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Theology and the End of Doctrine

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Gathering interest


This book is about the crisis brought about by doctrine’s estrangement from reality—that is from actual lives, experiences, histories, and from God. By invoking “the end of doctrine,” Christine Helmer opens a new discussion of doctrinal production that is engaged with the challenges and possibilities of modernity. The end of doctrine refers on the one hand to unquestioning doctrinal reception, which Helmer critiques, and on the other, represents an invitation to a new way of understanding the aim of doctrine in deeper connection to the reality that it seeks.

The book’s first section offers an analysis of the current situation in theology by reconstructing a trajectory of Protestant theology from the turn of the twentieth century to today. This history focuses primarily on the status of the word in theology and explains how changes in theology in the context of the political and social crisis in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s led to a distancing of the word from reality. Helmer then turns to the constructive section of the book to propose a repositioning of theology to the world and to God. Helmer’s powerful work will inspire revitalized interest in both doctrine and theological inquiry itself

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  • Provides a trajectory of Protestant theology from the turn of the twentieth century to today
  • Focuses primarily on the status of the word in theology
  • Offers an analysis of the current situation in theology
  • Theology and Doctrine
  • From Ritschl to Brunner: Neither Mysticism nor Metaphysics, but the Problem with Schleiermacher
  • From Trinitarian Representation to the Epistemic-Advantage Model: Word, Doctrine, Theology
  • Language and Reality: A Theological Epistemology with Some Help from Schleiermacher
  • Acknowledging Social Construction and Moving beyond Deconstruction: Doctrine for Theology and Religious Studies
Theology and the End of Doctrine is an important book, long in gestation. Only now, at some distance from the twentieth century, can we see new ways of narrating the story of liberal theology. Helmer’s ‘end’ of doctrine is only the ending of a chapter, not the story itself. Helmer challenges Lindbeck’s reading of Schleiermacher as a theologian for whom religious experience displaces the normativity of biblical language and doctrine. The way forward is not merely to analyze the grammar of the language of faith but rather to engage the lived reality that occasions this language. This is a stimulating work in constructive theology that opens up fresh approaches to several problems at once: the dual responsibility of theology to church and academy, the tension between transhistorical truth and historical tradition, and, most of all, the relation of doctrinal language to a theological reality (i.e., God) that, precisely because it is living, invites us to say not only something faithful but also something new.

—Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Research Professor of Systematic T heology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

The title is deliberately ambiguous: the true ‘end’ (purpose) of doctrine is to point beyond itself to the relation of the living God to human beings in this world. Where this ‘end’ is lost to view, we are threatened with the ‘end’ (demise) of doctrine. Christine Helmer wants to reinvigorate doctrine. To accomplish this goal, she takes us on a historical journey through twentieth-century theology: from the Ritschlian reaction against mysticism and metaphysics and Brunner’s critique of Schleiermacher through Barth’s theology of the Word to the creation of an epistemic model by the so-called Yale School in which doctrine has lost its referential status altogether and thus its connection to divine and historical reality. Helmer’s constructive solution proceeds through a recovery of Schleiermacher’s epistemology (exploding a few myths about the great Berliner along the way!) in order to advance an understanding of doctrine as the expression of a socially conceived interaction with the ‘real.’ What emerges from this fine study is a theological epistemology that expands and deepens Barth’s concept of the Word in important ways and an understanding of doctrine that repairs the damage done to its reputation in recent decades.

—Bruce L. McCormack, Charles Hodge Professor of Systematic Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary

  • Title: Theology and the End of Doctrine
  • Author: Christine Helmer
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox
  • Print Publication Date: 2014
  • Pages: 216
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Reader Edition
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2021-02-11T18:26:10Z

In the Logos Reader Edition, this volume is enhanced to best fit the content. Scripture references are hand-tagged to integrate with powerful functionality in Logos Bible Software. Page milestones and internal citation tagging provide accurate points of reference. Search important words across resources to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive tools for reading digital content are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Christine Helmer is Professor of German and Religious Studies at Northwestern University. She is the editor or coeditor of numerous volumes in the areas of biblical theology, Schleiermacher studies, and Luther scholarship, and is the main Christianity editor of the Encyclopedia of Bible and Its Reception. She is the author of The Trinity and Martin Luther and Theology and the End of Doctrine as well as instructor of the free massive open online course (MOOC): “Luther and the West.”


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    Digital list price: $19.99
    Save $7.00 (35%)

    Gathering interest