A.    Liberal Theology

1.    Background

a.    Pietism -- seeking deeper spiritual experience:
revolt against formalism of church life, lack of spiritual daily life, and the absence of evangelism
b.    Spencer (1635-1705) -- protesting the formalism of religion:
suggests that: greater use of the Word of God, more spiritual devotions, practice holy living
c.    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

d.    Biblical Criticism -- reevaluating the trustworthiness of the Bible

- Textual C -- recovery of the original text (Lower Criticism)
- Form C -- study of different forms of literature (development, style, and meaning of Scripture)
- Source C -- study of source of Scripture (e.g. Q source)
e.    Evaluation: causing doubts about authenticity and truthfulness of the Bible and consequently the Christian faith, resulting widespread attitude of knowledge above the Bible, and the rejection of the supernatural. However, the work can be channelled to good use in studying the Bible if the humanistic assumptions are filtered out.
2.    Liberal theology
a.    Main points -- trusting the moral capability of man:
- accepts concepts of Darwinian social evolution (Huxley) of increasing knowledge of the good and upward human progress (perfectible man)
- prepared to sacrifice many elements of traditional Christian beliefs in search for contemporary relevance (modernization of theology)
- Jesus as a moral model, revealing to the disciples only the way to practice a life of love, refuting the deity of Jesus -- "no Christ but Jesus"
b.    Schleiermacher (1768-1834) -- romantic religion:
- importance of doctrines only in terms of contribution to religious experience
- Jesus came not to atone but to set an example and to arouse in us the consciousness of God
c.    Ritschl (1822-1899) -- Jesus the perfect man:
- denies original sin, no wrath of God against sin, reconciliation brought by Jesus Christ is a change in our attitude to God
- Jesus' deity only means his perfect humanity
d.    Harnack (1851-1931) -- quest of historical Christianity:
- Jesus did not preach about Himself but the message of brotherhood of man and fatherhood of God
e.    Fosdick (1878-1960) -- religion to serve the society:
- religion to lead society in ethics
- education and social action would create an ideal social order
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:
- gospel to the individual not as important as the salvation of the mass
- perfect society to be built by cooperation and love among mankind
b.    Rauschenbusch (1861-1918) -- sin is selfishness:
- felt a need to minister to the victims of social indifference, political corruption, and economic greed
- sin is selfishness and greed that result social ills
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

