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Arianism Arianism

A Christian heresy that declared that Christ is not truly divine but a created being.
According to the Alexandrian presbyter Arius (4th century), God alone is immutable and self-existent,
and the Son is not God but a creature with a beginning.
The Council of Nicaea (AD 325) condemned Arius and declared the Son to be
"of one substance with the father."
Arianism had numerous defenders for the next 50 years
but eventually collapsed when the Christian emperors of Rome Gratian and Theodosius assumed power.
The First Council of Constantinople (381) approved the Nicene Creed and proscribed Arianism.
The heresy continued among the Germanic tribes through the 7th century.
Similar beliefs are held in the present day by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Unitarians.

As is always the case, the story is written by the victors!
Arianiasm was a widespread doctrine in its day
and continues as a more practical theology.

Van B
Dispensationalism Dispensationalism

The idea of different "dispensations" may be found in the writings of some of the early church fathers,
which view the flow of biblical history as a series of "dispensations"

Dispensationalism maintains:
a fundamental distinction between Israel and the church,
There are two peoples of God with two different destinies, earthly Israel and the spiritual church,
A fundamental distinction between the Law and Grace. They are mutually exclusive ideas.
The view that the New Testament church is an addition to God's plan which was not foreseen by the Old Testament.
A distinction between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ;
The Rapture precedes the "official" second coming (to the earth) by 7 years of tribulation.
These tenets are supposedly derived from the dispensationalists' insistence on "consistent literalism"
especially in the literal interpretation of OT prophecies regarding Israel.
Crucial to the dispensationalist reading of biblical prophecy, drawn principally from Daniel and Revelation,
but also, to some degree, from Ezekiel, is the assertion that the Jewish Temple will be rebuilt on the Temple Mount
as a precursor to the Lord returning to restore the earthly Kingdom of Israel centered on Jerusalem.
The dispensational movement was therefore fueled by the re-establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.
It has grown in popularity particularly since 1967, coinciding with the Arab-Israeli Six Day War,
and a few years later in 1970 with the publication of Hal Lindsey's book The Late Great Planet Earth.
Dispensationalists are often associated with the circulation of end times prophecy,
which professes to read omens of the Second Coming in current events.

Lutherans Lutherans

The Lutheran faith believes that God is three in one, or triune.
We believe that the Son of God became a human being to suffer and die for the sins of the world
so that all who believe in Him will not perish but, through His substitution for us on the cross,
we are given forgiveness and eternal life.
Lutherans believe that salvation was made possible only by the work of Jesus Christ.
Lutherans believe that we are saved by God's mercy and forgiveness and not by works of righteousness
to atone for our past or even by a personal action of deciding to follow Jesus.
Lutherans do believe that trust in Jesus is necessary for salvation.
However, we understand that such trust is the work of God the Holy Spirit
working through the Scriptures and the Sacraments to create such faith.
Lutherans take their beliefs from the Holy Scriptures.
Lutherans continue to believe the Bible to be the inspired and inerrant Word of God
and the only revelation on both beliefs and practice. 

Calvinism Calvinism

Calvin agreed with Martin Luther on justification by faith and the sole authority of Scripture.
On the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, he believed that the body of Christ was not present everywhere
but that his spirit was universal and that there was a genuine communion with the risen Lord.
Calvin rejected the images of saints and the crucifix, but allowed a plain cross.
He was largely opposed to art and music in services of religion but not in the secular sphere.
Calvin believed that the frightfulness of God's judgements would not descend upon the elect.
While Luther saw no way of knowing who were the elect, Calvin had three tests:
the profession of faith;
a rigorously disciplined Christian deportment;
and a love of the Lord's Supper.

Evangelicals Evangelicals

Evangelicalism is a term used to describe a movement within Protestantism
that is characterized by an emphasis on having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
This relationship begins when a person receives Christ’s forgiveness and is spiritually reborn.
Those who ascribe to this belief are called Evangelicals.

Evangelicalism was based upon the good news that "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve" (1 Corinthians 15:3b-5).
This good news, which is the Gospel of Christ, and the preaching of it
is what Evangelicalism was based upon.

