The Hartford Heresies and the Chicago Declaration | Sojourners

The Hartford Heresies and the Chicago Declaration

By this time, the Hartford Affirmations -- or Heresies, depending on how you read them -- will have been viewed with alarm or thanksgiving by most theologians in the country. Some will see them lamentably backsliding from social activism. Others will see them as a desperately needed dispelling of theological smog. As one of the signers, I see them in the latter way.

Readers of Post American may be interested in the background of the Hartford document. It was born in the heart of sociologist Peter Berger and preacher-journalist Richard Neuhaus. So they originated with non-professional, but very intelligent, theologians. Berger, I think, was the catalyst. As anyone who has read Berger knows, he has long had a distaste for theologies that reduce God to a stream of historical process, or power of being, or personal depths. In short, Berger was agitated about divine transcendence and its loss to theology, and hence to the church. So he and his friend Neuhaus invited a group of people, theologian and philosopher types mainly, to get together for a weekend to see if they could hammer out some theological affirmations that would reassert to the priority of God for the life and thought of the Christian community. Berger and Neuhaus drew up a provisional list of statements which the group then worked over, revised, and finally signed and gave to the press.

The form of the statement was purposely set in an antithesis-thesis style. We wanted to point, briefly and pointedly, to some contemporary theological notions that have become slogans among certain groups, things that in our judgment were simply wrong and harmful. But we wanted, as well, to counter the denials with affirmations that, while admitting some validity to the intent of the heresies, contradicted them by affirming the very real existence and authority of a transcendent God.

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $3.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!
for more info