B.    Neo-Orthodoxy and Related Theologies

1.    Neo-orthodox theology

a.    Main points -- dialectical theology:
- dialectical theology: all doctrines are paradoxical and contain two opposite sides (thesis and antithesis), anxiety or crisis is the result, faith is the action to accept the doctrines.
- Jesus Christ as the centre of the Bible and the centre of theology.
- The Bible contains the word of God and is not inerrant.
b.    Barth (1886-1968) -- Jesus Christ as the revealed Word of God:
- God's 'revealed word' is the event of God speaking to man and revealing Himself through Jesus Christ. The Bible, God's 'written word', is the witness to the event of God's revelation. The church, through the 'proclaimed word' (in preaching, theology, sacrament), also bears witness to the revealed word.
- The written word and proclaimed word are not themselves revelation. When God chooses, the written and proclaimed word actually become revelation.
- Jesus Christ is the centre of the Bible.
c.    Brunner (1889-1966) -- I-Thou relationship between man and God:
- Jesus is the direct revealed Word which enables reconciliation between God and man. The Bible is the indirect spoken Word which like a pointer points to God. But the Bible contains errors.
- I-Thou relationship: Man has the tendency to seek God. This tendency is faith which will raise the state of man.
d.    Niebuhr (1892-1971) -- Christianity's social relevance:
- emphasizes original sin in its social and historical manifestations, conflict in human nature between self-consciousness and self-pride
- redeeming love in man would bring answers to human social needs
e.    Evaluation: return from the extremes of liberal theology; emphasis on the importance of the Bible; under the influence of existentialism; subjective judgment of revelation; occasional compromise of biblical beliefs in favour of modern interpretations. Barth's theology is progressively more acceptable today by evangelical theologians.
2.    Secular theology
a.    Main points -- refitting Christianity for the secular world:
- intends to reach the secular society
- tries to eliminate the barrier between church and the world
b.    Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) -- the cost of discipleship:
- Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession.
- concerned about how to confront secular religionless man
- religionless Christianity -- Jesus Christ as 'lord of the religionless'; Christianity should be purged of the transcendence of God, individualism and isolation.
c.    Cox (1929- ) -- secularization not secularism:
- Secularization is an inevitable beneficial social development and is characterized in the history recorded in the Bible.
- God is the God of the world, not only in religion
- Secularism should be rejected because it is the belief in anything that is not divine and may itself turn into religion.
d.    Rahner (1904- ) -- anonymous Christianity:
- instead of the ancient "outside the church there is no salvation" doctrine, new theory of 'anonymous Christianity' -- all people have the chance to believe
- everyone's experience of the transcendent is an experience of God
e.    Evaluation: the intention to bring Christianity into the secular world is good; but forget the commandments to separate from the world and to extend the Kingdom of God; man becomes the centre of theology; degenerates into universalism (all mankind is saved); influence the situation ethics of Fletcher where love is used as the norm of all moral decisions; related to death-of-God theology
3.    Historical theology
a.    Main points -- the role of history in theology:
- need for historical study to prove the authenticity of biblical record
b.    Cullmann -- the importance of salvation history:
- Bible only a record of history, not the final authority
- salvation is a process that extends from incarnation to the second coming
c.    Pannenberg -- faith rooted in history:
- The Biblical data must be dealt with by the same historical method that all other historical data are. The truthfulness of the Bible is dependent on historical investigation.
d.    Evaluation: brings theology back into contact with history; offers a valuable corrective to major trends of contemporary theology; however, faith is more than rational evaluation of evidence.

C.    Existential Theology and Related Theologies

- 3 directions in regard to the existence of God:
- unreachable God
- evolving God
- non-existing God
1. Existential theology
a.    Main points -- Christianity in terms of man's subjective existence:
- knowledge of God impossible or incomplete
- existence affirmed by the encounter with God which is brought about by subjective faith
- the Bible provides little help in the way of faith
b.    Kierkegaard (1813-1855) -- the infinite gulf between God and man:
- infinite qualitative distinction between God (the Wholly Other) and man; rational knowledge of God impossible
- existential self: "To exist is to be with oneself alone before God", by encountering with God in isolation from the group (church)
c.    Bultmann (1884-1976) -- demythologization, gospel without myth:
- critical research into the past is unable to recover the actual historical events of Jesus' life; concludes that we know very little about the person, teachings or life of Christ
- Myths are the result of exaggerations of the writers and historical and cultural limitations of the readers. To understand the real message, all myths in the gospel must be dispelled.
- Christ opens up a new existential self-understanding not only of oneself but also of oneself in relation to God and to the world. This is faith.
d.    Tillich (1886-1965) -- God as ground of being:
- encounter with God is experiential and existential
- religion is the ultimate concern and commitment to God
- Sin is estrangment from God which can be overcome by a person having religion
e.    Evaluation: often degenerates into a description of human existence; low opinion of the Bible; biblical truth obscured by philosophical arguments; gospel of salvation neglected; influence the development of death-of-God theology
2.    Process theology
a.    Main points -- the evolving God:
- dynamic (always evolving) concept of reality, both in relation to the material world and to God.
b.    Hartshorne -- God as both cause and effect:
- God is an eternally becoming reality and He both affects and is affected by the world (cause and effect).
- God gives the universe a real though limited freedom so that we can become cause and He become effect. If I reject Him, I grieve Him.
c.    Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) -- evolutionary theology:
- creation as the process of evolution, sin and evil as the inevitable imperfection that accompanies evolutionary process
- human history evolving to the climax when all will be consummated in Christ - 'the Omega point'
d.    Evaluation: a fresh and new approach which sheds light on the biblical doctrine of God; but distorts some biblical doctrines; denies that God knows the future on the ground that it does not yet exist (God as a prisoner of time); making God dependent upon the universe
3.    Death-of-God theology
a.    Main points -- absence of God from all aspects of mankind:
- questions the reality of God
- Everything gets along without God and just as well as before.
b.    Altizer -- God died on the cross:
- God is gone from the present times, history, and existence.
- To completely enter human history, God died in the form of Jesus (self-annihilation).
c.    Hamilton -- losing hope with God:
- Christianity to concentrate on Jesus, a man serving the world
- lose hope with God, only live the present with love
d.    Van Buren (1924- ) -- a religion suitable for modern man:
- need to forget God and reestablish Christianity without the a priori God
- take Jesus as the model of mankind, as the influence of love
e.    Evaluation: complete deviation from theism; cannot be properly described as Christianity; religion becomes a moral way of life; indicates a breakdown of civilization as mankind approach the point of despair