The roots of Evangelicalism go back to the Protestant Reformation,
during which time the Bible was brought to the masses.
Formerly neglected “biblical truths” were rediscovered and taught.
It wasn’t until the great revivals of the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe and America,
that Evangelicalism truly began as a movement.
As happened during the Reformation, the Evangelical movement
and its focus on having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ
brought a renewed vigor in accurately interpreting and applying the Bible, as God’s Word.

Traditionally, Evangelicalism has been theologically conservative.
Currently some simply equate Evangelicalism with Protestantism itself.

SEE ALSO Evangelical Theological Potholes

The Oxford Movement
Oxford Movement Oxford Movement

Oxford movement was a 19th-century movement centred at the University of Oxford.
It sought a renewal of Roman Catholic thought and practice, in opposition to the Protestant tendencies of the church.
The argument was that the Anglican church was historically a truly "catholic" church.
An immediate cause of the movement was the change that took place in the relationship between the state and the CofE from 1828 to 1832.
Laws were repealed that required members of government-office holders to receive the Lord's Supper in the CofE
and a law was passed that removed most of the restrictions formerly imposed on Roman Catholics.

For a short time it seemed possible that the CofE might be disestablished and lose its endowments.
Consequently, many loyal Anglicans wished to assert that the Church of England was not dependent on the state
and that it gained its authority from the fact that it taught Christian truth and that its bishops were in the apostolic succession.

The movement rapidly became involved in theological, pastoral, and devotional problems.
The Enlightenment
The Enlightenment The Enlightenment

Several ideas dominated Enlightenment thought,
including rationalism, empiricism, progressivism, and cosmopolitanism.
Rationalism is the idea that humans are capable of using their faculty of reason to gain knowledge.
This was a sharp turn away from the prevailing idea that people needed to rely on scripture or church authorities for knowledge.
Empiricism promotes the idea that knowledge comes from experience and observation of the world.
Progressivism is the belief that through their powers of reason and observation,
humans can make unlimited, linear progress over time;
this belief was especially important as a response to
the carnage and upheaval of the English Civil Wars in the 17th century.
Finally, cosmopolitanism reflected Enlightenment thinkers view of themselves
as actively engaged citizens of the world as opposed to provincial and close-minded individuals.
In all, Enlightenment thinkers endeavored to be ruled by reason, not prejudice.
Deism was an Enlightenment-era belief in a God who created
but has no continuing involvement in the world and the events within it.
Deists also advanced the belief that personal morality—an individual’s moral compass,
leading to good works and actions—is more important than strict church doctrines.
Liberalism Liberalism

Liberal Protestantism developed in the 19th century out of a need
to adapt Christianity to a modern intellectual context.
With the acceptance of Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection, some traditional Christian beliefs,
such as parts of the Genesis creation narrative, became difficult to defend.
Unable to ground faith exclusively in an appeal to scripture or the person of Jesus Christ,
liberals "sought to anchor that faith in common human experience,
and interpret it in ways that made sense within the modern worldview."

Beginning in Germany, liberal theology was influenced by the Enlightenment's high view of human reason
and Pietism's emphasis on religious experience and interdenominational tolerance.

The sources of religious authority recognized by liberal Protestants differed from conservative Protestants.
Traditional Protestants understood the Bible to be uniquely authoritative (sola scriptura).
Liberal Christians rejected the doctrine of biblical infallibility as the idolatry (fetishism) of the Bible.
Instead, liberals sought to understand the Bible through modern biblical criticism and analysis.
They asked if biblical accounts were based on older texts and whether the Gospels recorded the actual words of Jesus.
The use of these methods of biblical interpretation led liberals to conclude that
"none of the New Testament writings can be said to be apostolic in the sense in which it has been traditionally held to be so".
This conclusion made sola scriptura an untenable position.

In its place, liberals identified the historical Jesus as the "real canon of the Christian church".
Theologian Hermann Gunkel affirmed that
"the spirit of historical investigation has now taken the place of a traditional doctrine of inspiration".
Episcopal bishop Shelby Spong declared that the literal interpretation of the Bible is heretical.

