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The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age [Copertina flessibile]

George A. Lindbeck

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Publisher: Westminster Press
Date of Publication: 1984
Binding: soft cover
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Condition: Good
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Amazon.com: 4.2 su 5 stelle  8 recensioni
44 di 47 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle Key book for dealing with the nature of doctrine & religion 10 settembre 1996
Di Un cliente - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato:Copertina flessibile
Lindbeck begins this important work by presenting three
approaches to understanding the nature of religion which
in turn are accompanied by three understandings of what
doctrine is. The first he calls the cognitive, the view that
religion is mostly concerned with knowledge and beliefs. It
is understood in comparison with science. Doctrine, on such
an understanding. consists of informative propositions. A second
model is the Experiential Expressive. Personal consciousness
and feeling are central here. Doctrine in this conception
consists of symbolizations of inner states of mind and feeling.
The third model, and the one Lindbeck finds most helpful, he
calls the cultural linguistic. Using this model, doctrines
are seen as analogous to grammatical rules.

Lindbeck's position is motivated, first (and from a personal
perspective) by his long time ecumenical interests. A cognitive
view of religion and doctrine makes doctrinal change (needed
in some form for ecumenism to work) hard to conceive, while
an EE approach tends to minimize all distinctions between
groups, short-circuiting the dialogue. The second major influence
on Linbeck is postmodern philosophy of language, Wittgenstein
and Austin in particular. Lindbeck's use of these two, especially
of Austin, seems superficial. Austin is famous for his
discussion of the performative dimension of language. Lindbeck
seems to have read only the first few chapters of How to Do Things
With Words - never reaching the point where Austin rejects
a hard division between performatives and conatives (descriptive
or truth claiming).

In spite of its philosophical weaknesses, this is a book that
must be reckoned with by all who would write in the field.
23 di 24 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
4.0 su 5 stelle Coined the term 'Postliberalism'... 19 maggio 2002
Di W. Owens - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato:Copertina flessibile|Acquisto verificato Amazon
This work is a small classic in the `postliberal' movement which originated under the influence of Lindbeck and Hans Frei. Other theologians who bear some of the same characteristics include Placher, Hunsinger, Thiemann, Tanner, Kelsey, and Hauerwas. Postliberals emphasize the specificity of Christianity (and all religions) and a Christological and intratextual method of theology that finds the meaning of Christian language within Scripture. This meaning is given in the praxis of the church and the task of the systematic theologian is to give a normative self-description of the community as well as to discern deficiencies and distortions in communal practices. New proposals are primarily pragmatic in that they aim to `build up the body of believers.' Accusations of relativism and fideism naturally follow the postliberal denial of a universal ground of knowledge and their stress on internal description over external description (usually philosophy). However, Lindbeck believes the cultural/linguistic model will generate more conversation with other disciplines than the usual models (cognitive and experiential) since many historians, sociologists, anthropologists, and philosophers also employ approaches that utilize a cultural and/or linguistic scheme. Postliberal theology is open to rational testing, but reasonableness is assessed by its ability to provide an intelligible interpretation, in its own terms, of the relevant practical and cognitive data of Christian believers. Ad hoc apologetics is preferred over systematic.
The main argument of this book is twofold: religion (Christianity included) as a cultural/linguistic community and a regulative view of doctrines. The religion provides a frame of interpretation that shapes life, thought, and actions of the believer. Basic patterns of the religion are interiorized through worship, proclamation, and instruction. Doctrines serve as rules that regulate the communities' discourse, attitudes, and practices. Lindbeck's work reflects aspects of Wittgenstein, Geertz, and Peter Berger among others. One word of warning: this book is meant to be provocative and not definitive. If you are not already sympathetic to the cultural/linguistic approach (or unsympathetic to the cognitivist or experiential approaches) you will probably not be convinced. The Nature of Doctrine initiated an ongoing conversation and simply seeks to establish the viability of a cultural/linguistic framework and rule theory of doctrine for ecumenical, interreligious, and non-religious discussions.
What follows are some points in the book that I found interesting.
A religion is described as one large proposition. Does it as a whole (discursive and nondiscursive symbols, practices, action, etc.) correspond to God's will (for Christians)?
The basis for interreligious dialogue is that other religions may contain potential actualities and realities explored that may not fall within the scope of Christianity but nevertheless be God-willed, God-approved aspects of the coming kingdom.
Just as Cyprian said there is no salvation outside the church, Lindbeck states that there is no damnation outside the church either. One must know the language of faith before one can ultimately reject it. He also speculates of a post-mortem encounter with Jesus.