D.    Ecumenism and Related Theologies

- 3 directions:
- organizational unity of all Christians (1-2)
- action for the oppressed (3-6)
- adaptation of Christianity into various cultures (7)
1.    Development of ecumenism
a.    Main points -- towards a unity of religion:
- based on biblical teaching (Jn 17:11,22,23) and experience of early church (Ac 1:14, 2:46-47, 4:24,32,33, 5:14)
b.    Levels of ecumenism:
- unity among individual Christians
- unity among Protestant Christian denominations
- unity between Protestants and the Roman Catholic church
- unity among all religions
c.    World Council of Churches (WCC) -- unity above doctrine:
- established in 1948, arising from 3 earlier movements
- many denominations with wide spectrum of doctrinal positions
- At Uppsala (1968), evangelism not emphasized; adoption of radical positions such as 'anonymous Christianity', salvation as humanization, and universalism; restoration of true manhood in Jesus Christ includes greater justice, freedom and dignity
- At Nairobi (1975), retreat from radical positions; "the whole church bringing the whole gospel to the whole person in the whole world"; whole gospel includes both reconciliation to God and the responsibility to participate in the struggle for justice and human dignity; emphasized both evangelism and social action
d.    World Evangelical Fellowship -- unity in spreading the gospel:
- established in 1951
- seeks to protect orthodox biblical beliefs
- evangelism as the major task
- regional conferences such as World Chinese Evangelical Conference in Hong Kong in 1976
- International Congress on World Evangelism at Lusanne (1974) led by Billy Graham and John Stott
- attitude of penitence instead of triumphalism, manifest in the expression of Christian social responsibility (behind the vital urgency of the preaching of the gospel to the whole world)
e.    International Council of Christian Churches -- doctrinal purity above unity:
- established in 1948 in opposition to WCC
- attacks WCC and encourages Christians to leave WCC
f.    Evaluation: organizational unity (such as Lusanne Congress) helps world evangelization efforts; should seek a balance between spiritual unity and doctrinal unity; positive trend towards a common position from the first two camps
2.    Roman Catholic Church
- proclamation of the doctrine of immaculate (sinless) conception of Mary in 1854:
- doctrine not based on Scripture or tradition (Augustine and Aquinas expressly denied it), but just consensus of contemporary church
a.    Vatican I (1869-1870) -- papal infallibility:
- "ex cathedra" pronouncements only (as the apostle)
- only in theology and ethics
- infallibility from God, thus not required to consult the church
- tradition can be altered
- proclamation of the doctrine of Mary's assumption to heaven (like Enoch and Elijah) in 1950
- no support from Scripture or tradition, declared by Pope Pius XII using papal authority
b.    Vatican II (1962-1965) -- retreat from excesses:
- much more progressive than Vatican I
- encouraged translation and reading of Bible, but with caution ("under the watchful care of the church")
- reaffirmed tradition
- rejected religious prosecution, willing to admit past mistakes (such as the Inquisition)
c.    Kung (1928- ) -- Catholic rebel:
- theology largely based on the Bible and mostly disapproved by Rome
- argues that infallibility is not possible, rather indefectibility
- the real role of pope is service and pastoral ministry to the whole church, not sovereignty
d.    Evaluation: recent tendency to retreat from past excesses; regard Protestants as 'separated brethren' rather than wicked heretics; still hold many doctrines unacceptable to Protestants (papal infallibility, doctrines related to Mary); the process of merging with the Anglican church being studied
3.    Black theology
a.    Main points -- suffering and freedom:
- tries to elevate the social position and political power of the blacks, even by revolution
- pietism expressed in public worship
- the use of violence to achieve equality
b.    Martin Luther King (1929-1968) -- dream of justice:
- achieving justice not by violence, but by truth force or love force
- believes in the redemptive power of innocent suffering (God would use undeserved suffering to bring reconciliation), as exemplified by Jesus
c.    Evaluation: Like liberation theology and feminist theology, the insistence on one major issue overshadows the whole message of the gospel. In addition, biblical principles are sometimes bent to fit human thoughts. The advocation of violence is non biblical.
4.    Liberation theology
