To describe in meteorological terms the climate of so vast and varied a land as Canada is, even for the weather expert, a matter of some complexity. But the task of describing the theological climate is vastly more complex. The variables are infinitely more subtle, and often the tools for research do not exist. Such a description, therefore, can only be partial and will be influenced by the writer’s own vantage point within the church.
At the time of this writing, many parts of Canada are experiencing record cold spells for the winter. Theologically speaking, however, the freezing gusts of winter are giving way to summer heat. Publication in early February of E. Harrison’s controversial book The Church Without God has again brought to the fore the unresolved issues arising out of the Honest to God debate. Once again the Canadian church is being rocked by the more radical aspects of the so-called new theology. And the handmaid of this theology, the new morality, is prominent also. Latent in the debate is a theological cynicism, or indeed nihilism, that threatens the very foundations of belief. And the danger is increased a hundredfold, compared to previous times of unrest and doubt, by the fact that it comes not from outside but from inside the ranks of the clergy—from within the Church itself.
The new-theology movement holds under its umbrella widely differing points of view and is difficult to define. Like the Gnosticism of the early Christian era, it is an amalgam of religious thinking, a polarity of trends rather than any firmly fixed point of view. As in Gnosticism, however, certain common features emerge. One significant aspect is the eclectic nature of its approach both to the works of such modern theologians as Bultmann, ...1
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