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Modern Christian Theology

, 2016
ISBN: 9780567664761

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Christopher Ben Simpson tells the story of modern Christian theology against the backdrop of the history of modernity itself. Modern Christian Theology examines the many ways that theology became modern while seeing how modernity arose in no small part from theology. These intertwined stories progress through four parts, spanning from the beginnings of modernity in the late Middle Ages and progressing through the Protestant Reformation, the Enlightenments and awakenings of the eighteenth-century, the nineteenth-century, and through the twentieth-century’s crisis—covering each key personalities or movements from Karl Barth to the nouvelle théologie, liberation theology, and conservative Protestantism in America.

Learn how key themes in Christian theology and how it functions in the modern liberal arts university with Matthew Becker’s Fundamental Theology: A Protestant Perspective.

Key Features

  • Provides a comprehensive account of of how Christian theology has deveoped from the Reformation to the twenty-first century.
  • Maximizes pedagogical tools to aid retention, using charts, graphs, tables, and other visual aids
  • Examines how cultural forces influenced theological deveopment
  • Explains key ideas and describes the compelling personalities that drove theological reflection forward


  • Part I: Emerging Modernity
    • The Middle Ages and the Lost World
    • Reformation and Humanism: 1400–1650
    • Enlightenments and Awakenings: 1650–1800
    • Kant
  • Part II: The Long Nineteenth Century
    • Romanticism: 1800–1850
    • Schleiermacher
    • Hegel and Hegelians
    • Coping with the Nova
    • Early-Nineteenth-Century Catholic and Anglo-Catholic Theology
    • Ritschlianism
    • Late-Nineteenth-Century Catholic Theology
  • Part III: Twenntieth-Century Crisis and Modernity
    • Kierkegaard and Nietzsche
    • Barth
    • Bultmann and Tillich
    • Early-Twentieth-Century Catholic Theology
    • Conservative Protestants in America
  • Part IV: The Late Modern Supernova
    • Later Twentieth-Century Catholic Theology
    • Liberation Theologies
    • Revisionist and Secular Theologies
    • Postliberal and Postsecular Theologies

Top Highlights

“So between 1500 and 2000, a huge change happened in the western world, and we have named this profound, epochal change ‘modernity’. So, what happened? What was the change?” (Page 3)

“Charles Taylor (in his book A Secular Age—more on that in a moment) calls an immanent frame. We in the West, in Europe, the UK, and America especially, have an immanent perspective. What this means it that it is perfectly normal for people to pass through their lives with little thought for God or religion.” (Page 1)

“The world is because God wants it to be, not because it has to be. The traditional understanding of creation, then, is that the universe is a gift. The universe is fundamentally dependent on God, on creation as a free gift.” (Page 17)

“It is often not natural for people outside (and often inside) the Church to think in terms of Christianity, and you have to help them think in terms of that story—as if it were a different world. This is the initial point I’d like to make: a strong component of our current situation has to do with the difficulty, the dissonance, the strangeness of believing in the present.” (Page 2)

“‘Once, there was no ‘secular’.’ Once, and by ‘once’ we’re meaning as recently as the Middle Ages, humanity, the natural world, and the divine held together, and were understood together as a community, as an inherently ordered and harmonious community.” (Page 2)

Praise for the Print Edition

This is a splendid survey: judicious, precise and generous; marvelously comprehensive and yet concise. Students of modern theology will be deeply indebted to Simpson.

—David Bentley Hart, contributing editor, First Things and fellow, Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Studies

This is the best, most up-to-date, attractive, incisive and well-informed elementary guide to modern theology now available. It has no current rivals.

John Milbank, professor, University of Nottingham

Christopher Ben Simpson's book skilfully weaves together the manifold strands of modern Christian theology in a lively and readable manner that makes the subject approachable for the non-specialist. His broad, non-partisan approach shows how the story of Christian theology has always involved a range of often conflicting approaches and that this is likely to continue into the future - a good warning to those specialists insisting too loudly on the exclusiveness of their own claims.

—George Pattison, professor, University of Glasgow

About Christopher Ben Simpson

Christopher Ben Simpson is professor of philosophical theology at Lincoln Christian University. Simpson is the author of Religion, Metaphysics and Postmodern, The Truth is the Way: Kierkegaard's Theologia Viatorum, Deleuze and Theology, and Merleau-Ponty and Theology.


3 ratings

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  1. Richard



    Great book, good for people that want to gain a broad knowledge about the history of Modern Christian Theology. Still, I think that also more recent Theologian should have been added. As the field of Theology is probably never standing still. The writing still is clear, and the work is orderly done. A good book to waste your day on reading it, from cover to cover.
  2. Sean



    This is an outstanding and eminently readable work on a very challenging subject. It gives an extremely broad overview of the development of Christian theology from the scholasticism of the high middle ages to the post-modern theologies of the early 21st century. I would recommend this book more than any other I know for someone seeking an introduction to why theology is the way it is today and how we got here. The book contains several chapters on theologies often overlooked by studies of this sort, such as those of Roman Catholicism, Protestant confessionalism, fundamentalism, and Pentecostalism. Though it's not without flaws--the last is one of my areas of specialization and I noted several mistakes--this book deserves 7 out of 5 stars for covering these theologies at all and doing so very clearly and efficiently. Again, I highly recommend this book without reservation for anyone seeking an introduction to this era of historical theology. One choice of the author, unfortunately, limits its usefulness for more advanced students--it entirely lacks footnotes or any other form of citation. All it included at the end of chapter is a list of "Sources and Further Reading," which is mostly secondary and tertiary sources. Though important primary works are discussed in the chapters themselves, no aid is given to those seeking to follow up on specific points of the theologies being discussed. For that, one will have to look elsewhere. That said, this remains an excellent book.
  3. William




Digital list price: $29.99
Save $8.00 (26%)