A Purified Liberal Theology

John Allan Knight

in Liberalism versus Postliberalism

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199969388
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199301546 | DOI:

Series: American Academy of Religion Series

A Purified Liberal Theology

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This chapter describes the liberal theological method of Schubert Ogden. It begins by describing the most important contributors to Ogden’s thought: Rudolf Bultmann’s existential hermeneutics, Alfred North Whitehead’s analysis of human subjectivity, and Charles Hartshorne’s concept of God. The chapter then describes Ogden’s method of interpreting and validating theological claims, displayed in his dual criteria of adequacy. Theological claims must be appropriate to Jesus Christ (an existential criterion) and credible to common human experience and reason. Ogden derives his articulation of common human experience through a transcendental analysis of the conditions of the possibility of any and all acts of human subjectivity. Further, Ogden’s transcendental argument for God’s existence yields an understanding of God whose existence is necessary. The descriptive sense Ogden associates with “God” thus picks out God alone as its referent. Additionally, the descriptive senses associated with the predicates of theological claims are also derived from elements of human experience. We can therefore have knowledge, either through acquaintance or through description, of whether the conditions described in those descriptive senses are satisfied. Therefore, This allows him to meet the demands of Russell as well as Flew and other falsification theorists.

Keywords: Bultmann, Rudolf; demythologization; existentialism; Hartshorne, Charles; liberal theology; Ogden, Schubert; process theology; reference; reformed subjectivist principle; Whitehead, Alfred North

Chapter.  21084 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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