For the last few weeks I've been doing a lot of reading on contemporary theology in my latest class at Reformed Theological Seminary called "The Church and the World".
The reading is at times tedious as I read about the devolution (or evolution, depending on one's perspective) from traditional Christian beliefs found in the traditional teachings of the church to the more contemporary writings of Kant, Schleiermacher, Barth and others.
I find that I don't have a lot of patience for those modern Christian theologians who reject what have historically been the essentials of the Christian faith: the deity of Christ, human sinfulness and the inspiration of Scripture among other things.
I have a hard time understanding why they would even want to describe themselves as a "Christian theologian" if all (or most) of the historic tenets of Christianity are rejected. Just call yourself a "deist" or "pantheist".
As these contemporary theologians have rejected the historical tenets of the Christian faith, they have tried to redefine and reduce Christianity by focusing on one of two things: "feelings" (termed by some as a 'God-consciousness') or ethical behavior (to help others live a righteous life or liberate oneself or our society).
This is unfortunate, because the basic assumption of Christian teaching (taught from the beginning of the Church) is that something really happened in history. Christians have believed for centuries that God revealed Himself in human history in events such as the creation of the world and the Exodus from Egypt and in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Christians have taught throughout the centuries that we can know about God and his work in history because He has revealed Himself in Scripture.
Christians throughout the centuries have believed that individuals have sinned, are under God's wrath and need to be redeemed. They have taught that God in His great mercy, sent His son Jesus to earth. And in His death on the cross, it has been taught, Jesus satisfied God's demand for justice and paid the punishment for the sins of those who believe in Him. Christians throughout the centuries have taught that one can receive that forgiveness by repentance and trust in Christ.
Many contemporary theologians have rejected all or most of these points.
Richard Niebuhr summed up the new brand of "Christianity" that rejects the historic view of Christian faith by explaining that they proclaim:
"A God without without wrath (who) brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of Christ without a cross."
That pretty much sums up what I've been reading lately,