Theological assertions are true only in context i.e. `when speaking religiously.' He gives the example of Luther who says `I can only say "Christ is Lord" when I make him my Lord.' Ontological truth happens in the context of existential participation in proclamation, praise, and prayer not in the abstract.
Lindbeck advocates a modest cognivitism he finds in Aquinas. `God is good' is true but we do not know how it is true.
The scriptural world "absorbs" the universe. Scripture gives the world meaning rather than vice-versa. He states that Aquinas, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and even Schleiermacher used this method to varying degrees.
A couple aspects I would like to see given more rigorous treatment are the relation of intrasystematic to ontological truth and a theological treatment of the church as a cultural/linguistic community. If anyone knows if this has been done please contact me. An aside: Unlike other reviewers I am not a masters student in theology only an educated layperson but I had little difficulty in comprehending the vocabulary employed in the book. If you are used to reading theology you will not have much trouble with Lindbeck's book. Also, one wonders that if you admittedly had trouble understanding the concepts in a text if you are then able to adequately critique that same text. Anyway, if you are interested enough to come here and read reviews you are interested enough to read the book. Enjoy. PIC
9 di 10 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle Postliberal approach to religion and theology 10 dicembre 2008
Di Ben Kickert - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato:Copertina flessibile|Acquisto verificato Amazon
Ben Kickert. Review of George A Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine: Religion Theology in a Postliberal Age (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1984).

In 1984 George A. Lindbeck presented a new approach to viewing religion and doctrine in his book The Nature of Doctrine. As the subtitled indicates, it was his desire to provide a "framework for discussion" (10) that was compatible with the emerging postliberal movement. What he came up with is non-theological approach that advocates a cultural-linguistic view of religion and a rules-based understanding of doctrine. He then evaluates his proposal in light of various test cases. This review will assess the usefulness of this approach and evaluate the book as a whole.

The author makes his personal religious convictions clear. He is a Christian, with a great interest in unity in the midst of diversity (7-8). He wants to be able to adequately address not only divergent beliefs, but the dynamic nature of beliefs (9). In order to do this, he calls for a paradigm shift on behalf of theologians and students of religion (8). Lindbeck admits the approach he lays out is mostly theoretical, but invites others to evaluate it (11). The book is laid out in 6 chapters. The first serves as an introduction while chapters 2-3 address the cultural-linguistic approach. Chapters 4-5 deal with rules theory of doctrine while chapter 6 outlines a larger theological framework.

In his introductory chapter, Lindbeck critiques the approaches to religion that were dominant in his day. He describes two major methods: the cognitive and the experiential-expressive. The former focuses on truth claims as the primary determinate of religion while the later uses experiences. The author also looks at a third approach that seeks to synthesize these two. In light of his goal, the author rejects these and turns instead to an understanding that views religion in terms similar to culture or language. He expands this discussion in chapter 2 and argues for the superiority of a cultural-linguistic approach. The non-theological framework he presents contends that like culture "religions produce experience" (33) rather than being the explainer of experience. Furthermore, like language, it must be learned and interiorized; only then can a person full participate through expression and experience (35-37). This is a complete reversal of the experiential-expressive model. Chapter 4 evaluates whether this non-theological theory of religion can be religiously useful by looking at the concept of superiority of religions, their interrelationship, salvation for non-adherents and the overarching concepts of religious truth. The author concludes a superior religion is categorically true, rightly utilized, and corresponds to ultimate reality (52). From here religions can regard themselves as different without judging superiority. In regards to the salvation question, Lindbeck take a universalist approach.

Chapter 4 moves to the issue of doctrine within religions. It is here the author lays out his approach. He contends, "a rule theory not only is doctrinally possible but has advantages over other positions" (73). The result is a view of doctrine that operates like grammatical rules rather than absolute faith statements. This allows for differences within religions and between religions to stand without the need to reconcile them. This theory is tested in chapter 5 by evaluating three contentious issues: Christology, Mariology and Infallibility. He concludes what matters is not conclusions, but rather what lies behind them; this provides reconcilement for the first two issues, but not the later. For the author, a rules based approach to doctrine is best utilized in relation to behavioral requirements.

