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I'm proposing a new tag 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 . 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:

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.

Potential usage

  1. When scoped to a denomination (like my sample question) it's to talk about presuppositions that a particular denomination brings to their systematic theologies.

  2. 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").

  3. 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.

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  • Maybe "theological-process"? – curiousdannii Jun 25 at 23:46
  • Using different methods is still compatible with the systematic-theology tag. – Ken Graham Jun 27 at 13:27
  • @KenGraham I hope my edit explains better how "theological method" is one level prior to writing a systematic theology. Usually the introductory chapters of systematic theology disclose the choices that the theologian made in constructing the systematic theology. In the Summa this is covered under ST I, q. 1. – GratefulDisciple Jun 27 at 14:06
  • @curiousdannii I added a lot more details of what I'm looking for. "theological-process" can work too, but may be less common and maybe confused with "process theology". "method" captures the concern better than "process" because a systematic theologian needs to be methodical. "process" implies a work in progress, but "method" is what's driving the selection from 8 specializations. Maybe "theological-method" is best convention-wise than "method-in-theology". – GratefulDisciple Jun 27 at 14:25
  • Some more example questions could help. – curiousdannii Jun 27 at 14:33
  • @curiousdannii I will add some example questions in the next day or so – GratefulDisciple Jun 27 at 14:36
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I'd favor over [tag:verb:noun]. It's pretty important for the tags to match what people are thinking at the time that they ask the question.

Does this expand the scope of the site, negate the need for a denominational bias or what?

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  • Does "theological-method" suit the convention? Since this is a title of a book targeted for "beginners" (see Paul Allen's reference above), I think it justifies a commonly accepted label. About scope of the site & denominational bias, please see my 2nd edit to the question. – GratefulDisciple Jun 27 at 14:13
  • yes, that's what I'd go with. Thanks for the edit, I like this idea a lot if it helps you ask good questions. But if there's a distinguo between theological-method and systematic-theology I think it's too subtle for me to understand. – Peter Turner Jun 29 at 14:05
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The Tag for method in theology?

I believe that the phrase you may be looking for is systematic theology.

Systematic theology is a discipline of Christian theology that formulates an orderly, rational, and coherent account of the doctrines of the Christian faith. It addresses issues such as what the Bible teaches about certain topics or what is true about God and his universe. It also builds on biblical disciplines, church history, as well as biblical and historical theology. Systematic theology shares its systematic tasks with other disciplines such as constructive theology, dogmatics, ethics, apologetics, and philosophy of religion.

Method

With a methodological tradition that differs somewhat from biblical theology, systematic theology draws on the core sacred texts of Christianity, while simultaneously investigating the development of Christian doctrine over the course of history, particularly through philosophy, ethics, social sciences, and even natural sciences. Using biblical texts, it attempts to compare and relate all of scripture which led to the creation of a systematized statement on what the whole Bible says about particular issues.

Within Christianity, different traditions (both intellectual and ecclesial) approach systematic theology in different ways impacting a) the method employed to develop the system, b) the understanding of theology's task, c) the doctrines included in the system, and d) the order those doctrines appear. Even with such diversity, it is generally the case that works that one can describe as systematic theologies to begin with revelation and conclude with eschatology.

Since it is focused on truth, systematic theology is also framed to interact with and address the contemporary world. There are numerous authors who explored this area such as the case of Charles Gore, John Walvoord, Lindsay Dewar, and Charles Moule, among others. The framework developed by these theologians involved a review of postbiblical history of a doctrine after first treating the biblical materials. This process concludes with applications to contemporary issues.

Categories

Since it is a systemic approach, systematic theology organizes truth under different headings and there are ten basic areas (or categories), although the exact list may vary slightly. These are:

  • Theology proper – The study of the character of God

  • Angelology – The study of angels

  • Biblical theology – The study of the Bible

  • Christology – The study of Christ

  • Ecclesiology – The study of the church

  • Eschatology – The study of the end times

  • Hamartiology – The study of sin

  • Pneumatology – The study of the Holy Spirit

  • Soteriology – The study of salvation

  • Theological anthropology – The study of the nature of humanity.

Perhaps would fit the circumstances best.

I have a hard time seeing how much difference a tag would improve an improvement over the tag.

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  • 1
    Please see my edit to the question to highlight the difference to systematic theology. I know it's not common, so in the tag definition, I'll add when to use systematic-theology instead. This tag is for discussing factors presupposed by a systematic theology. I can see that the choice of canon to use (for example) or the role of philosophy (another example) are not in any of the categories you mentioned in the answer. – GratefulDisciple Jun 27 at 14:09

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