Neo-orthodoxy emerged as a theological force in Europe in the 1930s, and in America in the 1940s and 1950s. It never really took root in America and was already in decline in the later 1950s. The American version of neo-orthodoxy actually incorporated many liberal motifs, and in its purer version it found only a few supporters, e.g., William Hordern, Arthur Cochrane, Kenneth Hamilton, Philip Watson, Paul Lehmann, and Joseph Haroutunian. Of these several are Canadian and one is English.

By neo-orthodoxy I mean that great theological movement in Europe, beginning after the First World War, which emphasized the biblical revelation and the uniqueness of the mediation of Jesus Christ. In its earlier phase it was known as the dialectical theology and the theology of crisis. At one time Rudolf Bultmann and Paul Tillich were loosely associated with it, though they properly belong in the category of neo-liberalism. Its most noted exponents in Europe were Karl Barth and Emil Brunner. Others who moved in its sphere of influence were Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Hendrik Kraemer, Edward Thurneysen, Helmut Gollwitzer, J. K. S. Reid, Daniel Jenkins, and Thomas Torrance. Anders Nygren and Gustaf Wingren might also be mentioned, though they belong more to the neo-Lutheran camp. In America the Niebuhr brothers were identified with the new mood. Reinhold Niebuhr himself should perhaps be seen as a chastened liberal who had one foot in orthodoxy, particularly in his doctrine of man.

Neo-orthodoxy reaffirmed the faith of the Protestant Reformation and took issue with both Protestant scholasticism and neo-Protestant liberalism. It criticized the naïve optimism associated with the belief in progress and the perfectibility of man. It called the Church back ...

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