The proper position is that contemporary theology is some combination of the two possible opinions. Contemporary theology is, in some ways, an addition or a correction to traditional theology. If one believes the Bible and God’s word to be something that should be understood and re-discovered over the course of a lifetime, then one must understand new or contemporary theology as the ability of individuals to re-discover the old theology in new and inventive ways. Simply put, the Bible is the sort of text that new thinkers can constantly re-discover through new analysis.
At the same time, it may be incorrect to view new theology as being a “correction” to traditional theology. Rather, it is better seen as an evolution in new theology. It is not fair to necessarily state that contemporary theology is opposed to contemporary theology. The truth is that contemporary theology is no more correct or incorrect than traditional theology. The only reality is that contemporary theology is not an addition, or a correction, but rather, a new way of viewing things. Contemporary theology can work alongside traditional theology in many respects. For instance, contemporary theology may be able to reveal new ways that the gospel can be used in order to apply theology to modern issues. Most often, theology is viewed in ancient terms, but Christians are often looking for ways that Christians can apply their Biblical principles to the things that they face in everyday life. Contemporary theology is an attempt not only to “correct” traditional theology, but rather, to take the old interpretations and apply it to new situations that people might face on a daily basis.
There are some times when modern theology may appear to be opposed to the traditional doctrines. In some cases, the two might bump heads. It is important, however, to notice that the purported differences between modern and traditional theology is actually a difference of measure rather than a difference in kind. it represents different people applying a new interpretation in their own time, which is different than offering a “correction.”
New Atheism falls as far toward atheism as possible. In fact, it might even fall to a place even more radical that actual atheism. This is because New Atheism not only trumpets the tenets of atheism, but it also purprots to challenge every single thing about religion. It wants to take on religion in a very tangible waym providing religion with an active social critique that constantly puports to cause religion, and specifically Christianity, to answer the questions about itself.
Liberation theology is on the opposite side of atheism on the spectrum, as it has a very specific interpretaiton of the words of Jesus on the issue of the poor. While many forms of religion discuss the way a person can improve itself, liberation theology deals specifically with Jesus’s words on how to deal with the poor and how to help the poor. Paradoxically, this makes it something that is closer to atheism, as New Atheism tends to look at how Christianity and religion do not serve the poor.
New Age Religion tends very closely toward atheism on the spectrum, as it tends to respect many different interpretations of religion rather than looking at one very specific version of Christianity. This is a form of religion that tends to look much harder at religion through the score of humanism.
The “Jesus Seminar” is something that trends closely with liberation theology. It seeks to find the “real” Jesus, which is close to trying to find Jesus on his teachings with the poor. This form of Christian movement is mostly concerned with challenging the precepts of Christianity, which makes it somewhat close to atheism in a way.
Orthodoxy is very far from atheism on the spectrum. It deals with the specific adherence to Christianity, which would trend very harshly away from a look at religion which questioned the very existence of God.
- Cimino, R., & Smith, C. (2011). The New Atheism and the formation of the imagined secularist community. Journal of Media and Religion, 10(1), 24-38.
- Haught, J. F. (2008). God and the New Atheism: a critical response to Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens. Westminster John Knox Press.
- Stenger, V. J. (2009). The new atheism: Taking a stand for science and reason. Prometheus Books.