Postmodern Challenges to a Rising Evangelicalism
Orville Jenkins Articles Menu
Orville Jenkins Home
Orville Jenkins Book Reviews Menu


Postmodern Challenges to a Rising Evangelicalism
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
A review of the book by Peter Toon
The End of Liberal Theology:  Contemporary Challenges to Evangelical Orthodoxy (Wheaton, Illinois:  Crossway Books, 1995. 256p.)

See all my reviews on
See menu of all book reviews on this site

Toon provides a historical summary outlining cultural, historical and intellectual streams leading to and running in the theological trends that came to be called Liberalism, especially reflected in the German literary and form criticism schools.

Toon's analysis is fairly technical, though well-presented in understandable terms. He shows how perspectives that led to and guided Liberalism suffered in the mid-20th century, due to the great world upsets, especially WWII.

Along with secularization, cultural forces that contributed to the decreasing influence of Liberalism were a retreat into simpler forms of Christian faith (tiring of the growing academic and clerical styles, whether liberal or conservative, both arising out of the classical concept of theological education and development).

This was a rejection of Classicism, in favor of a more populist approach to personal religion, accompanied by a growing disenchantment with traditional denominational doctrines and institutions, accelerating as the century progressed. This is one factor accounting for the decreasing population of the "mainline" churches in America, maybe Europe also, though Europe has other cultural factors in action.

Another force was the conscious attempts to renew a more literal view of biblical revelation. This also found support in growing ranks of scholars. The more radical forms, like KJV only and other populist views are a part of the reaction against classicism of whatever stripe, and formalism has suffered even in conservative churches.

Toon concludes with a focus on the growing unity in perspective in the missions movement and world ecumenical perspectives and cooperation among evangelical and conservatives, which has never occurred before, complementing the decreasing influence of the World Council of Churches.

I am broadly summarizing Toon's scenario, and likely injecting my own concepts into my portrayal.

See related reviews and articles on this site:
[Review] Graduation to Reality — The Church Emerging
[Review] Liberal Protestantism:  History and Personality
[Review] Mysticism and Christian Unity
[review] Postmodernism — The Church's Challenge and Opportunity
[review] Progressive Foundations for Postmodern Christianity
[Review] Resources for Diversity
[Review] The Rich, Persistent Centre

See this book with my review on
See all my reviews on
See menu of all formal book reviews on this site
See my reading lists
Many other books have review notes with the reading list entry


First written and posted on 17 May 2006
Posted on Thoughts and Resources 11 September 2006
Last edited 10 November 2008

Copyright © 2006 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Other rights reserved.

Orville Jenkins Articles Menu
Orville Jenkins Home
Orville Jenkins Book Reviews Menu

filename: toonendofliberal.html