George Lindbeck

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George Arthur Lindbeck (born March 10, 1923) is an American Lutheran theologian. He is best known as an ecumenicist and as one of the fathers of postliberal theology.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Lindbeck was born in 1923 in Luoyang, China, the son of American Lutheran missionaries. Raised in that country and in Korea for the first seventeen years of his life,[2] he was often sickly as a child and found himself often isolated from the world around himself.[3]

He attended Gustavus Adolphus College, graduating with a BA in 1943. He went on to do graduate work at Yale University, receiving his BD in 1946. After his undergraduate work he spent a year at the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies with Étienne Gilson in Toronto then two years at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Études with Paul Vignaux in Paris. He earned his PhD from Yale in 1955 concentrating on medieval studies, delivering a dissertation on Franciscan theologian John Duns Scotus.[2]


Lindbeck first gained attention as a medievalist and as a participant in ecumenical discussions in academia and the church. He was a "delegate observer" to the Second Vatican Council and since that time he has been an important part of ecumenical dialogue, especially between Lutherans and Roman Catholics.[3] From 1968 to 1987 he was a member of the Joint Commission between the Vatican and Lutheran World Federation.[2] In 1994, Lindbeck spoke at length about his memories of Vatican II with George Weigel, and a transcript of his interview with Weigel was published in the December 1994 edition of First Things.

His best-known work is The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age, published in 1984. It was widely influential and is one of the key works in the formation and founding of postliberal theology.

He was appointed to the Yale Divinity School faculty in 1952 before his studies were finished, and remained there until his retirement in 1993. His book The Church in a Postliberal Age was published in 2002.


  1. ^ Lindbeck, George A. (1972). Infallibility. Marquette University Press. ISBN 0874625041. 
  2. ^ a b c Eckerstorfer, Bernhard A. (Fall 2004). "The one church in the postmodern world: reflections on the life and thought of George Lindbeck". Pro Ecclesia: 399–423. ISSN 1063-8512. 
  3. ^ a b Lindbeck, George A. (Interviewee) (November 28, 2006). "Performing the faith: an interview with George Lindbeck". Christian Century: 28–35. ISSN 0009-5281.