Not Radical Enough: William Dean's Pragmatic Problems in Dealing with God and History

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In working towards a contemporary understanding of God and history, the understanding of history needs to be taken extremely seriously—it is, after all, at least half of the discussion. The theological discussion of history has been rich and varied in the 20th century, with Barth, Bultmann, Tillich, both Neibuhrs, Gilkey, Ogden, Pannenberg, Mark C. Taylor, and others weighing in with major contributions. While this study cannot hope to make a full inquiry into each of their views, an examination of at least one major thinker who has taken the impact of historical consciousness on theology seriously is necessary in order to see what impact a modern historical view has for a contemporary doctrine of the understanding of God and history. I will therefore examine William Dean's historicism that looks back to the radical empiricism of James and Dewey, the early Chicago School and the empirical theology that followed it for inspiration in elucidating the relationship between God and history. Dean's efforts can serve as a cautionary example: exemplary in his willingness to take the question of historical reductionism seriously and wrestle with the neopragmatists and deconstructionists espousing it; and cautionary in that he illustrates the difficulties of attending too closely to the strictly historical without taking into account moral, aesthetic, and religious experience.

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American Journal Of Theology And Philosophy





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