a.    Main points -- Christians of the revolution:
- theology from the point of view of the oppressed
- deeds (actions) have priority over words
- salvation of Jesus equivalent to liberation of the oppressed from social injustice
b.    Gutierrez (1928- ) -- salvation is liberation:
- The poor are victims of institutional violence
- Christ is the Liberator, with 3 different aspects of the salvation: liberation from oppression, liberation to assuming responsibility for his own destiny, and liberation from sin which is the ultimate root of all disruption of friendship and of all injustice and oppression.
- Evangelism is the proclamation of the good news of the liberation Christ came to bring us.
- Evaluation: lack of emphasis in the forgiveness aspect; biased definition of sin and salvation; the real gospel message of spiritual salvation and the individual's reconciliation with God buried beneath the call for social justice; occasional call for violence and revolution not biblical
5.    Theology of hope
a.    Main points -- hope of the future in God's promise:
- God's revelation is in the form of promise with a future fulfilment.
- The promise prompts us to develop practical ways of bringing about change in the present, mainly the alleviation of pain and suffering, and the restoration of justice.
b.    Moltmann -- mission to transform the world:
- every Christian to have the eschatological outlook
- revelation is interpreted as God's promise
- goal of mission is not merely an individual spiritual salvation but also the realization of the hope of justice, the socializing of humanity, and peace for all creation
c.    Evaluation: some values in the concentration on eschatology and hope; lacking in aspects of personal witness and spiritual growth; influences the over-emphasis of social action of the WCC (in Uppsala)
6.    Feminist theology
a.    Main points -- fighting the inequality of the sexes:
- against sexism in the Bible
- dispense old sexual stereotypes
- rejection of male domination in all aspects of life
b.    Ruether -- promoting full humanity of women:
- God is not male
- Sin is both personal and social, particularly the oppressive relationship between the sexes
- a new style of family life where child-rearing is to be shared equally by man and woman
- Evaluation: a worthy and noble cause; biblical meaning sometimes overstretched by arguing for a different interpretation of salvation
7.    Contextualization
a.    Main points -- put Christianity into the context of the indigenous culture:
- displace the widespread perception of Christianity coming with imperialism
- accept Christianity without sacrificing the pre-Christian culture
b.    Chow Yi-Fu ( ) -- Christianity explained in the concepts of Chinese philosophy:
- uses Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist concepts and principles to explain Christianity
- uses biblical principles to compensate the inadequacies of traditional Chinese culture
c.    Tse Fu-Ya ( ) -- concept of God in Chinese culture:
- defines the concept of religion and of God in Chinese culture
- equates Chinese concepts to biblical concepts
d.    Chang Lit-Sang ( ) -- Christianity supersedes Chinese culture:
- analyzes the vital concepts in Chinese culture and Christianity
- concludes that there is no contradiction between the two but Christianity should guide the development of the Chinese culture
e.    Hsu Hsiung-Sze ( ) -- comparison of Christianity and Chinese culture:
- compares traditional Chinese religions and Christianity in terms of view of life and religion and concludes that Christianity is superior
- emphasizes the need to retain orthodox Christian beliefs which can then alter Chinese culture and Chinese churches
f.    Koyama ( ) (1929- ) -- God in a tranquil culture of southeast Asia:
- 'Water Buffalo Theology' for southeast Asia
- expresses Christianity within the context of a culture with a different rhythm of life (e.g. God walks slowly because He is love. If He is not love He would have gone much faster.)
g.    Mbiti (1931- ) -- no imported Christianity:
- appreciative but critical of missionary movement in Africa because of the 'imported Christianity' -- brought westernized Christianity seeking to impose it on Africa (including dress, music, buildings)
- upholds the need for African Christianity (with genuine African worship, community life, education, and values) not western Christianity
h.    Evaluation: valuable emphasis, especially for those cultures that are threatened; need to preserve orthodox Christian faith; but possible for indigenous forms of practising faith

