Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BSac 120:477 (Jan 63) p. 65
Carr, Clay B., Jr., “Orthodoxy As Open-Ended,” Theology Today, October, 1962.
This is an age in which traditional theological terms, once discarded by so-called modern thinkers, are being revived and invested with new meanings. The author aptly describes today’s theological scene in these words. “Non-fundamentalist Protestantism has been characterized during the last two generations by wide-ranging theological experimentation. One result of this has been that the concept of ‘orthodoxy’ has largely fallen into disrepute. As a seminary professor of mine once remarked, orthodoxy today seems to consist basically of a gentlemen’s agreement not to deny Christ’s divinity.” Mr. Carr, however, posits the need for post-liberal theology to have an orthodoxy of its own because of continuing pressures which will “force it gradually to develop and defend a more consistent position. Chief among these pressures are the rapid growth of the Protestant and pseudo-Protestant right, with its claim to possess the Christian truth; the maze of concepts brought into the Christian tradition from contemporary philosophy, psychology, and other disciplines, which now need to be sifted and evaluated; and the progressive widening rift between traditional Christian morality and contemporary ethical standards.” To enter into dialogue with contemporary culture, the church will need an identity. “Since orthodoxy is the conceptual side of identity, this will mean a growing attempt to lay down ground rules for theological endeavor in terms of an orthodoxy.” He is quick to warn against a “return to the doctrinal safeties of the past.” “There is clear danger in the situation that ‘orthodoxy’ will be equated with ‘going back,’ whether to the Reformation, the historic creeds, the Apostolic Church, or wherever…” which is “unacceptable to many of us—and probably impossible.” He suggests an alternative definition of orthodoxy as “primarily the realm of discourse in which the on-going tradition of the Church finds expression. It is consistent from age to age, but incomplete and changing.” Under Mr. Carr’s definition, orthodoxy shifts with the trends of contemporary culture, has no definiteness, and has lost completely its “once for all character.” To say that orthodoxy can be known in its formal completeness “is to place the Church in the position of saying to its contemporary hearers
BSac 120:477 (Jan 63) p. 66
outside the faith not only ‘step into my realm of discourse’ (which, at some point in the dialogue, it must do), but ‘step back to the only valid truth.’ This is to say, as do a number of conservative Churches and theologians, that modern man must deny his existence and become what h...
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