liberalism, theological


liberalism, theological

School of religious thought characterized by concern with inner motivation as opposed to external controls. It was set in motion in the 17th century by René Descartes, who expressed faith in human reason, and it was influenced by such philosophers as Benedict de Spinoza, G. W. Leibniz, and John Locke. Its second stage, which coincided with the Romantic movement of the late 18th and 19th century, was marked by an appreciation of individual creativity, expressed in the writings of philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Immanuel Kant as well as of the theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher. The third stage, from the mid-19th century through the 1920s, emphasized the idea of progress. Stimulated by the Industrial Revolution and by Charles Darwin's Origin of Species (1859), thinkers such as T. H. Huxley and Herbert Spencer in England and William James and John Dewey in the U.S. focused on the psychological study of religious experience, the sociological study of religious institutions, and philosophical inquiry into religious values.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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