TOWARD A CHRISTIAN HUMANISM – A THEOLOGICAL PROJECT
For Christianity to regain vibrancy in the contemporary age, I am convinced that a revisioning of aspects of Christian theology and praxis is necessary:
1. Produce an evidence-based theological approach that balances mythopoetic, metaphorical thinking, understanding of allegory, symbol, and ritual with solid scholarship of all kinds. This is a broad call for the Christian religious imagination to be transformed by a courageous encounter with reason and learning.
2. A renewed understanding of the nature of divinity which aligns with the best of human understanding and science, as well as the best of human religious imagination, myth, and poetry.
3. A vigorous proclamation and defense of human dignity that opposes the dehumanizing forces of empire, secularism, and nihilism.
4. Continued refinement of our understanding of Jesus of Nazareth, applying insights from Historical Jesus scholarship, hermeneutics, and cutting edge textual scholarship.
5. Moving beyond problematic notions of original sin and substitutionary atonement that reduce Jesus to a human sacrifice.
6. Making Jesus’ rejection of moralism, legalism, and literalism – all of which tempt us to build walls, control others, and establish abusive power structures – central to our understanding of Christian practice and communal organization.
7. A deemphasis on institutional structures, denominational identity, clericalism, and American-style, 20th Century “church”, instead favoring organic community, sacramental living, and local transformation.
PART I – CONTEXT & METHOD
What is the broad historical and cultural context of the current crisis and what sort of theological and methodological response is appropriate? In these essays I argue that Western culture is entering a post-secular, post-Christian period. Various intellectual trends formed during the Enlightenment have secularized the culture, particularly naturalism. Most of Christian theology has not risen to the occasion, choosing to cling to outdated theologies, methods, and thinking, rather than properly respond to the challenge by updating its intellectual foundations to align with postmodern reality.
PART II – THE APPLICATION
This second set of theological essays are broad applications of this manner and style of theology. They discuss a renewed understanding of the nature of divinity which aligns with human experience and science, as well as the best of human religious imagination inspired by vigorous mythopoesis. It also applies insights from Historical Jesus scholarship, hermeneutics, and cutting edge textual scholarship.
The result is something of a Christian Humanism, one that deemphasizes abstract metaphysics, ungrounded supernatural claims, and magical thinking, while offering a vigorous proclamation and defense of human dignity that opposes the dehumanizing forces of empire, secularism, and nihilism. This Christian Humanism retains what’s central and vital to the Christian tradition, operating in what Brian Mclaren has described as a broad and generous orthodoxy.
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