Postliberal Approaches to the Theology of Religions: Presentation, Assessment, and Critical Appropriation
Date of Award
Doctor of Theology (ThD)
Won Yong Ji
This study focuses on the third type—the postliberal approaches to the theology of religions. In undertaking this, I have two basic purposes. One is to examine these postliberal approaches. This examination will include a description and analysis of selected postliberal proposals concerning issues and concerns in the theology of religions. The second is to assess these proposals on key issues and appropriate certain insights from the postliberal approach for the purpose of developing a Lutheran theology of religions.
While few proposals in the theology of religions have been characterized as “postliberal," there are considerable differences among them. Therefore I shall look at specific proposals, rather than try, for instance, to ascertain first what features should be considered common to the postliberal approach, and then to see how different proposals have incorporated them. Here I shall look at four of the most fully worked out proposals, those offered in the writings of Karl Barth, George A. Lindbeck, Paul J. Griffiths, and J.A. DilsToia.
There are several related reasons for undertaking this study. The most straightforward reason is that the postliberal approach has been recognized as an important trend in the theology of religions. It has given some far-reaching criticisms of the focus on salvation in the prevailing paradigm of exclusivism, inclusivism, and pluralism. It also provides different grounds for thinking about the relationship between religions. Another reason is the broader importance of postliberal thinking in Christian theology. While recent in development, post liberalism has already been the subject of much discussion as a way of conceiving the theological task and for its approach in areas like Biblical interpretation. Given this significance, its contributions in the area of the theology of religions, itself a much discussed issue in theology, warrant attention. A third reason is the congruence of the postliberal approach with traditional theological concerns and ways of thinking. To be sure, this congruence is partial. But in its criticisms of the liberal conception of the theological task, in its attention to features such as the religious doctrines and biblical narratives, and in its concern for the uniqueness of the Christian faith and Christian community, postliberal theology would seem to hold much potential as a source for insights. Already the postliberal approach has already attracted the serious attention of traditionally-minded Christian theologians.' For this reason alone it merits a close examination and response. Beyond this, however, I am convinced that confessional traditions may find useful such aspects as its critique of theological liberalism and its insights into the task of theology and the nature of doctrine.
Okamoto, Joel, "Postliberal Approaches to the Theology of Religions: Presentation, Assessment, and Critical Appropriation" (1997). Doctor of Theology Dissertation. 22.
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