I'm proposing a new tag method-in-theology to have this definition:
The study of how a theology is constructed by combining exegesis, biblical theology, historical theology, systematic theology, and practical theology. It also discusses how reason, philosophy, and science integrate into theology. Use this tag to ask HOW those elements contribute to the making of a particular theology, rather than the contents of the theology itself. Different denominations from different periods will use different methods.
More details from this essay.
Sample question here.
Is the tag name OK? Another name is theological-method. Did I miss existing tags? Is the definition clear? Feedback is welcome!
Full details of "theological method"
But the key idea for "method in theology" came from Jesuit Bernard Lonergan's book Method in Theology which takes a one step BACK from systematic theology building to be more aware of all the factors that one consciously or unconcsiouly bring in constructing systematic theology. This book summary is HIGHLY recommended reading: concise and communicates the importance of being aware of "method" in doing theology. There's even a proposal for an International Institute for Method in Theology !
The 8 "functional specializations" proposed by Lonergan then become useful placeholders for 8 different areas of presuppositions that a theologian needs to be aware, and different configurations of the answers to those areas will "brand" a certain theology as modern, medieval, Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Biblical, Sola-Scriptura based, non-Trinitarian, etc.
Two other works can illustrate what "method in theology" (or theological method) is about:
- Avery Dulles's book Craft of Theology: From Symbol to System
- Paul Allen's book Theological Method: A Guide for the Perplexed
I adopted the definition from here to be more friendly for Protestants and also because Lonergan's names for the areas are rather technical and not much used. Lonergan's book summary I linked above is the best overview of what this tag is about. Paul Allen's book very consciously uses Lonergan's categories to make explicit the presuppositions that major Christian theologians over the past 2,000 years brought into their systems, starting from St. Paul, early church fathers (represented by Iraneous, Origen, and Athanasius), St. Augustine, medieval (represented by Pseudo-Dionysius, Anselm, and Aquinas), Sola Scriptura (Martin Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin), Early modern (Schleiermacher, John Henry Newman, Albrecht Ritschl, Adolf von Harnack), Modern (Bultmann, Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Karl Rahner, Edward Schillebeeckx).
Justification of belonging to C.SE
Responding to Peter Turner's question:
Does this expand the scope of the site, negate the need for a denominational bias or what?
As you can see from the description above, this tag is "meta-denominational" and is the discussion that actually highlights the denominational bias. The discussion has its own objectivity. The tag belongs to this site because it is another angle of studying a denomination's theology.
When scoped to a denomination (like my sample question) it's to talk about presuppositions that a particular denomination brings to their systematic theologies.
If it is not scoped to a denomination this tag is for discussing the systematic theology construction activitiy itself (like Avery Dulles's describing how we go from "symbol" to "system").
It can also discuss the interface between theology and history, theology and philosophy, theology and mythology, theology and literary criticism, all of which are prominent theological concerns in the 20th century until now.