In general, liberal Christians are not concerned with the presence of biblical errors or contradictions.
Liberals abandoned or reinterpreted traditional doctrines in light of recent knowledge.
For example, the traditional doctrine of original sin was rejected for being derived from Augustine of Hippo,
whose views on the New Testament were believed to have been distorted by his involvement with Manichaeism.

Liberal Christians sought to elevate Jesus' humane teachings as a standard for a world civilization
freed from cultic traditions and traces of traditionally pagan types of belief in the supernatural.
As a result, liberal Christians placed less emphasis on miraculous events associated with the life of Jesus than on his teachings.
The debate over whether a belief in miracles was mere superstition or essential to accepting the divinity of Christ
constituted a crisis within the 19th-century church, for which theological compromises were sought.
Many liberals prefer to read Jesus' miracles as metaphorical narratives for understanding the power of God.
Not all theologians with liberal inclinations reject the possibility of miracles,
but many reject the polemicism that denial or affirmation entails.

Nineteenth-century liberalism had an optimism about the future
in which humanity would continue to achieve greater progress.
This optimistic view of history was sometimes interpreted as building the kingdom of God in the world.
Deism Deism

Deistical thinking has existed since ancient times,
but it did not develop as a Christian movement until after the scientific revolution,
which began in the mid-sixteenth century ; the Enlightenment.
Deists believe that any knowledge one has of God should come through your own understanding,
experiences, and reason, not the prophecies of others.
Because deists accept that God is uninterested in praise
and that he is unapproachable via prayer,
there is little need for the traditional trappings of organized religion.

Publications abound from 1690 (John Locke) onward, often producing vehement responses from the church.
Perhaps the key publication was Matthew Tindal's "Christianity as Old as Creation" in 1730,
which required that " revealed truth" be validated by human reason.

Deism entered a slow decline in the 1730s.
A number of reasons have been suggested for this decline, including:
*The increasing influence of naturalism and materialism.
*The writings of David Hume and Immanuel Kant,
which raised questions about the ability of reason to address metaphysical questions.
*The violence of the French Revolution.
*Christian revivalist movements, such as Pietism and Methodism
along with the rise of counter-Enlightenment philosophies.

Although Deism has declined in popularity over time,
scholars believe that these ideas still have a lingering influence on modern society.
Deist rejection of revealed religion evolved into, and contributed to,
19th-century liberal British theology and the rise of Unitarianism.

Unitarianism Unitarianism

There is a range of beliefs within Unitarianism, largely divided into
Arians. Those who believe that Jesus pre-existed his time on earth.
Socinians. Those who deny his pre-existence, but worship him.
Strict. Deny worship of Jesus and that he was divine.

However the following beliefs are generally accepted;
*..One God and the oneness or unity of God. Rejection of Trinitarian ideas.
*..The life and teachings of Jesus Christ constitute the model for living one's own life.
*..Reason, rational thought, science, and philosophy coexist with faith in God.
*..Humans have the ability to exercise free will.
*..Human nature in its present condition is capable of both good and evil, as God intended.
*..No religion can claim an absolute monopoly on the Holy Spirit or theological truth.
*..Though the authors of the Bible were inspired by God, they were humans and therefore subject to human error. *..The traditional doctrines of the Atonement are invalid.

The Death of God
The Death of God The Death of God

On April 8, 1966, a story appeared in Time magazine, that shocked readers by asking, "Is God Dead?"
The theory was that Christianity can and must dispense with belief in the divine and supernatural.

Reaction to the article was overwhelmingly hostile.
The theologians fared no better. Their careers never recovered.

Elson, the author, and his editors at Time, however, were prophetic.
Society today looks a lot like the society that van Buren, Altizer, and Hamilton suggested.
Their ideas about the relationship between Christianity and secularization express,
in exaggerated form to be sure, some of the most deeply felt religious intuitions of our culture.
They also anticipated a crucial but under-examined phenomenon of our time:
the institutional defeat and cultural victory of liberal Protestantism.

The phrase "God is dead" unsettles, even menaces, but much of the antipathy was a misunderstanding.
The phrase was not a call to action. It announced a historical event.
Something had happened in Western culture which had altered the conditions of human experience.
Man has learned to understand the world and to order his life apart from God.
So God is truly dead in the same way that Latin is dead.

