‘Postliberal’ Theologian George Lindbeck Passes Away

A writer known as one of the fathers of postliberal theology passed away in early January. Widely influential theologian George Lindbeck died on 8 January 2018, aged 94.

Among other causes, Lindbeck was committed to church unity and ecumenical dialogue, particularly between Lutherans and Roman Catholics. He was a “delegate observer” to the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. He also worked on the Joint Commission between the Vatican and Lutheran World Federation from 1968 to 1987.

Lindbeck was longtime close friends with fellow theologians Stanley Hauerwas and David Burrell, appearing with them at public forums on topics such as the Reformation. Speaking about his long career at one such event in January 2007, Lindbeck said, “One of the great advantages of getting to live for a long time is that one learns to distrust completely any predictions of the future.”

Lindbeck’s son Kris announced his father’s passing on his Twitter page.

“My father passed away yesterday afternoon, slipping so quietly from sleep to death that I, preparing for the semester on my laptop, did not realise it,” he wrote. “[T]he hospice nurse needed to check with her stethoscope. As good as death can be.”

“I wish for every person who reads this that their loved ones, and they when it is time, will fall into death peacefully in old age, with good nursing care and loved ones by them. This is the best exit we can hope for, and denied to so many by circumstance, or worse, by human sin.”

The author of several books on theology, Lindbeck is perhaps best known for his 1984 work The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age. Lindbeck earned a PhD from Yale University in 1955. He was appointed to the Yale faculty in 1952, before his studies were completed, and remained there until his 1993 retirement.

Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor




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