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I've done a bit of editing to make this more readable. I'm not sure about the portion that is in parentheses though, and this might need to be further defined--perhaps through an example). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 22:40, 3 November 2004 (UTC)

Cross reference[edit]

Hope that no one minds the cross reference. Thanks. Fintor | talk —Preceding undated comment was added at 15:14, 10 February 2005 (UTC)

Karl Barth[edit]

Karl Barth is listed as a liberal theologian, so I am curious why there is the necessity to distance Barth from the existentialism of say, Paul Tillich, who is also as a liberal theologian. I wonder whether it might be better to distance him from Modernist_Christianity as this is more related to the effect of modernism on Christianity than Liberal Christianity which is more to do with Liberalism, although modernism could be considered a subset of Liberal belief --Randolph 04:37, 18 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I've made some edits to reflect this. --Randolph 04:50, 18 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Hmmm..I could have sworn I saw him listed in Liberal Theologians..oh well..strike that comment. --Randolph 06:56, 18 Apr 2005 (UTC)


I came across a redlink to Neo-orthodox Theology on the Theology page and redirected it to this page. --FurciferRNB 12 December 2005

Documentation needed[edit]

I believe documentation is needed for many claims in this article, not least the fundamental one that there ever was any such "movement" as neo-orthodoxy. It would help immensely if someone could document that a theologian associated with the term ever accepted it as a valid description of his or her work. I suspect it was never more than a term of derision, used first by German liberals and later by American Roman Catholics and Protestant fundamentalists, and which now has become part of the common theological vocabulary without having reeived, in English-speaking scholarship, the critical evaluation for which it calls. Moreover, it is an important question whether any one term can describe the widely varied theologies of the Niebuhr brothers (who were very different from each other), Paul Tillich, Karl Barth, Emil Brunner (who were more or less at each others' throats theologically from 1929 until Brunner's death in 1966), and Rudolph Bultmann, who lived in an entirely different theological and hermeneutical universe from the rest. Mtalleyrand (talk) 11:40, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

I have checked sources that use the term neo-orthodoxy for some of the individuals listed in the "Important Figures" section, and can find no published source that associates Stringfellow, Lehmann, or Ellul with this term. I am tagging them as citation needed, and will delete them if no citation is given in a day or two.Mtalleyrand (talk) 12:04, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

I deleted this section, since no references were ever given after I marked it, and it seems to contradict the section on difficulties identifying theologians to whom the term can meaningfully be applied.Mtalleyrand (talk) 20:57, 17 June 2008 (UTC)

I added a section on theologians who have been called neo-orthodox, and some of the problems with that, and moved the existing statement that the term has largely been abandoned into the opening paragraph. I'm now looking for the original source of the term.Mtalleyrand (talk) 13:28, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

I seem to be talking to myself here, but against the possibility that someone else gets interested in this article, I will continue to do so. I believe it would be valuable to change the section on theological emphases. Much of what is there might more appropriately be part of the articles on Barth, Brunner, and perhaps others, from readings of whose work they actually derive. In this article, perhaps it would be best to use this section to describe the things scholars like Tracy and Douglas John Hall say hold allegedly "neo-orthodox" theologians together, such as a mostly negative assessment of human nature and society.Mtalleyrand (talk) 12:52, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

I put the unreferenced section template here, and will edit the section along the lines I mentioned above when time permits.Mtalleyrand (talk) 20:57, 17 June 2008 (UTC)

Reversion explanation[edit]

Ian Barbour uses the term on pages 5, 116-19, 124, 134, 223, 229-32, 267f, 376-80, 383, 416, 422-25 of his book Issues in Science and Religion. Barbour is an A-list theologian. His usage makes it clear that Mtalleyrand is in error and his or her edits done with a lack of sources suggests extreme form of WP:OR.--Firefly322 (talk) 13:46, 23 July 2008 (UTC)

