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What is going on in "state of the art" theology?

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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 11:01 AM
Original message
What is going on in "state of the art" theology?
Edited on Mon Mar-05-07 11:08 AM by BurtWorm
What are divinity school students reading these days? Who are the must reads in contemporary theology?

PS: Please! Please! One at a time!

;)
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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 11:42 AM
Response to Original message
1. State-of-the-art theology? Isn't that an oxymoron? n/t
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 11:42 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Apparently so.
;-)
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cyborg_jim Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 11:43 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. If it is then all theology reduces to - "some guy said it a real long time ago"
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Rabrrrrrr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 01:19 PM
Response to Reply #1
12. Only to the ridiculously ignorant.
:eyes:
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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 02:00 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. Rather than fling insults, perhaps you could explain?
If you think the ridiculously ignorant are capable of understanding anything you might have to say, that is.
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Rabrrrrrr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 02:27 PM
Response to Reply #13
18. You hurled the first insult when you called it an oxymoron.
Doesn't leave much room for discussion after that.

If you care to change your mind, you can read posts by others on a lot of new theology being done. If you don't care to change your mind, there's no point in me trying.
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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 02:31 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. I made no assertion, I merely asked a question.
You chose to see an insult when none was intended.
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Rabrrrrrr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 02:45 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. Oh, okay. So a question like "Professonial sports? Isn't that just for angry wife-beating racists?"
Edited on Mon Mar-05-07 02:47 PM by Rabrrrrrr
is just an innocent question meant to further dialogue. Sure.

:eyes:

If no offense was intended, then you could clearly have chosen a better way to phrase your question than in such an openly leading way.

But, now that we know the problem was merely one of a poorly worded initial question, I will answer that question and attempt to avoid any snark.

Yes, there is a lot of "state of the art" theology being done, not just in Christianity, but within Judaism, Buddhism (though perhaps 'theology' isn't quite the right word for that one), and other religions. One does not find much in the fundamentalist branches of religions, since "state of the art" is generally precisely what they are attempting to defend against, but most living and breathing religions have state of the art theology going on, especially in the areas of liberation, women's role in the religions, adjusting of belief due to scientific findings, and changing cultural contexts (and so, for example, Korean Christian theology is different than Japanese Christian theology which is different than American Catholic theology). And not different in root beliefs about Christ and resurrection, but different in how the theology plays out in those contexts, esp. with regard to the relation to the culture. SO one gets in Japan a lot of the question, "How can we be faithful Christians in a society that basically non-religious and in which we (the Christians) are only 1% of the population?" Whereas in America, the question is "How can we remain faithful Christians when the majority of the population is Christian, and when so much of our culture is either Christian-based, or certainly overwhelmingly Christian-friendly?"

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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 03:21 PM
Response to Reply #21
23. Can you say "straw man"?
My question was more along the lines of "State-of-the-art bedrock. Isn't that an oxymoron?" You are not only quick to take offense, you can't even be bothered to take offense at what I am actually posting.
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Rabrrrrrr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 04:44 PM
Response to Reply #23
28. Now, I know you don't mean to imply that you think theology means "bedrock" -
Edited on Mon Mar-05-07 04:50 PM by Rabrrrrrr
but they are not the same. I think I see now where you are coming from - thinking that theology in a 2000 year old religion must be all done by now, and that nothing new can be born of it. Is that what you are saying? It sounds like it, or at least something close to it. Or perhaps you are mixing "doctrine" or "dogma" with "theology"? In some Christian traditions, and probably even some Jewish and Muslim and others, "doctrine" and "theology" might be pretty much equated, but for the most part, I would say that is more of a rarity than a reality. If I'm still misreading you, please let me know.

As I posted in the post you responded to, and as others here have, this is not true (except the fundamentalists would like to think it's true, but they also don't realize how new, in comparison with the age of Christianity, their theology is), as theology is ever evolving (even though the bedrock beliefs themselves do not change; for example, in Christianity, the basic foundation (or bedrock) of Jesus crucified, died, then resurrected remains a constant, while the theology might change a fair amount).

