The Spirit of American Liberal Theology (Paper)

A History

  • 9780664268411
  • 6 x 9
  • 678
  • 50.00
  • Paper
  • 0664268412
  • 9/4/2023
  • 7-10 days processing
$ 90.00


The Spirit of American Liberal Theology is an interpretation of the entire U.S. American tradition of liberal theology. A highly condensed and far-more-accessible summary of Gary Dorrien’s three-volume trilogy, The Making of American Liberal Theology (Westminster John Knox Press 2001, 2003, and 2006), Dorrien here presses the argument that the most abundant, diverse, and persistent tradition of liberal theology is the one that blossomed in the United States and is still refashioning itself. While discussions of English and German liberalism persist, new material includes expanded treatment of the Black social gospel, the Universalists, developments into early 2020s, and a robust expression of the author’s post-Hegelian liberal-liberationist perspective.


"No one knows more about American theological liberalism than Gary Dorrien, and no book about it is more illuminating than this astonishing study of the liberal tradition in the nation in which it has been most persistent and diverse. Dorrien has read everything—from multi-volume tomes to letters and notes in archival collections—and then condensed this material into a coherent narrative in which the reader encounters not only the ideas but also the creative human beings who gave them birth. Writing in a terse and lively style, he presents us with an inclusive array of personalities and positions: men and women, Black and white, who refashioned an ancient tradition in a continually changing culture. The story is full of gripping descriptions, lucid insights, and bold judgments. It is a magisterial work." - E. Brooks Holifield, C.H. Candler Professor Emeritus, Emory University

"Dorrien's abridgement and revision of his three-volume history remains an authoritative reference that can function almost as an encyclopedia of liberal theology in the United States. If one wants to know more about an American theologian, one will be able to find an account of her or his life and thought that stands largely on its own, written by a master scholar. At the same time each essay fits into a larger story, and Dorrien's readable style will entice the reader into the overall history." - John B. Cobb, Jr., Professor of Theology Emeritus, Claremont School of Theology, and Co-Director of the Center for Process Studies

"In The Spirit of American Liberal Theology, the preeminent religious historian of our time, Gary Dorrien, offers a fresh, compelling, and definitive interpretation of the liberal theological tradition in the United States, from its Unitarian and Transcendentalist beginnings, through its social-gospel heyday, to its myriad trajectories in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries: evangelical and ultramodernist, personalist and process, pietistic and naturalist, feminist and liberationist, dialectical and revisionist, Protestant and Catholic, comparative and interfaith. With his signature blend of historical precision, deep analysis, lucid prose, and gripping storytelling, Dorrien shows how American liberal theology, despite its shortcomings, is more relevant today than ever, continuing to resist authority religion, chart a third way between overbelief and disbelief, engage in social-justice activism, integrate the latest advances in science and critical biblical scholarship, and creatively refashion itself in response to postmodernity, queer theory, liberation movements, ongoing interreligious encounter, and a global ecological crisis. An ideal textbook for college and seminary courses, The Spirit of American Liberal Theology is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of progressive religious thought and committed to its future development." - Demian Wheeler, Associate Professor of Philosophical Theology and Religious Studies, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities

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