I beg your pardon, but my revisions were richly sourced, unlike the original, without a hint of original research. I am reverting this back to the way it was. Please do not revert again without specifically discussing the changes here, as I have done all along.Mtalleyrand (talk) 17:23, 24 July 2008 (UTC)
What has been written by you not only ignores the original scholarship (which was not only accurate to the expert but plausible and uncontroversial to the general reader) but nearly obliterates it. If such sources exist to support what you wrote (which is highly suspect), then these sources contradict scholars who are so much more respected and reliable, e.g. Ian Barbour, that their use is not really sensible. --Firefly322 (talk) 22:24, 24 July 2008 (UTC)
Let me quote User:Mtalleyrand "not least the fundamental one that there ever was any such 'movement' as neo-orthodoxy." This is the basic motivation for the changes made. Let me point out to other editors that the term Neo-orthodoxy is well used by Ian Barbour a scholar with a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Chicago and a B.S. in Divinity from Yale and who has taught at a top 10 liberal arts college for decades and even won the Templeton Prize. So User:Mtalleyrand's doubt of the existance of neo-orthodoxy is pseudo-skepticism. Altough I can sympathize with such thinking, such an attitude nevertheless remains fundamentally confused. --Firefly322 (talk) 22:43, 24 July 2008 (UTC)
I am once again going to put back my well documented text, and call User:Firefly322's attention to WP:EW Please discuss your changes. Add something about Barbour if you like. He was a decent scholar, a specialist in science & religion, but belonged to a previous generation. Moreover, I have not disputed the obvious fact that people use the term neo-orthodoxy. I am only pointing out that contemporary scholarship sees many problems.Mtalleyrand (talk) 00:07, 25 July 2008 (UTC)) 22:51, 24 July 2008 (UTC)
Barbour's usage in a textbook simply refutes your comments and your justifications for making changes. Other editors can figure out what's going on. Perhaps listing at WP:3 will help.--Firefly322 (talk) 23:07, 24 July 2008 (UTC)
I do not doubt that Barbour uses the term. I am on vacation and cannot consult my copy of his book. I have cited several scholars who likewise use the term in often-contradictory ways. Please feel free to write about how Barbour uses the term. However, his use of the term does not contradict what I have written, but is only an instance of one facet of the problem.Mtalleyrand (talk) 23:52, 24 July 2008 (UTC)
Again, let me quote "not least the fundamental one that there ever was any such 'movement' as neo-orthodoxy." For someone who claims to be a seminary professor on their user page, it seems virtually impossible for this to be true when even a collegiate dictionary states that neo-orthodoxy was in fact a movement. See Meriam-Webster. Were it routinely used as a term of "opproprium", Merriam-webster would write something along those lines and possibly provide a tag as usually disparaging. --Firefly322 (talk) 12:50, 25 July 2008 (UTC)
Also the Merriam-webster website provides a link to Britannica where we again see that your rewrite is, in comparison, off the wall. --Firefly322 (talk) 12:55, 25 July 2008 (UTC)
Are Merriam-webster and Britannica also "[facets] of the problem" ? The original article is in line with these two sources as well as Ian Barbour. Your changes are not. --Firefly322 (talk) 13:11, 25 July 2008 (UTC)
Here's a minor third opinion, not on the substance which I know little about. But given this obviously is a contention version, either version should have inline citations - and with page numbers. See Wikipedia:Citing_sources#When_adding_material_that_is_challenged_or_likely_to_be_challenged. I personally feel such inline citations are more credible, whatever the disputed material is. Carol Moore 15:31, 25 July 2008 (UTC)Carolmooredc {talk}

Third opinion. I have removed the following statement temporarily and without prejudice;

Some theologians believe that two brothers, Reinhold Niebuhr[1] (1892-1971) and H. Richard Niebuhr (1894-1962), did more to introduce neo-orthodoxy to America than anyone else.

This is because "some theologians" looks like "weasel words", given the rather subjective evaluation the sentence represents, unless the ENTIRE statement can be attributed to some reliable source. Preferably that source should be attributed inline. Please add HERE verifiable and sourced statements of notable authorities re. the importance of the Niehburs in introducing this theology to America. Redheylin (talk) 16:09, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

Further please note that neither Niehbur's own article relates them straightforwardly to neo-orthodoxy. The requested data, if available, should be added there too, preferably first. Redheylin (talk) 16:14, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

Requested evidence[edit]

In the index (volume 30) of the 2002, hard-copy Encyclopedia Americana (p.516) there is this entry: neoorthodoxy (Dalectical theology; Theology of crisis) 6:660; 22:691-92

