Liberal theology, in its typical form, represents the attempt to approach religion from a rational perspective without denying or belittling the importance of religious experience and religious commitment. Versions of liberal theology can be found in all the great religions. This book is primarily concerned with a Christian tradition that goes back to the second century and reached a high point in the seventeenth. This tradition includes a method of inquiry which, when re-evaluated in the light of recent discussions on the nature of rationality and applied to contemporary issues, reveals that there are versions of materialism, monism and theism that can accord with rationality. While liberal theology cannot demonstrate the truth of theism, it can present it not only as one of the rational options, but as an option that has uniquely attractive characteristics, and when the liberal tradition is taken at its best, it can support a version of Christianity which continues to refer to God as a transcendent 'reality', and which can continue to support recognizable doctrines of incarnation, redemption and Trinity. The liberal theology introduced and advanced in this book can be contrasted with many recent 'radical theologies', and could be called 'liberal orthodoxy'. Students of philosophy, theology and religious studies, as well as clergy and interested lay readers, will find this an accessible insight into liberal theology and to current debates on materialism, atheism and inter-faith dialogue.
'Space does not permit me to do justice to the great richness of detail in Langford's argument… This is a most welcome book which will serve well as a reference for any liberals and modernists out there who are feeling beleaguered in the post-modern times…(Langford) unravels for his readers a "liberal orthodoxy" which would be eminently preachable in any enquiring parish….this is a theology for the twenty-first century that could well still be being read at the turn of the next.' Reviews in Religion and Theology '[Readers] will welcome what is a balanced and persuasive engagement of a reasonable orthodoxy with different contemporary outlooks. The aim is to affirm the rational attractiveness of Christian theism… With no dependence on authorities it engages in rational discussion with a tolerance and sensitivity to differing positions that encourages further exploration of the issues. The sustained debate thus offered is remarkly accessible…. It is specifically directed to the ordinary intelligent reader, and in this it must readily be recognised to have succeeded… many who have read it once will almost certainly wish to return to parts again, and to use it as a resource book in this field. Time spent with it will be amply justified.' Prospero 'This is a most welcome book which will serve well as a reference for any liberals and modernists out there who are feeling beleaguered in those post-modern times. Its densely packed script is well worth the purchase of a new pair of reading glasses for a comprehensive glimpse into a closely argued rational religious perspective.' Modern Believing
Contents: Introduction; Where to begin?; Materialism; Religious experience and monism; The meaning of theism; The traditional arguments for the existence of God; The Trinitarian option; Some personal options; Appendix 1: Miracles revisited; Appendix 2: Three suggested creeds; Appendix 3: A Meditation; Index.