Thursday, 26 February 2015

Types of Christian theology: a drafted typology

My introduction to theology class this semester will end with a lecture on “types of Christian theology.” I’ve been digging around among the available typologies (e.g. Hans Frei, Justo González), but haven’t felt that they’re sufficiently useful for an undergraduate introduction. So I’m trying to come up with a way of categorising several different theological types. Here’s my attempt so far, with a classic and modern example of each type. Any ideas for improvement? Or anyone know of a good alternative typology? (What I really need is a theologygrams chart!)

Types of Christian theology

With three main audiences: theology addressed to the believer (B), theology addressed to the church (C), and theology addressed to the world (W).

  • (B) Catechetical exposition of the faith (e.g. Origen, First Principles; Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics)
  • (C) Polemical exposition of the faith (e.g. Irenaeus, Against Heresies; Elizabeth Johnson, She Who Is)
  • (W) Apologetic exposition of the faith (e.g. Origen, Contra Celsum; John Milbank, Theology and Social Theory)
  • (B) Template of a converted life (e.g. Clement of Alexandria, The Educator; Sarah Coakley, God, Sexuality and the Self)
  • (C) Template of a converted community (e.g. Calvin, Institutes; Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together)
  • (W) Template of a converted society (e.g. Augustine, City of God; Reinhold Niebuhr, Nature and Destiny of Man)
  • (W) Protest against society (e.g. Tertullian, On Spectacles; Gustavo Gutiérrez, Theology of Liberation)
  • (C) Protest against the church (e.g. Luther, On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church; Kierkegaard, Attack upon Christendom)
  • (B) Protest against the self (e.g. Pascal, Pensées; Simone Weil, Waiting for God)


Ben Myers said...

Brandon Frick just tweeted a great suggestion for these three categories:
1. How it is
2. How it should be
3. How it shouldn't be

Ben Myers said...

And I like Brandon's headings so much that I've added them to the post.

Richard L. Floyd said...

I've always found George Lindbeck's “The Nature of Doctrine” useful in sorting out different approaches to theology.

Kim Fabricius said...

So I guess what we've got here is the Myers-Frick theometric type indicator, aka the MFTTI.

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