  • Barth, Karl 3:276-77
  • Brunner, Emil 4:654


  • 6:660
"Protestant Neoorthodoxy stood in the same loose relation to Soren Kierkegaard that Modernism did to Newman. Its chief prophet, Karl Barth, electrified the theological world by his Romans (1919), introducing a "theology of crisis," which, in rejection of Liberalism, reaffirmed Pauline, Augustinian, and Reformation doctrines of the divine initiative and the Bible as God's Word. In America, Reinhold Niebuhr similarly returned from Liberalism to Biblical and early Protestant points of emphasis."
  • 22:691-92
"20th Century. Protestanitism entered the 20th century with great optimism inspired by the achievements of liberal theology and missionary success. Its confidence was severely jolted, however, by World War I, which proved that Christendom had not progressed beyond barbarism after all, and by theological controversy. But it moved toward greater social involvement and religious unity."
"Reaction to Liberal Theology. By 1900, Liberal theology and its concomitants--biblical criticism and the theory of evolution--were being challenged in the U.S. by fundamentalists, who believed that these elements were destroying the fundamental truths of Chrsitanity and dedicated themselves to rooting them out. As a reslut, several deonminations split, and new ones, many of them Pentecostal, formed."
"Liberal theology was challenged on another level by the new, postwar Crisis theology, developed in Europe by the Swiss pastor Karl Barth. Trained as a liberal but disillusioned by the war, he published a commentary on Romans (1919) in which he called for a return to the traditional, orthodox Christian view of sin. This neoorthodoxy, did not, however, return to other aspects of orthodoxy but accepted the results of biblical criticism and scientific thought. Fundamentalists found it even more distasteful than liberalism."
"Crisis theology, or neoorthodoxy, saw the Bible as the ultimate authority but did not consider it inerrant. God, it affirmed, does not reveal doctrines but makes himself known in history through his "mighty acts," chief of which is Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit enabled the biblical writers to see the acts as a revelation of God's will and can likewise inspire readers. Believers may avoid the fundamentalist error of pitting the biblical story of creation against the scientific theory of evolution by recognizing that the Bible does not attempt to give a scientific explanation of how the universe began; it reveals God's will and purpose in creation."
"Because neoorthodoxy emphasized the doctrine of sin, it was often considered pessimistic. In fact, it firmly believed in the power of God to renew human life. Its position was summed up in Jesus' words "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). The charge that neoorthodxy had no social or political concerns also was inaccurate. Barth threw himself into the struggle against Hitler and was forced to flee. Reinhold Niebuhr, who took neoorthodoxy to America, was second to none in his concern to apply Christianity to the social realm."
"Many neoorthodox were attracted to existentialism, a philosophy developed by the 19th century Dane Soren Kierkegaard and rediscovered in the 20th century by such men as Martin Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, and Jean-Paul Sartre. Also a reaction against rationalism and science, existentialism, according to Kierkegaard, insists that religious truth is discovered not by abstract thought or scientific observation but by living. God cannot be an object of human thought; he is a living person who challenges us to decision. Christianity, said Kierkegaard, is the courage to be an individual over against the masses, whose minds have been subjected to mass media. Existentialism does not ask "What is Christianity?" and expect an answer in terms of doctrine. It asks, "How does one become a Christian?", which must be answered by individual decision."

—Preceding unsigned comment added by Firefly322 (talkcontribs) 19:03-19:52, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

Paul Tillich's Perspectives on 19th and 20th century Protestant theology [edit]

Neo-orthodoxy, xxix-xxxi, 25, 31, 173 is listed as an entry in its index (p.252)

  • pages xxix-xxxiv have section title "From Orthodoxy to Neo-Orthodoxy"
  • page xxxiii has this statement: "Tillich's career was begun when liberal theology was on the wane; he lived through the transitions of theology from the rise of 'crisis' theology to is transformation by Barth into neo-orthodoxy, and from the decline of Barth's influence to the paramountcy of Bultmannianism after World War II."

