking deeper spiritual experience]
  • revolt against formalism of church life, lack of spiritual daily life, and the absence of evangelism
  • Spencer [protesting the formalism of religion]: suggests greater use of the Word of God, practice spiritual gifts, spread the gospel, defend the truth, more spiritual devotions, practice holy living
  • Evaluation: influenced spiritual revivals of the Wesleys and Jonathan Edwards in U.S., but overemphasis of subjective feelings, lack of knowledge in doctrines and non-participation in the society, legalism in daily life; the emphasis on experience underlies liberal theology
  • b.    Biblical Criticism [reevaluating the trustworthiness of the Bible]
    2.    Liberal theology
    a.    Main points [trusting the moral capability of man] b.    Schleiermacher [romantic religion] c.    Ritschl [Jesus the perfect man] d.    Harnack [quest of historical Christianity] e.    Fosdick [religion to serve the society] f.    Evaluation: inadequate view of man's sinfulness and God's wrath, diverted from the basic elements of salvation, deviates from traditional Biblical beliefs by conforming to the perceived needs (not real needs) of the world, disputes the deity of Jesus, disruption of the dream of human paradise by the First World War
    3.    Social gospel
    a.    Main points [crusading for a Kingdom of social justice] b.    Rauschenbusch [sin is selfishness] c.    Evaluation: a reaction to the social injustice, with good intentions but trust too much in the goodness in man, the gospel message of salvation is changed to a message of social justice, partial origin of liberation theology