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Has Europe’s “springtime in theology”—as contemporary dogmaticians sometimes fondly describe the Barth-Brunner era—now lapsed into “theological wintertime”?
A probing of the theological situation on the European mainland will soon reveal that a major shift in theological perspectives once again engulfs the doctrinal outlook of the Continent. It is increasingly evident that, despite their high intention, the “crisis theologians” have failed to rally twentieth century Protestant dogmatics firmly to the central message of apostolic Christianity, the biblical kerygma.
The current theological reaction is already in process. Will it dissolve completely neo-orthodoxy’s hard-won theological gains over speculative liberalism in the first decades of this century? Will a renaissance of liberal dogmatics, shaped mainly by the influence of Rudolf Bultmann, soon sweep European theology into a “Christian end-time”? Is Continental Protestanism to confront the hard-fisted naturalism of Communist ideology with merely a romanticized naturalism overgilded with a pretense of Christian faith?
Or can we yet hope for a sound evangelical revival, once again to plunge the roots of biblical theology, ethics, and evangelism deeply into the life and culture of lands wherein the light of the Protestant Reformation is now dimmed? Does the Continental turmoil in theological discussion supply a fresh opportunity for a strategic soundly biblical theological thrust? Or will Protestant orthodoxy—now seldom championed at the theological level and sparsely defended by influential clergymen—let the present season of realignment stiffen into a new era of liberal rationalism, and fail to plant and reap a contemporary harvest for biblical theology ...1
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