TOWARD A CHRISTIAN HUMANISM – A THEOLOGICAL PROJECT
For Christianity to regain vibrancy in the contemporary, post-Christian, post-secular age, I am convinced that a (re)visioning of aspects of Christian theology and praxis is necessary:
1. Present an orthodox, vibrant Christianity that offers an inviting cultural metanarrative of interwoven themes of normativity, personalist anthropology, and communal meaning. In the spirit of the Christian-Secular rapprochement (Habermas), Christianity must rely on 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 renewed by a courageous encounter with reason and learning.
2. Following the advice of von Balthasar’s theological aesthetics, this same Christianity must strive to be captivatingly beautiful in it’s theology, symbolism, ritual, and liturgy – but most of all in the lives of Christians embodying love, goodness, and hospitality. This will require beautiful, yet realistic reformulations of orthodox Christian thinking, including:
3. 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.
4. A vigorous proclamation and defense of human dignity that opposes the dehumanizing forces of empire, reductionisms, and nihilism.
5. Continued refinement of our understanding of Jesus of Nazareth, applying insights from Historical Jesus scholarship, hermeneutics, and cutting edge textual scholarship. Most especially, 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
In these essays I argue that Western culture has entered 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 Christian vision 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, along with personalist anthropology, and various forms of phenomenological and postmodern thinking.
The result is something of a Christian Humanism, one that moves beyond abstract metaphysics, poorly grounded supernatural claims, and magical thinking, while offering a vigorous, beautiful 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.
All content copyrighted with all rights reserved. Gregory Gronbacher, 2021. (C)