My branch of Christianity, as well as most that are not fundamentalist or Catholic (though there is some variance within Catholicism as well, the nuances are more than I care to post about here) - especially we from the Refrmed traditions - believe that each generation must make the faith their own: "Reformed and always reforming" is one of the mottoes (mottos?).

I suppose one can quibble about the exact meaning of "state of the art", as well, but at least since Luther and Calvin (esp. Calvinists), Christian theology has continued a mostly state-of-the-art reforming reality through the generations. Not always, and not always well, but at least trying to keep apace with yet more light to be found. And especially now that many of the originally missionary areas (Asia, Africa, third world countries) are training their own ministers and doing their own theology and not just living on the theology of the European/American missionaries.

It's actually quite an exciting time in the world of theology: liberation(though "Liberation" theology on its own is on the wane), culturally specific theology, new theology stemming from new science (Process Theology is, to me, one of the more exciting new theologies), gay and lesbian theology, ecological/environmental theology, even a air amount of new theology on worship and liturgy - lots of great stuff. It's an exciting time, as I said.
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cyborg_jim Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 03:27 PM
Response to Reply #21
24. Um, do you know what an oxymoron is?
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Rabrrrrrr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 04:35 PM
Response to Reply #24
27. Yes, of course I do.
Otherwise, why would I have taken offense?

I now understand that no offense was meant, and have said so to the initial questioner. I'm not sure why you feel the need to ask me if I know the definition of the word.

:shrug:
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Dorian Gray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 02:14 PM
Response to Reply #1
15. I've never heard
"state of the art" used as a descriptive for theology, but there is some current works that are interesting reading.

Honestly, I truly hope that we don't turn to an old crutch, snark, in this thread. I fully understand if the theological works don't interest the OP or anyone else, but there is a lot worthy of discussion. I truly TRULY hope that this topic doesn't become a flame war, and, instead, breeds discussion and discourse over theology in general. The purpose of, the validity of, the usefulness of, the meaning of.... All fascinating topics for discussion.

Of course, I've put some time into the discussion this afternoon. :)
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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 02:23 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. That was kind of what I was asking
"State of the art" implies something brand spanking new. But Christianity has been around for nearly 2000 years; I have trouble imagining anything "state of the art" with regards to discussions on the nature of God.

Yes, I am fully aware that theology changes, despite the best efforts of reactionaries. But changes major enough and clearly "new and improved" enough to merit a label of "state of the art"... I just don't see it working that way.
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 02:29 PM
Response to Reply #16
19. In the 15th century, Lutheranism was cutting edge
just as neo-Platonism, gnosticism, Marcionism, Arianism, Augustinianism, scholasticism, etc. had once been. Natural theology became all the rage in the 17th and 18th centuries. Existentialism in the 20th. So what's cooking now, I'm wondering?
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Dorian Gray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 03:42 PM
Response to Reply #19
26. Liberation is passe now...
There is some feminist theology abrewing, but I don't think that's making a huge stink in the world. It's a very good question, though. What age are we entering now?
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Dorian Gray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 02:59 PM
Response to Reply #16
22. No...
it really doesn't! :) And "accepted" theology (as opposed to "rogue" theology, as one might consider liberation theology) tends to be even more slow and lumbering. It's the nature of the beast, I suppose. :)

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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 02:26 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. I truly am interested in what theology has become up to this moment.
I appreciate your contributions.

:toast:

I am totally curious about what thinking of God has become in the post-Enlightenment, post-Darwinian era. Is it coherent? Is it meaningful outside of the small circle of theologians who read it? I'm curious.
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Dorian Gray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 03:38 PM
Response to Reply #17
25. I think it varies
What I might consider relevant isn't to most people. There are a lot of New Agey works that I suppose can be considered theological or philosophical, but I tend to consider them more self-help. Then there are the writings of the Dalai Lama, Judaic scholarship (very complex due to the many different schools of thought... from Lubovitch Hasidim to Reform), the various Islamic schools of thought, to Ancient Pagan thought. It's all out there, and I can no more than scratch the surface of any of them. There is so much out there that it's impossible to know what any of them can say. Hopefully Ayesha will add some thoughts about Sufiism to this topic. They're mysticism is often more closely related to Kaballah or Christian Mysticism than other sects of Islam, but I have no idea how correct that is. I know little about them, other than the few writings I read in my world philosophy class in college 17 years ago. I do know that some of the great Islamic poetry is said to have come from the Sufis.