—Preceding unsigned comment added by Firefly322 (talkcontribs) 20:22, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

Alister E. McGrath's The Blackwell Companion to Protestantism[edit]

Neo-orthodoxy along with Fundamentalism is described as "anti-cultural moves, dictated by a fortress mentality. "They are defensive forms of Christian living in a complex world; attempts to remain free of or withdraw from the various cultural pressures that are thought to compromise their biblical-based accounts of Chrisitan praxis. Manuel Castells calls them 'resistance communities' (Castells, 1997: 5-67)." —Preceding unsigned comment added by Firefly322 (talkcontribs) 20:34, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

Opinion the third here. I understand why the reference was altered. The sentence was right in respect of one brother. The importance of the other has yet to be established. Can a well-sourced statement be found for him? Redheylin (talk) 23:48, 26 July 2008 (UTC)
"I have something along those lines. I need to find an electronic version or quote part of it for you. I should have it up in ten to twenty minutes." --Firefly322 (talk) 00:21, 27 July 2008 (UTC)

[The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought][edit]

On Page 468 there is a neo-orthodoxy entry that notes

"Despite their considerable differences and theological contexts, Protestant theologians such as Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, Friedrich Gogarten, Paul Tillich, H. Richard Niebuhr, and Reinhold Niebuhr are often grouped under the title 'neo-orthodox' to highlight their common interest in constructing a theology grounded on Reformation principles. At the time they often described it as a 'dialectical theology'. Its major characteristics are the critique of 19th- and early 20th-century liberal theology with its failure to distinguish sharply between God and the world, and the construction of a theology firmly based on the proclamation of God's word in the bible. But despite this emphasis on God's otherness, and stern warnings not to confuse God's realm with the human (dalectical theology), even neo-orthodox theologians are rooted in a particular cultural context. Two world wars, the terror imposed by totalitarian regimes, a technologically organized Holocaust together with insights into the amibiquity of religion, progress, politics, science, and technology have led to a deep mistrust of all human institutions and culture. God's transcendence must be safeguarded and human brokenness affirmed. Humanity's only hope is God's saving action in Christ. This strong Christocentrism confonts individuals with the need for a radical decision for or against God's word in Jesus Christ as proclaimed by the church." --Firefly322 (talk) 00:33, 27 July 2008 (UTC)

Will this do???

According to the Encyclopedia Americana it was Reinhold Niebuhr's return from Liberalism to Biblical and early Protestant points of emphasis that marked the introduction of neoorthodoxy to America. Niehbur was second to none in his concern to apply Christianity to the social realm: his brother Reinhold Niebuhr was also prominent in the construction of neoorthodox theology.[2] Redheylin (talk) 01:24, 27 July 2008 (UTC)

Do you mean "his brother Richard Niebuhr"?Vorbee (talk) 16:54, 20 July 2017 (UTC)

The material supports both brothers in the article, but the sentence taken out probably needs to be recast, rewritten, etc. to reflect known weaknesses. --Firefly322 (talk) 01:58, 27 July 2008 (UTC)
The material does not give prominence to the other brother as the introducer to America but only as a prominent theologian. The version above contains all relevant material you have offered. One cannot attribute to these two sources statements that they do not make. The statement that the two were "second to none in introducing" is not borne out. Redheylin (talk) 02:26, 27 July 2008 (UTC)
"second to none in introducing" is a quote from volumen 22 pages 691-692 of the 2002 Encyclopedia Americana. All quotes above have been provided to give understanding of how this topic is handled in other encylopedia sources in general. In particular, the material shows that H. Richard Niebuhr and Reinhold Niebuhr are both noteworthy figures for the article. Earlier editors material may need to be re-worked.--Firefly322 (talk) 11:06, 27 July 2008 (UTC)
Regarding 3rd-Opinion dispute. As I've learned at the library, the other most recent editor does indeed employ some good up-to-date sources, but his or her lede seemed out-of-line with other summaries, while the original (not written by me) was pretty much inline with them. If my actions or comments were too quick to judge or too crude in judgement, I fear I may have strayed into WP:BITE. --Firefly322 (talk) 11:06, 27 July 2008 (UTC)
Well, if you feel that way I am sure you can find a way to sort it out. I hope nobody feels reluctant to offer sources. Now, the EA says that one brother was "second to none in social concern", NOT in introducing to America, but certainly that the introduction was due to him. The Oxford confirms both brothers were important. But you cannot claim absolute preeminence for both, much less attribute this judgment to "theologians" without attribution, on the basis of these sources. Is this such an important thing, that you would hold us up just to assert something that cannot be verified?
It is so easy to word it according to the sources, which make it clear that both brothers were notable in this regard. Please do not refer to sources that you cannot produce or move the discussion to other matters; that defeats the object of the exercise. If there are sources that offer views that seem "out of line", please produce those: it would be conscientious to find a way to incorporate that material. Please do not forget to make a concordance with the brothers' own pages and other articles. Please ask the other editors warmly to participate. Redheylin (talk) 12:09, 27 July 2008 (UTC)

