Today, theology finds itself facing an identify crisis. Who are theologians, and what are they doing? Are they historians with a special focus on Christian Church history? Are they analytical philosophers of religion? Or are they simply linguists with a special focus on Greek and Hebrew languages? Theology is in an identity crisis and common sense tells us that having a crisis makes one vulnerable. In the academy, theology is thus increasingly sidelined and marginalized. This is reflected by the global phenomenon where the theological faculty is simply swallowed by the – perhaps more pluralist – religious studies department… (Michael Brauitgam)
In your opinion, what is a theologian? And where does theology fit in to the academy? Does it? Should it?
3 thoughts on “Theology Under Crisis”
As someone who does theology, I find that Church History, comparative religion, or psychology (think Fuller/therapeutic religion) are the most lucrative and food motivates. Most my Mdiv teachers came from the comparative side. Personally, I think it matters the theology you do. Biblical is linguistics and archeology, systematics (almost dead) sides with philosophy and church history, practical goes with comparative (maybe cause it tends towards synchrony the most), and patristic etc. are their own little worlds. But what’s really gone is the single discipline types for major fields in it, which reflects the interdisciplinary bend of modern academia.
Thanks for the comment. By the way, where did do your Mdiv? I agree with you that the single discipline type way of doing theology is starting to fall apart – while the rest of academia (in my opinion) still represents extreme specialization (with little breadth of knowledge), theology is moving in the direction of interdisciplinary studies. In the area of theology, you can see this in the recent growth in theological interpretation of scripture and the resourcement movement in systematic theology.
Im finishing up at fuller (which was sometimes interesting as a non evangelical and moderate mainliner). Just a few electives I put off…
In my understanding resourcement/nueville were Catholic movements against scholasticism… I’m not sure it can apply to protestant scholars who had neo-orthodoxy or pulling back from historical/litteral/etc. emphasis.
But that points something out:
It’s a bit tricky to really say anyone but very conservatives wasn’t somewhat interdisciplinary now that I think of it. It depends on the school really. Union/Tillich types read very different then McArthur types and both have different projectories.
Maybe it’s better to say hyper-contextualizing is the new game. Asian-, African-, psychological- and other hyphenated studies ruled the 90s to now across the board. The western classical? or caucasin-theology? hasn’t really moved much since the 70s, maybe if just because proffesors live a lot longer nowadays. I think the wider culture hasn’t absorbed post modernism enough to move from the philosophical paradigms yet. The discipline still genuinely thinks like the 60s.
When that shifts the game well probably revert to neo-medieval or classic humanism because post modernism tends towards a backwards trend that likes ontologies, plato, etc. given it’s epistemology. That’s probably why humanist Calvin and mystic spirituality are rising.
It’s all publish or perish at some point. So who knows. But I think I’d put money on the view that inerrancy (1890s) is too modern as is classical liberal theology (1750-1960) to think either will come out on top.
Its like I don’t think a historical Jesus quest would do well now.