The Best Christology In Nineteen Centuries?
The Vindication of Liberal Theology: A Tract for the Times, by Henry P. Van Dusen (Scribner’s, 1963, 192 pp., $3.50), is reviewed by James Daane, editorial associate, CHRISTIANITY TODAY.
This book has that blunt forthrightness and simple integrity so typical of an honest Dutchman. Its author freely expresses his convictions, reveals the warm piety of his heart, and defends both with courage. The now retired president of Union Seminary of New York is by his own avowal a liberal Christian who firmly believes that liberal theology “was—and is—the least inadequate, most credible and cogent interpretation of Christian Faith in the nineteen centuries of its history.”
Religious liberalism, says Van Dusen, was a child of the nineteenth century. It was not virgin born; its male parent was the scientific, intellectual mind, and its female parent, the evangelical religious resurgence. The child was conceived to make Christianity credible to a scientific age so that an intelligent, intellectual person could be both Christian and honest. To make this possible, liberal theology sought to rid Christianity of the graveclothes of tradition and outmoded superstitions, and to purge modern thought of its gross abberations.
It was the glory of liberalism to be “Christocentric” and to concentrate on Christology, for Christ, says Van Dusen, has ever been the true center of the Christian faith and the source of its spiritual power. Moreover, it is Christ as defined by the ancient classical creeds that is offensive to modern intelligence. The Christological problem is that God should himself have lived and walked as a man on the earth. The classical Christology, with its declarations concerning divine and ...1
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