Firefly, I note that you have not replied nor contacted other involved editors, but have continued to edit. Would you like me to reword and reinsert the sentence, or suggest a version yourself, or what? Redheylin (talk) 01:01, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

I always thought the sentence was weak. I only left it because of WP:AGF for the original editors. I think it can be left out for now, but your rewording and reinsertion would be another way forward. I leave it up to you. --Firefly322 (talk) 10:21, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

Lutheran Orthodoxy[edit]

Does it at all relate to Lutheran Orthodoxy? (Or I suspect not). It would possibly be profitable if the article could relate Neo-Orthodoxy to Lutheran Orthodoxy – or unrelate it. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 17:43, 17 October 2010 (UTC)

Would like to see this sourced[edit]

"I don't disagree or dispute this, but would be very interested in seeing this sourced. This is a hunch I've had for a long time. It was less influential among mainline Protestant groups with an Arminian theological orientation, such as the Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and the Northern Baptists, with many pastors in these denominations opting to continue the traditions of American religious liberalism (while others firmly took their stands with evangelicalism)." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:47, 29 December 2010 (UTC)

Eastern Orthodoxy[edit]

Any relationship between neo-orthodoxy and Eastern Orthodoxy? Were the former's proponents influenced by the latter's theology in any way? Or is the similarity in naming just a coincidence? FiredanceThroughTheNight (talk) 23:06, 17 February 2013 (UTC)

I would like this question to be sent to an Orthodox theologian. I believe one critical point of clarification relates to the word "forensic". If you follow the link to the Wikipedia article you will only find it used as in crime scene investigations. In my limited understanding of Orthodox theology, the word is used to critique Western theology's narrow interpretation of justification, that it, seeing God as a judge who pronounces the accused as guilty, but exonerated by grace. Orthodoxy has a broader definition of salvation as theosis.Beau in NC (talk) 14:25, 27 November 2018 (UTC)

More Than Mere Documentation Needed: How About Truth In Labelling?[edit]

The article is full of references to revelations by God when what is actually meant is something quite different, human reports of what some, but not all, people believe to be revelations from God.

What we actually have, the reports, is three steps away from God, since a.) they are only human reports; b.) the people making the reports, no matter how sincere, well-motivated, intelligent and observant they may be, may still be mistaken; they may be delusions, or honest attempts to explain unusual occurances; and c.) even if something is a revelation it may not be from God; any other spiritual force going around making revelations has every reason to try to convince people that he/it is God when something different, or opposite, may be the case. Books which tell us about God also tell us about, e.g. The Devil...

This is a serious matter, since people who think they have revelations from God are not shy in forcing their views on others. Obviously this would be wonderful if they were right -- but there is, um, at least the possibility that they are not.

David Lloyd-Jones (talk) 18:49, 16 January 2014 (UTC)


Why was the English language article on Thurneysen removed? MaynardClark (talk) 14:05, 5 October 2014 (UTC)

I don't want to affront you, but I did a little Googling of Thurneysen and wonder if someone might have questioned whether he met the test of notability. I would think Wikipedia would have an archive of deleted pages, so that the talk page could be reviewed, but if it does, I don't know where it it. I'll asl around.Dgndenver (talk) 02:46, 11 April 2016 (UTC)

There has never been a page called Eduard Thurneysen. Perhaps it was under a different spelling. Rmhermen (talk) 04:58, 11 April 2016 (UTC)

Well, that would certainly explain it! I did ask at the Village Pump, and was directed to some off-site resources for deleted pages, but didn't find anything there, either. Dgndenver (talk) 20:45, 16 May 2016 (UTC)

There is now an article on Thurneysen, and viewing its history reveals it has been in Wikipedia since November 2016, so that reveals it has entered Wikipedia after the above comments were typed. Vorbee (talk) 16:48, 20 July 2017 (UTC)


  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference BR1 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ EA

Article in Wikipedia on Karl Barth[edit]

   This article says that "Karl Barth is the leading figure associated with the movement"(i.e. neo-orthodoxy) right at the start of the article, but the article on Karl Barth says that Karl Barth rejected the term neo-orthodoxy. Vorbee (talk) 16:44, 20 July 2017 (UTC)

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