19th- and 20th-century Christian Theology in a Nutshell

by Jeanyne Slettum

19th century

Kant: religion within the limits of reason alone; religion converted to ethics

Schleiermacher: God as the feeling of absolute dependence; religion as feeling

Hegel: everything converted to philosophy; Absolute Spirit; system

Feuerbach: God is a human projection; religion must be overcome

Kierkegaard: truth is subjectivity; leap of faith; religiousness A & B

Ritschl: neo-Kantian, kingdom of God  

Harnack: separate kernel from husk to find essence (truth of gospel embedded in Bible, doctrine)

James: healthy-minded and sick soul typology; the unconscious as the likely portal for the divine

Rauschenbusch: social gospel

Marx, Freud, Nietzsche: “masters of suspicion”; i.e., interpreters who strip religion of its disguises (religion as opiate of the masses, religion as illusion, death of God)

20th century (to about the 70s)


Troeltsch: Christianity as history and culture; religious typology

Otto: holy as numinous (nonrational, nonsensory, external to self)

Barth: Christocentrism; knowledge of God limited to the self-revelation of God in Christ

Bultmann: kerygma over historical Jesus; dymythologization (don’t remove the myth, interpret it); God’s transcendence as nonspatial, nontemporal, but existential, confronting us in the moment of decision

Bonhoeffer: cheap grace, Confessing Church, political theology

Tillich: faith as ultimate concern; God as the ground of being, method of correlation

Reinhold Niebuhr: “religious socialism”→Christian realism; hermeneutic: myth

H. Richard Niebuhr: ethicist; Christ and culture typology; radical monotheism

Hartshorne: process theology; omnipotence as a theological mistake

Cobb: process metaphysics, Christ as creative transformation

Moltmann: theology of hope, political theology, panentheist, Trinitarian

Pannenberg: historicity of revelation, systematic theology


Religion as anthropology: Frazier

Religion as psychology: Freud (religion is an illusion), James, Jung (collective unconscious)

Religion as sociology: Durkheim, Weber (“Protestant ethic”)

Religion as religious studies: Smart, Smith

Pragmatism: James, Peirce

Neo-orthodoxy: Barth, Bonhoeffer, Brunner, Niebuhr (2), Bultmann

Phenomenology: Husserl, Otto

Process: Whitehead, Hartshorne, Cobb, Suchocki

Existentialism: Tillich, Bultmann

Liberation: Boff (2), Sobrino, Guttierez, Söelle

Feminist: Daly, Ruether, Schüssler-Fiorenza

Womanist: Williams

Black Liberation: Cone

Catholic: Balthazar, Teilhard, Rahner (“anonymous Christian”), Tracy

Jewish: Buber (I-Thou), Heschel, Wiesel

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