The following comes from Contemporary Theology…“an overview of theology over the last 50 years. It deals mainly with pinpointing certain theological trends and the most influential and well known movements of the day” by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon. This is offered as a bit of a follow up concerning what I talk about in the Apprising Ministries article Rob Bell And Karl Barth.

As you read through this overview you should be able to see where this seriously off-track postevangelicalism has been heading. The views of neo-orthodoxy are quite obvious within the three major pillars of the Ecumenical Church of Deceit (ECoD) — namely the Purpose Driven Church, the Word Faith Church and most particularly the postliberal cult of the Emergent Church.

A highly subjective and existential—very wrong—view of Scripture is a critical doctrine of demons necessary to unite this ECoD through spiritually corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) and its Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP), which flowered in the antibiblical monastic traditions of apostate Roman Catholicism, i.e. no longer Christian.

With an able assist from ordained Southern Baptist minister Dallas Willard currently The Cult of Guru Richard Foster is conditioning more and more mainstream evangelical pastors, leaders, and ministers (think frog in the kettle) through spurious Spiritual Formation (SF) courses in college and/or seminary to see this CSM as a viable approach to God. And a reimagined neo-orthodox approach to the Bible was a perfect fit for the ECoD’s repainted semi-pelagianism…


Neo-orthodoxy, as it was known in North America, was also known as “crisis” or “dialectical” theology in Europe. Most church historians see the founding father of neo-orthodoxy as Karl Barth. Barth was a prolific writer who’s magnum opus is known as Church Dogmatics (which was over 8,000 pages long). He has received mixed reviews among theologians, but among conservative orthodoxy his neo-orthodoxy is quite heretical.

Barth attempted to set the Gospel in a new language which could be understood by contemporary society because the old transmission of the Gospel was inadequate. Barth taught universal election, and that the Word of God only becomes the Word of God through the work of the Holy Spirit to each individual in a subjective way.

Emil Brunner may also be seen as a co-founder of neo-orthodox theology. He is known for his “crisis theology” which taught that a turning point in history occurs when God in Christ confronts humanity. A person then became aware that there are two roads to take, one toward God and life and the other away from God and toward death. Brunner, like Barth, rejected both liberalism and transitional orthodoxy.

Brunner’s work, called Dogmatics, was compiled before his death in 1966. As with Barth, Brunner believed God did not reveal Himself through Scripture, but through experience with Scripture. The ultimate revelation of God is found in the person of Jesus Christ and the Bible is where Christ meets the reader. The Bible, then is not the infallible or inerrant word of God, but an “opportunity” to meet the reader as he reads.

Other important neo-orthodox figures include Reinhold Niebuhr and Dietrich Bonhoffer. Niebuhr may be regarded as the first American neo-orthodox pioneer. His theology is expressed in his two volume work The Nature and Destiny of man. Bonhoeffer was arrested by the German Nazi’s and sent to the Tegel Military Prison outside Berlin. It was during this period that he wrote what later became Letters and Papers from Prison.

He emphasized “religionless Christianity”. He was executed just before the camp was liberated, but had a great impact on Europeans and American theology through his written works, such as the Cost of Discipleship which antithesized cheap grace from real grace.

Neo-orthodox theology teaches that the Bible is not the Word of God in that it is a series of true verbal propositions to be believed. Rather, it is an existential encounter with Jesus. There is no standard of truth and no absolutes. Jesus is God and Jesus is not God are equally true.

God is represented as wholly other. He is completely transcendent and unknowable. Neo-orthodoxy teaches universalism, and sees Jesus as God’s divine messenger of love to the masses. Neo-orthodoxy also rejects the Fall (following Pelagius) demonstrating that people are not sinners when they are born. Rather, they become sinful when they sin. (Online source)

Republished with permission from An Overview of Contemporary theology by:

Rev. C. Matthew McMahon, Ph.D.
Pastor of Christ Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church,

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