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date: 17 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Since the 1930s, neo-orthodoxy has been a major theological trajectory in worldwide Presbyterianism, alongside the Reformed orthodoxy of the Westminster Confession of Faith and a theological liberalism (informed by theologies of liberation) that interprets Scripture and traditional church teaching to advance a progressive social and political program. While neo-orthodoxy historically refers to a broader theological movement, the Swiss Reformed theologian Karl Barth became its leading exponent (although he rejected the label), and his monumental Church Dogmatics strongly influenced twentieth-century Presbyterian confessions, especially the Confession of 1967 in the United States, and the Confession of Belhar in South Africa. Nevertheless, Barthian theology never became the dominant theological influence among Presbyterians denominations worldwide, nor has it succeeded in mediating between Reformed Orthodoxy and theological liberalism. In the United States, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, and the Presbyterian Church in America hold exclusively to the Westminster Standards, as do many Presbyterian churches founded by North American missionary efforts in other parts of the world. Theological liberalism continues to be dominant in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), the Scottish Presbyterian Church, and the United Church of Canada. Barth’s theology nevertheless remains influential and interacts with other theologies today in new and fruitful ways.

Keywords: neo-orthodoxy, Karl Barth, Confession of 1967, Confession of Belhar, theological liberalism, Westminster Confession of Faith, Reinhold Niebuhr, reconciliation

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