Postliberal theology

Postliberal theology, or postliberalism is a movement in contemporary theology that "rejects both the Enlightenment appeal to a 'universal rationality' and the liberal assumption of an immediate religious experience common to all humanity." ^ [1]^

The movement initially began in the 1980's with its association to Yale Divinity School. Theologians such as Hans Frei, Paul Holmer, David Kelsey, and George Lindbeck were influential and were significantly influenced by theologians such as Karl Barth, Clifford Geertz, and Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Postliberalism uses a narrative approach to theology, such as developed by Hans Frei, and argues that "all thought and experience is historically and socially mediated... Postliberalism is thus anti-foundational (in that it rejects the notion of a universal foundation of knowledge), communitarian (in that it appeals to the values, experiences, and language of a community, rather than prioritizing the individual), and historicist (in that it insists upon the importance of tradition and their associated historical communities in the shaping of experience and thought." ^ [2]^


  • Timothy R. Phillips and Dennis L. Okholm, eds. The Nature of Confession: Evangelicals and Postliberals in Discussion. InterVarsity Press, 1996.
  • Paul DeHart, The Trial of the Witnesses: The Rise and Decline of Postliberal Theology. Blackwell, 2006.


  1. ? McGrath, Introduction to Christian Theology, p. 119
  2. ? McGrath, p. 119

See also