The Death of God theology gained wide notice because it argued
that Christians should welcome this course of events rather than resist it.
They took as their main inspiration and guide the prison writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
the dissident pastor and theologian executed by the Nazi regime in April 1945.
Bonhoeffer was not an atheist, but near the end of his life he rethought the nature of Christian belief.
He wrote his close friend Eberhard Bethge in the summer of 1944:
"We are moving towards a completely religionless time,
People as they are now simply cannot be religious."

He wrote that it was wrong for Christians to lament or oppose the liberation of human beings from the tutelage of God.
Intellectual honesty compels us to acknowledge that modern people no longer need religion, and perhaps no longer need God.
"Man has learnt to deal with himself in all questions of importance without recourse to the working-hypothesis called God,
We must learn to live as if God does not exist, for God is teaching us that we must get along without him."

Bonhoeffer called this way of life "religionless Christianity," an explosive idea for his most radical interpreters.
It suggested that the theological oppositions that had fractured modern thought could be overcome.
Denying what seem like core Christian claims about God could be a way of affirming Christianity.

Paul van Buren's The Secular Meaning of the Gospel was his first widely read publication.
Van Buren argued that traditional religious language no longer makes sense in modern societies.
The term God, he wrote in 1963, is either meaningless or misleading since it cannot tell us anything about reality.
Its only function is to express our attitudes, preferences, and feelings.
The essential ethical message of Christianity can thus be expressed without reference to the divine.
One can be believing without reference to a transcendent Supreme Being and still be Christian.

Van Buren thought he had found a secular way of preserving the moral message of the New Testament,
but to Thomas Altizer, a young theologian, such an approach was theologically inadequate.
It implied that modern Christianity should come to terms with the godlessness of secularity,
showing how it can be accommodated in a secular interpretation of the Bible, rather than reject God outright.
It will not suffice to merely accept the death of God, Altizer countered. Christians must will the death of God.

There was nothing conventional about the atheism of Altizer, the most brilliant of the Death of God thinkers.
He insisted that the modern eclipse of God was not rooted in the findings of science or critical biblical scholarship.
We have left God behind because of God’s actions in Jesus Christ. God has willed his own death.

Altizer did not hide his indebtedness to Friedrich Nietzsche.
Nietzsche popularized the slogan God is dead in the third book of The Gay Science.
Nietzsche did not simply point out that atheism had triumphed over superstition
Instead, atheism is a product of Christianity, which he saw as a slave morality.
He meant that Christianity inculcates an inversion of values.
Instead of encouraging strength, it celebrates weakness.
Instead of pursuing life's expansion, it requires self-abasement and submission.
Traditionally, this is exemplified in subservience to God.

Submission to God eventually gives way to a self-denying subservience to truthfulness,
and slavery to truth requires sacrificing belief in God.
In Nietzsche's thinking, modern Protestant Christianity led the way.
It eventually made God appear an obstacle to intellectual integrity.

Altizer was taken with Nietzsche's idea that Christianity generated its own fatal undermining.
But said that it was not Christians who murdered God, but God who abolished himself.
He stipulated that God has no being apart from the historical person of Jesus.
This allowed Altizer to say that God is dead because he died on the cross.
God is incarnate in Jesus and he dies in Jesus.

Altizer argued that this does not represent a radical departure from the essential truth of Christianity,
but instead completes or fulfills a pattern of thought present in the New Testament itself.
From the perspective of classical Christian theology, these views appear nonsensical,
but his understanding of God differed in fundamental ways from that tradition.

Its roots were in the nineteenth-century philosopher G. W. F. Hegel,
who interpreted history as the progressive realization of human freedom.
Hegel's main idea was that the overcoming of contradiction is the law of life.
Human beings attain free self consciousness through conflict that always leads to a higher resolution.
In this history, he claimed, we learn to see historical conceptions of God
as symbolic representations of the human drama of cultural development.

Hegel saw himself as preserving the spirit of Christianity rather than overturning it.
He maintained that his philosophy advanced a rational articulation of the teachings of the Bible.
God entered history in order to abolish his separation from it.
Historical meaning and purpose operate within the flow of human affairs. God’s coming into the world in Christ represents, symbolically,
man's coming-to-himself as the rational author of his own destiny.