The final chapter of this book serves to place cultural-linguistic theory and a rules-based approach to doctrine within the larger framework by evaluating their implications. These views push for an intra-systemic (or intra-textual) approach to meaning wherein the religion gives meaning rather than describes meaning. Within this system, religious text are formative within the communities that adapt them. Religions and sacred texts hold the power to shape communities. This, the author concludes, is a necessary part of the wider society and culture. Lindbeck is essentially arguing for a relativistic view of religions while advocating religious communities resist relativism so they can teach the culture and language of religion. His ultimate conclusion is that the theories he has presented in his book are valuable, but in the end each religion must be true to its roots and message.

In evaluating Lindbeck's proposal, the first issue that must be considered is his approach. He is clear in pointing out that his theory is non-theological. As such, his primary purpose is not to provide a tool for Christians to evaluate their belief systems. Instead, it is his desire to offer a theory of religion that allows an observer to judge and understand a system of beliefs entirely on their own merit. Therefore, before any judgment can be made on conclusions, this method should be evaluated. Since the author is clearly writing from a Christian perspective, one could expect a theory that supports the claims of orthodox Christianity. This book does not set, nor achieve this goal. Lindbeck is much more concerned about unity than about orthodoxy. However, from a non-theistic approach to understanding religion, the approach the author employs is exceedingly useful and relevant.

The primary advantage of Lindbeck's approach to religion lies in its ability to study and evaluate religions intra-systemically without having to evaluate ontological correctness. In effect, each religion can stand alone and be evaluated on it own merits. This is extremely helpful when viewing faith systems objectively, especially from an anthropological viewpoint. In addition to providing a non-judgmental way to evaluate religions, the cultural-linguistic articulated in this book provides fresh insight and perspective on the role religion plays in communal formation and spiritual development. It is certainly important to ask questions about how experiences can be explained through religion, but just as important is an understanding of how religions shapes and informs those experiences. This framework allows individuals to better appreciate the contributions and unique features of a religion. Additionally, the rules based approach to doctrine allows for the dynamicity apparent in most religions. Rather than seek to reconcile transitions, Lindbeck's approach embraces these.

The Nature of Doctrine is not without its limits and shortcomings. In emphasizing ecumenical and interfaith unity, the book has lost some of its value for evaluating and informing traditional, orthodox theologies. For instance, the universalism he argues for is outside the scope of orthodoxy for many evangelical traditions. It could be argued that Lindbeck misses the goal of being religiously useful. This is perhaps most apparent in the concluding chapter; here the author admits his framework explains the assimilation process, but does little to convince those who "share in the intellectual high cultural" (124). In effect, he is concluding cultural-linguistic theory and rules theory of doctrine can explain religions, but may not bolster them. A final shortcoming of the books is one readily admitted to by the author. At the time of it's writing the approach presented was largely untested and thus relied heavily on theory. It is almost as if Lindbeck was throwing out an idea for others to try. Considering the brevity of the book, it seems a more thorough treatment would have possible and useful.