When it comes to Pagan/New Ageism/Wicca, I don't know what would count as a theological work, as I think those religions are quite new and evolving as we speak. There are probably few central tenets to the religions (though Wicca does have a sort of formal structure that's developing.) Dianetics and other works by L Ron Hubbard would work for Scientology, though I don't know if there are any theological works coming out today. The few chapters that I read of Dianetics sounded more like dated/antiquated psychological babble than theological or philosophical work.

But, there are tons of works out there. For someone like Dawkins to address all of these things would be absolutely impossible. To refute religion, I suppose one would have to either focus on each idea individually, or making sweeping generalizations. I know that there have been some atheists in the forum in the past who have made the statement that we're all atheistic on some level, as even us theists reject the religions/Gods of others. You have only done so to one more "god" than the rest of us. :) So, I may dismiss New-Agey religions or Scientology as being hokey without actually reading the works that might explain them to me. And I have, to be honest.

I guess what makes some theists bristle about the "fairy tale" comments is that it makes us think that those who call it that think we are foolish. Quite honestly, I've grappled with some pretty big questions, and I deal with doubt every single day. I don't think that anybody here could ask questions that I haven't already thought of or battled with. It's ridicule that puts me off, as it would anybody. I totally get why someone would be an atheist. I also get why someone might be angry about the ill treatment they've received at the hands of "believers." Hell, I have friends who are Catholic in name only. They never go to church. I doubt that they spend any time thinking about the deeper theological issues. I doubt that they ever pray or anything. Yet, when one of our friends said she was an Athiest, one of these very "Catholic" friends gasped and asked, "How could you DO that?" It was enough to make ME roll my eyes at her. (The appalled friend, not the atheist friend.) So I realize that there are inherent prejudices out there.

I don't know how this message turned into a long stream of consciousness babble, but there you go! :) I'm going to leave it stand as is, just so you all know how random my thought processes are. Hah.
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nealmhughes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 11:45 AM
Response to Original message
4. Here is Boston College's reading list for comparative theology degree:
Edited on Mon Mar-05-07 11:46 AM by nealmhughes
http://www.bc.edu/schools/cas/theology/comparative/ctma...



Barnes, Michael, Theology and the Dialogue of Religions (2002)

Clooney, Francis. Theology after Vedanta: An Experiment in Comparative Theology (1993); Seeing through Texts: Doing Theology among the Srivaisnavas of South India (1996); Hindu God, Christian God: How Reason Helps Break Down the Boundaries Between Religions. (2001)

Cornille, Catherine, ed., Many Mansions? Multiple Religious Belonging and Christian Identity (2002)

D’Costa, Gavin, The Meeting of Religions and the Trinity (2000)

Dupuis, Jacques, Toward a Christian theology of Religious Pluralism (1997)

Flood, Gavin, The Ascetic Self. Subjectivity, Memory and Tradition (2004)

Griffiths, Paul J., Problems of Religious Diversity (2001)

Hefling, Charles, and Pope, Stephen, Sic et Non: Essays on Dominus Iesus (2002)

Heim, S. Mark, Salvations: Truth and Difference in Religions (1995); Depth of the Riches: a Trinitarian Theology of Religious Ends (2001)

Patton, Kimberly and Ray, Benjamin, ed. A Magic Still Dwells. Comparative Religion in the Postmodern Age. (2000)

Knitter, Paul, Introducing the Theology of Religions (2002)

Masuzawa, Tomoko, The Invention of World Religions (2005)

McCutcheon, Russel, ed., The Insider-Outsider Problem in the Study of Religion (1999)

Neville, Robert, ed., The Human Condition (2000); Ultimate Realities (State University of New York Press, 2000); Religious Truth (2000)

Smith, Jonathan Z., Relating Religion. Essays in the Study of Religion (2004)

Sharpe, Eric, Comparative Religion: A History (1975)

Ward, Keith. Religion and Revelation (1994); Religion and Creation (1996); Religion and Human Nature (1998); Religion and Community (2000)
top of page
Contact Section: Ruth Langer | Web Suggestions: Webmistress | BC Department of Theology
Updated: 04-Oct-2006
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Dorian Gray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 12:06 PM
Response to Reply #4
7. Hey!
I went to Boston College! Graduated in '93. :) (Though I did NOT get a theology degree! English it was for me!)