Altizer seized on Hegel's interpretation of Christian doctrine.
In Christ, we come to see the revolutionary truth about God.
God is not a timeless being that exists over against the world;
God is the forward-moving rational process within history
that moves all things to overcome alienation and achieve freedom.
For Altizer, as for Hegel, there is now no God
and the modern world is secular, because Jesus was his Son.

Altizer’s views might seem relentlessly speculative,
but to William Hamilton, a seminary professor, their importance was almost entirely practical. If the sacred has collapsed into the profane,
then Christians should be oriented toward the here and now, not the supernatural.
Hamilton turned the sources of Altizer’s thinking into instruments of social criticism,
arguing that the true mission of the Reformation was finally being understood.
The Reformation was not about the righteousness of God or the primacy of Scripture,
but the movement of Christians from the cloister into the world.
Secularism was therefore a new spiritual epoch to be welcomed.
As he explained in his 1961 book The New Essence of Christianity,
it marked the end of human adolescence and the beginning of our moral maturity.

The Death of God movement never gained much scholarly attention.
It states explicitly what many today only sense inarticulately:
that the most Christian way to live is perhaps not to be a Christian at all.

Our culture harbors a sense, not so much unconfessed as unformulated,
that the true mark of Christian faith is an inclination to doubt and even deny its own truth.
If its workings are concealed, its effects are unmistakable. You recognize it in every Christian scholar, university, church, or society
that subjects its own religious tradition to critical standards that it would never apply to others.
The same dynamic is at work when those same scholars and institutions exempt their own traditions
from the respect and support they extend to those of others.

The Death of God movement identified this impulse not as an intellectual pathology,
but as a necessary out-working of the Gospel itself.
The ability of Christianity to expose itself to critique and engage in self-refutation is,
these theologians argued, the highest and purest expression of its message of love and human freedom.
Following Jesus means subverting every claim to truth, authority, and consolation
that could interfere with a life of self-emptying agape.
Altizer insisted that Christianity must will its own death,
and Hamilton agreed that it must negate itself.

The Death of God theologians believed that Protestantism was being led to understand,
perhaps for the first time,
what Christian faith really means. Christianity is not about possessing knowledge of God or salvation in a world to come;
it is about the inauguration of a new way of life that breaks down every barrier to inclusion.
Inspired by the New Testament’s vision of human community, they argued that Christianity is a social movement,
and the job of theology is to purify the Christian tradition of its interest in heaven above.

In this we see the larger ambition of Death of God theology and its enduring relevance.
The Gospel forms a community that, following the biblical injunction to die in order to live,
extinguishes itself so as to spread its message into the secular world.
And has not exactly that come to pass?

The central fact of American religion today is that liberal Protestantism is dead and everywhere triumphant.
Its churches are empty, but its causes have won.
Mainline Protestantism has experienced both institutional defeat and cultural victory.

Emergent Theology
Emergent Theology Emergent Theology

Though a subject of great discussion in the late 1990s and early 2000s,
the emergent movement has seemingly dropped off the map as of late.
Part of this stems from the difficulty in defining just what the Emergent Movement is.
Led by authors and pastors like Brian McLaren (A New Kind of Christian, 2001) and Tony Jones (The Church is Flat, 2011),
emergent churches have sought to reshape how to “do church” in the postmodern culture,
often challenging traditional Christian understandings of faith and practice.
It seems that this has had little effective impact!

An Emergent belief is the hopeful view that
"the kingdom of God is emerging through the processes of history
because God (however seen) is the future, drawing everything into Himself".

Emergents usually reject final judgment,
preferring to think of divine salvation
as taking the form of a tangible paradise on earth.

Our mission is not first to spread the traditional self-centred Gospel message to individuals,
but, instead, to do good in society and so make life better to all,
creating coherent meaning specific to a church or other community.

Truth and meaning are experienced, rather than known.
Experiences in life are more important than doctrine.
Spiritual growth progressively rejects the Evangelical ideas of:
literal Bible inerrancy, group prayer, miraculous healing and the Lord's Supper.
The emergence of God's Kingdom is more important than any past legends or activity.