I was starting to write a question about the history of a certain theological definition, and when I went to add tags all I could find relating to history was Church-History. Granted they are related, it is not entirely accurate. Church history is concerned with history about the actual people and organizations in the church through time. Meanwhile:

Historical theologians are thus concerned with the historical development of theology. 1

I most definitely want history that focuses on the theological term and it's definition through time. People and groups from church history are necessarily involved, but the focus is not on them.

Should I just use church-history and hope I make it clear enough in my question? I don't think that is the best solution.

I've also noticed a few times that questions can get confused between biblical basis or historical theology. That it is unclear if the one asking is looking for the scriptural origins or the historical origins of a doctrine held by X denomination.

For example, According to Protestants, where does the idea of Jesus being "one substance with the father" come from?, the original OP asks for the "origin" of a belief, tags it just trinity and Protestantism, and later gives a self answer that summarizes its theological history. But before he self answered(I think?), it was edited with the biblical basis tag. The title is now edited to be a biblical basis question, based on the tag. But what if the OP had intended it to include historical theology (which can include both scriptural and historical reasoning)?

Another example here, Q: When and why did the modern literal 6-Day creation theory become popular?, is clearly looking not just for history but for theological history.

Adding a [Historical-Theology] tag, combined with the existing church history and biblical basis tags, would cover more possibilities more precisely. I understand it may not get used a lot, but I for one would subscribe to it.

More Examples

Origin questions that are not focused on "Who was the first" but are focused "when" or "what"

When was the word "trinity" first applied to God in Christianity?

When in the development of trinitarian doctrine was the word "persons" first applied to God?

When did the idea start that divine revelation is "finished"?

What is the origin of the interpretation of the Song of Solomon as a picture for Christ and the Church?

Abstract questions that don't fit Origins, era (since that may be unknown) or even church history:

Where is Heaven?

Earliest case of pointing to heaven as consolation and hope to loved ones

How old is the idea of premillenial rapture?

Tracking changes or shifts in theology over time:

Why did the Catholic Church change so radically after Vatican II in regards to the status of Jews?

Has there been a shift in Christian metaphysics from a unitary cosmos to a binary one?

Do Pope Francis' recent comments on atheism represent a change in doctrine?

Comparative Theology (from different historical periods or eras)

How did Thomas Aquinas view grace as opposed to the church fathers?

In what manner did Christian baptism differ from ritual washing as part of Jewish Teshuva (repentance.)

  • 2
    Tags used for this type of thing are origin and terminology. The history tag may be useful as well. Jul 7, 2016 at 18:37
  • @Nathaniel didn't think of origin. Though I do think I searched for terminology and definitions and didn't find anything. Also, that would address one of my examples but wouldn't help in the case of my question where I was tracing the definition of the term, not the term itself.
    – Joshua
    Jul 7, 2016 at 18:40
  • Right; terminology would only be useful for the origin or changes in use of particular words. This question, to me, could easily have "terminology" added to it. For histories of ideas we usually make do with origin and one or more of the history tags. Jul 7, 2016 at 18:45
  • @Nathaniel Just not sure why we need 2-3 tags to combine into one meaning when there's a well established and defined term for this precise meaning already. I'm not going to subscribe to origin and terminology and history. Who knows what I'll get. I will subscribe to historical theology, because I know what I'm getting is right in my area of interest. But that gets into the purpose of tags in the first place. To aid definition or discovery?
    – Joshua
    Jul 7, 2016 at 18:54
  • 1
    Sure, that's fair. I don't mean to suggest that the status quo is better than your proposal; I just haven't thought it through yet. For example, I at least would need to rethink how I apply the church-history tag. The boundary between the two might be fuzzy, but of course we have lots of fuzzy tag boundaries here. Jul 7, 2016 at 19:01
  • What's the exact question you're wanting to ask?
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Jul 7, 2016 at 23:51
  • 1
    @curiousdannii I'm asking how I should tag a Historical Theology question without a Historical Theology tag and whether adding a Historical Theology tag is perhaps warranted. Really its feature-request (see tag) but I'm giving several examples where it would be warranted. And I'm providing those who do not think we should add a tag with the opportunity to provide an alternate solution.
    – Joshua
    Jul 8, 2016 at 3:15
  • @Joshua I'm not sure it would be a useful tag. Tagging with the era and topic would probably be more useful IMO. But without concrete examples there's little point raising hypotheticals.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Jul 8, 2016 at 5:06
  • @curiousdannii Challenge accepted. For the question I was going to ask, era wouldn't help since I don't know when the change I'm asking about happened.
    – Joshua
    Jul 8, 2016 at 11:18
  • Thanks for these examples. I'm still not convinced that they should all share a tag though... But let's see what everyone else thinks.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Jul 8, 2016 at 11:31
  • This and this would not be included here, because they belong to an era and don't ask about development, correct? Jul 8, 2016 at 14:57
  • @Nathaniel Yes, I would agree. The William Carey one is actually closer than I thought at first glance but it focuses so much on the people and their arguments and doesn't attempt to put it into any historic perspective (had similar theologically based arguments been made against missionaries prior to William Carey?) The attitude toward authority question would need to track how it changed or compared to another case(in time or place).
    – Joshua
    Jul 11, 2016 at 22:06
  • @Nathaniel I think this would also be historical theology. It mentions the groups but the focus is on the theological disagreement.christianity.stackexchange.com/q/50711/24841
    – Joshua
    Jul 14, 2016 at 21:48


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