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The Nature of Doctrine: Religion & Theology in a Postliberal Age

Westminster John Knox Press / 1984 / Paperback

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Lindbeck addresses the problem of the interrelationship of doctrinal permanence and change, conflict and compatibility, unity and disunity, variety and uniformity among, but especially within, religions. He considers theories of religion both within and ecumenical framework and in the wider intellectual and psychosocial context. After demonstrating the appropriateness of the cultural-linguistic approach, he applies it to such interreligious problems as unsurpassibility, dialogue, salvation and other faiths, and truth. The result of this investigation is an original and provocative contribution to systematic theology that will challenge scholars and students alike.

George A. Lindbeck is Pitkin Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology in the department of Religious Studies and the Divinity School, Yale University.

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Format: Paperback
Vendor: Westminster John Knox Press
Publication Date: 1984
ISBN: 0664246184
ISBN-13: 9780664246181
Availability: In Stock

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  1. 3 Stars Out Of 5
    August 2, 2008
    Steve Duby
    Wishing to develop an understanding of doctrine that will aid ecumenical discussion, Lindbeck sketches in this book his well-known regulative or rule theory of doctrine. In his view, doctrines are essentially communally authoritative rules that govern the church's discourse, attitudes, and actions. Thus he maintains, contra what he calls cognitive-propositionalist and experiential-expressivist views, that doctrine is more like grammar which structures and shapes the community and less like truth claims or expressions of universal religious experience or feelings. The strengths of this book are at least three. First, Lindbeck rightly criticizes the experiential-expressivist view of doctrine for overlooking genuine differences among religious traditions. Second, his view of doctrine guards against external systems imposing on Christian thought alien categories and interpretive frameworks. Third, he pushes us to explore the intrasystematic dimensions of doctrine and its influence upon the church. Having said that, the book's weaknesses are significant. First, Lindbeck's epistemological underpinnings seem deficient in some places and simply convoluted in others. Second, the rule theory is reductionistic, unable to account for the multi-faceted nature of doctrine and its development in history. In particular, we must uphold truth claim one aspect of the essence of doctrine. Finally, it seems that grammar more readily falls under the category of formal, doctrine under the category of material as it constitutes the material content of Christian belief. Perhaps other doxastic tools, like human reason, are more fit to be likened to grammar. This is an important read, but it is equally important to read evaluations of it, not least those found in Alister McGrath's The Genesis of Doctrine and Kevin Vanhoozer's The Drama of Doctrine.
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