E.    Evangelicalism

1.    History

a.    Fundamentalism -- no compromise on Biblical truth:
- Publication of 12-volume series (90 doctrinal statements) entitled "The Fundamentals" in 1909, upholds traditional doctrines
- Negative aspects: extreme dispensationalism, emotionalism and anti-intellectual, isolation from the society, hostile to culture, individual pietism, rivalry in theology, emphasis on spiritual unity of the church but not organizational unity
b.    Conservative theology -- preserve traditional doctrines:
- inerrancy and absolute authority of Bible in faith and practice
- deity of Christ, virginal birth, atonement, second coming
- need for rebirth and sanctification
c.    Evangelicalism -- spreading the good news of the changeless Bible:
- spreading the gospel which converts sinners to believers is the main task
- seeks to adapt the gospel to the modern world but without any distortion to the Biblical gospel
d.    Contemporary situation in the U.S. -- internal battles:
- Separatist fundamentalists -- non-compromise attitude; separate from Christians with slightly different beliefs; absolute inerrancy of the Bible; dispensationalism; pre-millenianism; war against morally deteriorating society, such as demonstrations
- Open fundamentalists -- similar beliefs as above but non-confrontational; emphasis on education; not involved in social justice
- Established evangelicals -- concentrate on evangelism, defend historicity and authority of the Bible against liberal theology, avoid confrontations with other evangelicals, stress Christian's role in social justice
- New evangelicals -- same beliefs as above, emphasize new way to present Biblical truths, oppose to dispensationalism, tolerance to different schools of eschatology, some harmonization with science (such as progressive creationism)
e.    Evaluation: close to orthodox Christianity, all emphasize evangelism; unnecessary division based on differences in non-fundamental doctrines because of intolerance; forget about the dangerous enemies of modernism, heretical beliefs and cults; should learn to 'agree to disagree'
2.    Dispensationalism
a.    Main points -- God's different treatments to different times:
- insist on literal interpretation of the Bible
- OT prophecy not related to NT church, only for Jews
- History is divided into 7 periods (dispensations). During each period, God treats mankind differently and gives mankind different responsibilities and obligations. Now is the Dispensation of Grace, from the resurrection of Jesus to the millennium.
- The Kingdom of God is only for the future, never in this world.
- pre-tribulational secret rapture of the church
b.    Evaluation: over-insistence on non-fundamental doctrines such as millennium, partition of the Bible into parts for the Jews and parts for the church, neglect problems in the world (isolationism, or ghetto mentality), caused unnecessary division among evangelicals
3.    Evangelical theologians
a.    Finney (1792-1875) -- promoting revival:
- conversion as an act of human will, emphasis on human responsibility ('New school' Calvinism), in contrast to the prevailing teaching of passive waiting on God
- The will is totally unconditioned and random; doctrine of original sin denied.
b.    Hodge (1797-1878) -- great systematic theologian since the Reformation:
- declaration of traditional Christian doctrines in his "Systematic Theology" based on the authority of the Bible
c.    Warfield (1851-1915) -- the infallible Bible:
- The Scripture writers wrote precisely what God wanted. Thus the message of the Bible is God's message and the Bible can be called God's word. But it is not in the form of dictation.

