A faltering and impatient liberalism is tempted to catapult itself into violent new remedies.

Two years go a former colleague at a midwest college acquainted me with a work group of prominent American liberal theologians who had come together to do “constructive” theology. My friend invited two member acquaintances to lead a colloquy concerning the goals of the group on the campus where I was then serving. Names of some in the work group are familiar to many in the American setting: Edward Farley (Vanderbilt), Gordon Kaufman (Harvard), David Kelsey (Yale), Langdon Gilkey (Chicago), Schubert Ogden (Perkins).

This was my first introduction to the workshop goals, and I was a bit surprised at the vitality and stridency with which the agenda was presented. An informative overview of the group’s goals and membership was published by Julian Hartt in the March 1979 Occasional Papers of the Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research (Collegeville, Minn. 56321). It is fascinating reading for those who want to keep up with what American liberal theologians are about these days.

I recently learned that the group is still meeting and is planning to publish a textbook they hope will break new ground for theological study and church life in the U.S. Briefly, this is what the group has agreed on as its assumptions in hammering out a reconstructionist theology for our day. Since the workshop first assumes that the scriptural doctrine of the supernatural is wholly discredited in the modern world, a new theology for our time will have to get along without it. In fact, Hartt writes, much of the traditional package of the Christian faith has been discredited and needs to be rethought completely.

Accordingly, the group has assigned specific traditional ...

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