The contributions of Lindbeck cannot be overlooked and should be applauded. The ideas outlined in the pages of this book continue to reverberate 24 years later. The lens the author provides his readers is innovative and practical; however, its practicality is primarily found in external evaluations of religion. One could assume that Lindbeck expected his theories to have been accepted or rejected by this point in history. However, the tension still remains between modern (especially evangelical) thinkers and postmoderns (or postliberals as Lindbeck calls them). Where ever a person falls on that continuum, they would be well served to join the discussion spurred by this book. We may not agree, but hopefully we can better understand each other.
8 di 10 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
4.0 su 5 stelle Coined the term 'Postliberalism'... 19 maggio 2002
Di W. Owens - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato:Copertina flessibile|Acquisto verificato Amazon
This work is a small classic in the `postliberal' movement which originated under the influence of Lindbeck and Hans Frei. Other theologians who bear some of the same characteristics include Placher, Hunsinger, Thiemann, Tanner, Kelsey, and Hauerwas. Postliberals emphasize the specificity of Christianity (and all religions) and a Christological and intratextual method of theology that finds the meaning of Christian language within Scripture. This meaning is given in the praxis of the church and the task of the systematic theologian is to give a normative self-description of the community as well as to discern deficiencies and distortions in communal practices. New proposals are primarily pragmatic in that they aim to `build up the body of believers.' Accusations of relativism and fideism naturally follow the postliberal denial of a universal ground of knowledge and their stress on internal description over external description (usually philosophy). However, Lindbeck believes the cultural/linguistic model will generate more conversation with other disciplines than the usual models (cognitive and experiential) since many historians, sociologists, anthropologists, and philosophers also employ approaches that utilize a cultural and/or linguistic scheme. Postliberal theology is open to rational testing, but reasonableness is assessed by its ability to provide an intelligible interpretation, in its own terms, of the relevant practical and cognitive data of Christian believers. Ad hoc apologetics is preferred over systematic.
The main argument of this book is twofold: religion (Christianity included) as a cultural/linguistic community and a regulative view of doctrines. The religion provides a frame of interpretation that shapes life, thought, and actions of the believer. Basic patterns of the religion are interiorized through worship, proclamation, and instruction. Doctrines serve as rules that regulate the communities' discourse, attitudes, and practices. Lindbeck's work reflects aspects of Wittgenstein, Geertz, and Peter Berger among others. One word of warning: this book is meant to be provocative and not definitive. If you are not already sympathetic to the cultural/linguistic approach (or unsympathetic to the cognitivist or experiential approaches) you will probably not be convinced. The Nature of Doctrine initiated an ongoing conversation and simply seeks to establish the viability of a cultural/linguistic framework and rule theory of doctrine for ecumenical, interreligious, and non-religious discussions.
What follows are some points in the book that I found interesting.
A religion is described as one large proposition. Does it as a whole (discursive and nondiscursive symbols, practices, action, etc.) correspond to God's will (for Christians)?
The basis for interreligious dialogue is that other religions may contain potential actualities and realities explored that may not fall within the scope of Christianity but nevertheless be God-willed, God-approved aspects of the coming kingdom.
Just as Cyprian said there is no salvation outside the church, Lindbeck states that there is no damnation outside the church either. One must know the language of faith before one can ultimately reject it. He also speculates of a post-mortem encounter with Jesus.

Theological assertions are true only in context i.e. `when speaking religiously.' He gives the example of Luther who says `I can only say "Christ is Lord" when I make him my Lord.' Ontological truth happens in the context of existential participation in proclamation, praise, and prayer not in the abstract.
Lindbeck advocates a modest cognivitism he finds in Aquinas. `God is good' is true but we do not know how it is true.
The scriptural world "absorbs" the universe. Scripture gives the world meaning rather than vice-versa. He states that Aquinas, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and even Schleiermacher used this method to varying degrees.
A couple aspects I would like to see given more rigorous treatment are the relation of intrasystematic to ontological truth and a theological treatment of the church as a cultural/linguistic community. If anyone knows if this has been done please contact me. An aside: Unlike other reviewers I am not a masters student in theology only an educated layperson but I had little difficulty in comprehending the vocabulary employed in the book. If you are used to reading theology you will not have much trouble with Lindbeck's book. Also, one wonders that if you admittedly had trouble understanding the concepts in a text if you are then able to adequately critique that same text. Anyway, if you are interested enough to come here and read reviews you are interested enough to read the book. Enjoy. PIC
10 di 13 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle Post-Liberalism at its clearest 12 novembre 2002
Di Tron Honto - Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato:Copertina flessibile
This book is essential for a number of reasons. 1. It is perhaps the most lucid presentation of post-liberal theology and one could also say the radical orthodoxy school of cambridge. 2. It's short. Many of the ideas here are difficult, but they are argued well while giving a sympathetic hearing to skeptical outsiders. This is a work that deserves to be read multiple time until one gets a handle on the exact line of argument. As such, it is a groundbreaking, methodological work. It's indispensible for anyone interested in doing any kind of theological dialogue, whether inter-faith or intra-faith. I write this as a Christian student of Islamic studies who found the cultural-linguistic model of religion and religious discourse endorsed here by Lindbeck illuminating for my own studies of Islam and investigation of inter-faith questions.

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