d.    Stott -- defender of evangelical faith and a total gospel:

- Christian truth centred in Christ
- defend the orthodoxy of evangelicalism
- the total gospel satisfies both spiritual needs and physical needs (emphasizing social responsibility of Christians)
e.    Schaeffer -- philosophical apologete:
- proves the existence of God philosophically as a metaphysical necessity, moral necessity, epistemological necessity
f.    Berkouwer (1903- ) -- the humanity of the Bible:
- theology not to be a logically coherent system for its own sake but must relate to the Bible and to the needs of the pulpit
- Bible is 'God-breathed' but is written by man in a historical setting.
- The reliability of the Bible must be seen in terms of its purpose (2Ti 3:16-17).
g.    Thielicke (1908- ) -- preaching to the modern people:
- always seeks to relate the gospel to actual situation of the modern man; but must not happen by a process of accommodation -- by pruning the gospel to make if fit a modern world-view
- wishes to rescue Christian dogmas from the sphere of the otherworldly and bring the church out of the ghetto and back to the earth.
- importance of both theology and ethics, faith and practice
h.    Bruce -- evangelical exegete:
- proof to historicity, accuracy, reliability and authority of the Bible
- defence of the gospel against the world
i.    Carl Henry -- revelation as truth:
- proposes 6 responsibilities of evangelicals: back to biblical theology, proclaiming God's salvation, renewing fellowship of the believers, encouraging personal experience of Christians, affirming the positive value of science, abandoning split among denominations
j.    Ramm -- action from evangelical heritage:
- 5 actions from evangelical heritage: study the Bible and spread the gospel, understand the content of evangelical theology, sensitive to the progress of mankind, learn different languages, find new ways to proclaim God to the world
k.    Chang Lit-Sang ( ) -- repelling humanism:
- humanism as the source of human tragedy; humanism as illogical based on facts, morality and religion
- China to be saved by the gospel
l.    Philip Teng ( ) -- Christianity without excesses:
- strong criticism of new morality but Christians must face the challenge of the times
- the church should be an existential church stressing dedication, involvement and commitment
- stresses cooperation in the form of building bridges:
- between different denominations
- between believers
- between church and supportive organizations on gospel work
- between local evangelism and overseas evangelism
- between spiritual gifts and training
m.    Evaluation: all based on the authority of the Bible as the Word of God; use intellect and reasoning to explain the revelation of God and to defend the gospel; emphasize the importance of Christian living; present the gospel to the world in modern terms yet not compromising the truth

F.    Conclusion

1.    Orthodox Christianity

- Main doctrines that differentiate orthodoxy: authority of the Bible based on objective revelation and inerrancy, virginal birth of Jesus, deity of Jesus, death of substitutionary atonement, bodily resurrection, bodily second coming.
- Other indication of modernism: disbelieve authenticity of the Bible, Pentateuch not written by Moses but much later, evolutionary theory of the Hebrew religion, most OT books written much later than commonly held, NT epistles not written by Paul, lack of truth in the gospels, believe in Darwinian social evolution.
- Recommended textbooks for systematic theology: Charles Hodge, Louis Berkhof, Oliver Buswell, Millard Erickson

2.    Future direction

7 directions of Evangelicalism (Paul Szeto):

(1) Biblical-evangelical: relying on the authority of the Bible
(2) Spiritual-evangelical: need for spiritual growth
(3) Historical-evangelical: gospel as historical reality
(4) Practical-evangelical: Christian witness
(5) Intellectual-evangelical: understand what we believe
(6) Cultural-evangelical: transform culture
(7) Social-evangelical: relevant to society

3.    Coping with the confusion
a. Weapon in the spiritual warfare
- firm foundation in the Bible, the Word of God, the sword of the Holy Spirit (Eph 6:17)
b. General principle:
- distinguish essential doctrines from non-essential ones
- making sure what is incorrect before making criticism
c. Use of the course:
- learn the good points in each school of theology
- discern what is not biblical or over-stretching of truth
- will be less vulnerable (thus less attracted) to the shock of new ideas and know how to respond