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Karl Barth
liberation theology
Death of God Theology


Neo-Orthodoxy is a modern school of Protestant theology which is largely derived from the work of Richard Niebuhr and Karl Barth - especially the latter's arguments that knowledge of god can only be obtained through revelation, not natural reason.

It has also been called other names, due to the various issues adherents can focus on. Some, for example, focus on the saving grace and activity of Jesus Christ - because this is known as kerygma, neo-orthodoxy is sometimes called kerygmatic theology.

Karl Barth worked on revising his theological position because of the uncritical acceptance of World War I which he saw in so many churches and religious leaders. For Barth, this great evil in the world refuted the traditional belief in human progress which was common among liberal theologians. Barth returned to studying the scriptures rather than nature, and as a result came to focus on sin and evil.

According to Barth, sin is not simply an error or a matter of ignorance, but is instead something unholy which is ingrained in human nature. Neither eduction nor reflection nor human social institutions can overcome sin. The only thing which can overcome sin is the saving grace of God, communicated and established through the sacrifice of Jesus as described in the Gospels. God judges, and humans must hold themselves accountable to God and God's will.

Neo-othrodoxy is an explicit rejection of the modernist notion that Christianity must be accomodated to the scientific and social developments in modern society. Instead, neo-orthodoxy argues that human nature is fixed, and fixed in sin - thus, humans and human society must accommodate themselves to the only thing which can help them, which is Christianity.

Neo-orthodoxy is not, however, the same a fundamentalism. Although both movements share somewhat similar views of human nature, they do not share the same theological or political agendas. For example, neo-orthodoxy's position on the extreme transcendence of God helped lead to the development of the "Death of God" theology, a position very different from the common fundamentalist personalization of Jesus. Also, neo-orthodoxy's critique of social institutions also helped in the development of liberation theology, a radical departure from the fundamentalist emphasis on capitalism.

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Related Resources:

What is Christianity?
What are the various Christian groups, denominations, sects and heresies? What are some key concepts in Christian theology? What are some of the most important events in Christian history? All of this and more are covered in the Christianity FAQ.

What is the Philosophy of Religion?
Sometimes confused with theology, the Philosophy of Religion is the philosophical study of religious beliefs, religious doctrines, religious arguments and religious history. The line between theology and the philosophy of religion isn't always sharp, but the primary difference is that theology tends to be apologetical in nature, committed to the defense of particular religious positions, whereas Philosophy of Religion is committed to the investigation of religion itself, rather than the truth of any particular religion.

What is Theism?
What is the difference between monotheism and monolatry? Between pantheism and panentheism? How about between animism and shamanism? Or theism and deism? What the heck is henotheism?

What is Religion?
A system of human beliefs, ideals and practices which is harder to define than it may at first appear. Read more about how dictionaries, scholars and others have tried to define and explain religion.

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