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1-2010 / Studie a eseje / Jan Horský

God or Evolution?

Several Notes on Historism in the Ideas of Early Twentieth Century Evangelical Thinkers

Jan Horský

Jan Horský (*1963) teaches at the Faculty of Humanities of the Charles University in Prague , honza.horsky@seznam. cz       Other contributions by the same author

This study is based on a comparative analysis of certain features in the thinking of two Protestant liberal theologians, the Czech divinity scholar, historian of religion and subsequent proponent of comparative religious studies František Žilka and the classic German writer on the sociology of religion Ernst Troeltsch. Here the author focuses primarily on their conception of historical development in relation to religious values. While Troeltsch recognizes the possible influence of social and economic conditions on religion, Žilka on the other hand understands religion to be a factor in the creation of social structures. In contrast to Troeltsch, however, Žilka is more prone to recognize the influence of nationalities on the various forms of (Christian) religion. Both concur in seeing elements within Protestantism which contribute to the democratic development of society. Both authors also agree that the validity of religious values themselves cannot be decided by historical or sociological methods. Both wish to tone down the methods used in 19th century historism by acknowledging the autonomy of theological methods.

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