Ernst Troeltsch on Christianity and Modernity'>
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Document Details :

Title: Ernst Troeltsch' visie op christendom en moderniteit
Subtitle: Ernst Troeltsch on Christianity and Modernity
Author(s): MOLENDIJK, Arie L.
Journal: Bijdragen
Volume: 57    Issue: 1   Date: 1996   
Pages: 20-39
DOI: 10.2143/BIJ.57.1.2002434

Abstract :
Ernst Troeltsch was one of the great modern theologians who studied extensively the transformation of Christianity in modern times. The present article discusses Troeltsch's many-sided historical, sociological and systematical analysis of the relation between Christianity and modernity. The Enlightenment - the beginning of modern age - means to Troeltsch a break with the old - catholic and reformed - churches, which up till then dominated society as a whole. The separation between State and Church is the main characteristic of modernity. Nevertheless it is wrong to construct here an absolute antithesis. Sectarian Christian groups like the Baptists, the Quakers and the so-called protestant 'Spiritualists' (Seb. Franck among others) made a contribution to modernity by demanding the toleration of individualist forms of piety and liberty of conscience. These principles have to be adopted by the churches, if they want to survive. Troeltsch's ecclesiastical ideal is a pluralistic church, which guarantees a maximum of religious freedom ti its members. Modernity, however, not only requires a change in religion but also in theology. An appeal to supernatural revelation or authority as such is no longer valid. Theology has to be transformed into a mainly historical discipline with general accepted scholarly methods. Troeltsch advocates a more empirical approach focussing on actual religion and not so much on dogmatical niceties. As far as the above would suggest the picture of Troeltsch as a happy 'Kulturprotestant', one must keep in mind that he was deeply concerned about what he considered to be the devastating consequences of industrial capitalism and the modern bureaucratic state for human freedom. Christianity was in his view one of the possible ressources to counteract these dangerous tendencies. The value of personalism, as metaphysically rooted in a transcendent God, is the main contribution of Christianity to the world according to this 'theology of culture'.

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