Nature of Doctrine author was a missionary to postmodernity.
Ecumenical theologian George Lindbeck, who helped define the postliberalism movement that transformed 21st-century Protestantism, died earlier this month at age 94.
A Lutheran scholar who spent more than half his life on faculty at Yale Divinity School, Lindbeck passed away on January 8 in a Florida hospice. He spent his final years in assisted living after suffering a brain aneurism in 2009.
Lindbecks influential 1984 book, The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age, established a theology that rejected modern liberal Protestant thinking that defined religious truth by common personal experiences, and instead proposed a cultural-linguistic approach that saw the creeds and practices of faith communities as the basis for religious understanding.
Whatever else postliberalism is, it was meant to be an apologetic help to be a credal or mere Christian in our age, wrote George Sumner, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. That is what George was and what he wanted to promote. Furthermore, it was a deeply missionary-influenced theory.
Raised in China and Korea as the son of Lutheran missionaries, Lindbeck grew up to become what Sumner called a missionary to postmodernity.
Lindbecks theology, focused on belief and worldview formation over rational argumentation or emotional experience, grew popular among evangelicals, as did work by his colleague and fellow postliberal theologian Hans Frei.
If the sort of research program represented by postliberalism has a real future as a communal enterprise of the church, its more likely to be carried on by evangelicals than anyone else, Lindbeck told a crowd of evangelical theologians