Contemporary Christian Thought
Azusa Pacific University
Dr. Craig Keen
January 13, 2004
"Background to Theology of the Last 100 Years"

"The Passion of the thinker is to think what cannot be thought" - Soren Kierkegaard
I.   Kierkegaard
A.   Keen's Opinion - Kierkegaard has had more impact on theology in the last 100 years than anyone else
B.   It is hard to categorize who he is
1.   Philosophy
2.   Theology
3.   Psychology
4.   Literature
C.   He is difficult, mainly because he thinks backwards
D.   He was convinced that the modern church had lost its way and was no where near the New Testament church
1.   It was his calling in life to make clear what it means to become a Christian
2.   His home (Copenhagen) was much like APU, people think they are Christians simply because they are here
E.   Philosophical Fragments
1.   Written as a critique of Hegel
2.   However, he love Socrates
3.   At certain points Socrates agrees with Hegel, so he is forced to critique both
4.   Written in a series of thought, as apposed to a logical fragments
F.   Passion - Truth and subjectivity is concerned about a passionate life
G.   Existence - Lots of things are alive, but it is quite harder to exist
1.   lit. means "to stand out"
a.   Ex - to
b.   Sistere - stand out
2.   The only way to stand out (exist) is to live passionately and by faith
H.   The acceptance of his message
1.   People were glad once he died, his brother apologized for his life
2.   After World War I, people started to realize the value in what he was saying
II.   Theology
A.   Theology is to think God the Father who is unspeakable transcendent, holy
1.   Father, who are in heaven
a.   Heaven is similar to the world sky
b.   Sky was inaccessible to the them at the time
c.   It becomes a metaphor of that which is inaccessible
2.   Hallowed be your name - may your name be holy
a.   May my words become (when "naming God") something in which they cannot become
B.   Theology is to think God the Son who is unspeakably debased, humiliated
C.   Theology is to think God the Holy Spirit who is the interplay that combines the two
III.   Wesleyan Quadrilateral Development
A.   Tradition - 1st - 15th century
1.   Anything past on to them, that had its origin in some sense in "that guy" (Jesus) became tradition
2.   Quite an ambiguous term and concept
3.   People were not worried about "canonizing" the tradition until people were using traditions against itself
4.   Power groups eventually sprang up and began to define the tradition
a.   It became a tool of enforcement, of crowd control
b.   It became a method of drawing boundary lines between who is in and out
5.   In addition to that, tradition swelled larger and larger as years went on
B.   Scripture - 16th century (Europe)
1.   More and more people began to have trouble with what they were told tradition was, and were not sure these ideas were to be affirmed
2.   People began to notice that what was said in the Holy Scripture (which was accepted by the tradition) was actually contradicting tradition
a.   Scripture began to compete with tradition - although not everywhere
b.   Movements began to emerge to protest this and asserted you can't trust tradition, but only the Bible - sola scriptura
c.   It is key to understand that there was tradition long before there was scripture
i.   The new testament itself took a while to come together as "scripture" and before that all it was, was tradition
ii.   Athanasius (367) wrote the first letter in which pronounced the acceptance of the canonical books
a.   This did not just come out of the blue, but rather what was "generally" accepted in the churches of the day
b.   Athanasius also accepted the Apocrypha
C.   Reason - 18th Century (Europe)
1.   Their began to emerge the sense (and knowledge) of autonomy of the human mind and the human-self
2.   Spiritual make up of the time
a.   Most people at this time, and the past, believed in God
b.   It was during this time, however, that many atheists stepped out of the closest, and atheism became a public movement
c.   Many people felt we could pursue God through knowledge and logic, these were called Deists
3.   If we can learn to exercise our minds, we can learn to control the world
4.   Francis Bacon, "Knowledge is power"
5.   Pointing to contradictions
a.   Protestants loved to point out the contradictions between tradition and the Bible
b.   Autonomous supporters loved to point out the contradictions within scripture
6.   Autonomous supporters loved to show how Biblical stories correlated to other Ancient societies
a.   So the question is raised: why should we trust the Bible as accurate, but yet, discount the other societies legends
b.   Because of the effectiveness of the arguments of the advocates of autonomy, by 1799, a progressive intellectual who wanted to say something profound about God had a very hard time appealing to tradition and scripture - especially if their audience were also progressive intellectuals
7.   If you want to say something about God, stand on your argument itself, don't refer to tradition or a "book" (Bible)
a.   Because of the value the Bible had in the past, they would say, "lets give it around of applause," but yet advocate that it is time to move on and look towards nature
b.   Natural Theology emerged - Nature points to the elements of God
i.   Lets admit that what is created was created from a Being &
a.    &that is orderly and loves order
b.    &that is good
D.   Experience - 18th Century
1.   The Critique of Pure Reason (1781)
a.   Author: Immanuel Kant
b.   Main point: knowledge never reaches beyond experience
i.   Experience = seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching
ii.   You cannot come up with knowledge of anything that is removed from experience
iii.   This isn't a problem for most things of this world, because it is easy to experience them, but it does create a huge problem when refereeing to knowledge of the Divine
c.   Kant maintained that you can no nothing about God
i.   He was not an atheist - just because you can't know God does not mean you can't believe in God
ii.   He was trying to limit knowledge to make room for faith
d.   Kant believed and act had moral worth only if it proceeds out of a will to do good
i.   Belief in God will emerge from this mindset
ii.   A serous life interested to do good will postulate three things
a.   Human autonomy
1.   Freedom to do my duty
2.   "I ought" implies "I can"
b.   There must be immortality so that the inequities of this life can be rectified
c.   If you are committed to an ethical life, you will maintain that there is a God who is lawgiver and judge
iii.   None of this will "prove" God exists, but yet rather indicates that an ethical life will if nothing else produce a belief in God
2.   On Religion Speeches to It's Culture Despisers (1799)
a.   Author: Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (Shl-eye-er-mah-ker)
i.   He was a Pastor of a Reformed Congregation in Berlin
ii.   Professor of Theology at the University of Berlin
iii.   Sometimes called the father of modern theology
iv.   He was a romantic (as in romanticism)
a.   Arose in Germany in reaction against the 18th century enlightenment
b.   Preferred simplicity; found technology to be a threat to a genuine mind
c.   Preferred youth to "wisdom of age"
b.   Main point: The human being has three basic facilities
i.   Reason
a.   The ability to know things
b.   Gives rise to metaphysics
ii.   Will
a.   The ability to do things
b.   Gives rise to ethics
iii.   Feeling
a.   The ability to experience things
b.   Gives rise to religion
c.   Conclusion
i.   In order to be a well-rounded human being there is a necessity to be religious
ii.   What is most primal about us is the feeling of absolute dependence
IV.   19th century
A.   Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (d. 1831)
1.   He was kind of the 19th century "all-star" philosopher - he was suppose to be the philosopher that put an end to all future philosophers
2.   Wraps the whole history of the universe is wrapped up in God - He is the creator, sustainer, and judge
3.   Belief
a.   God is eternal, timelessness
i.   Thinking of God as eternal, self-sufficient, and alone is quite an empty concept
ii.   In order for God to become full and rich He has to deal with something other than God - you become more real with the more struggles you go through
iii.   Therefore God creates the an "other" (universe) to create conflict
b.   The universe is made out of God because it didn't make sense to Hegel to create a universe out of nothing
i.   This would then force God to become God's own "other"
ii.   God alone in eternity is intrinsic, but that which is simply intrinsic is empty, and abstract
iii.   Three states
a.   Being
b.   Becoming - going from nothing to being
c.   Nothing
c.   The reality
i.   God - the kingdom of the Father
ii.   Nature - the kingdom of the Son
iii.   Movement from Nature to God - the kingdom of the Holy Spirit
d.   The truth of philosophy is religion -> the highest religion is Christianity -> therefore Christianity needs to bring the truth to philosophy