But, that's where I started reading Kreeft. He was a professor at BC.
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kwassa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 11:49 AM
Response to Original message
5. Depends greatly on the denomination, I would imagine.
Here is Virginia Theological Seminary, largest Anglican seminary in the world.

http://www.vts.edu/Default.asp?bhcp=1
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Dorian Gray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 12:05 PM
Response to Original message
6. I'm more familiar with Catholic theologians
but here's a short reading list:

Ivone Gebara: Longing for Running Water: Ecofeminism and Liberation

Peter Kreeft: Many books! His writing style is the simplest of most theologians that I read. If interested in basic Catholic theology, he's a good place to start, as he breaks everything down to a very simple idea.

Karl Rahner: Foundations of Christian Faith

Fr. Raymond Brown

Wolfgang Beinert: Handbook of Catholic Theology

Jacques Dupuis



There are many other's that I've read. Some of thse are more traditional, though Ivone Gebara is considered quite radical. And Brown, also, is quite liberal within the Catholic Church.

I don't know if you were interested in Catholic Theology, per se, but I thought that I'd pass on some names that I've read in the last few years. There are others, as well. I don't know if this is quite the "cutting edge" that you were looking for, but here it is. Good luck. :)

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Dorian Gray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 12:16 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Three more....
Edited on Mon Mar-05-07 12:22 PM by Dorian Gray
I was doing research, and these looked interesting:

Christian Sacraments in a Postmodern World: A Theology for the Third Millennium by Kenan B. Osborne

The Sacraments - The Word of God at the Mercy of the Body by Louis Marie Chauvet

Extravagant Affections: A Feminist Sacramental Theology by Susan A. Ross




I've read Chauvet in the past, but never this particular work. I just ordered it from Amazon, though! It's considered to be a post-modern position on Catholic theology. Interesting.

Ross writes through a Feminine perspective, and addresses the sacraments in such a way. It seems interesting, and I also ordered this book! :)

Kenan Osborne's book seems interesting. I didn't order it. I have a lot on my plate. But, it's also a postmodern look at the sacraments, so this might be in the "cutting edge" of theological discourse. Just thought that I'd put it out there. I know little about him.

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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 12:21 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. I'm interested in any contemporary theology.
Mainly because it was asserted in a review of Dawkins' The God Delusion I read last night that he didn't pay attention to serious theology, which led me to wonder what sorts of ideas are being discussed in contemporary theology circles, which naturally led me to wonder what theology students are studying these days.
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Dorian Gray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 12:34 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. I'm truly not that well versed in
most theological study. Just primarily Roman Catholic study. I have a friend who is teaching a World Religion class at Iona College, and I saw him last night. He said that he's teaching the introductory course based on a series of tapes provided from an Ivy League school, but I'm unsure offhand what they are. I don't see him that often, but if I do I will ask.

He's working on his doctoral thesis right now. GK Chesterton. His most famous work, Orthodoxy, is a well established text. He's not so much cutting edge, so I didn't mention him. He's a pre-contemporary of CS Lewis et al. I believe, like Lewis, he converted from the Anglican Church to Catholicism, and he's very famous for his Harrumphing disposition. Seriously.

There is a show on EWTN, I believe, that has an actor dressed up as a stodgy old harrumphing British man, speaking in the Chesterton platitudes. He is one of the pre-eminent 20th century RC scholars, though.

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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 12:58 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. What is the Church's view of liberation theology these days?
Is it accepted? (I'm just curious.)
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Dorian Gray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-05-07 02:01 PM
Response to Reply #11
14. John Paul II
Edited on Mon Mar-05-07 02:06 PM by Dorian Gray
pretty much rejected it. I have no idea what Benedict's POV is, though I assume that it's similar to JPII's. Ratzinger's theological opinions (he has much theological discourse out there to read, as well! Very conservative, but also very academic) were integral to Vatican decision making. I believe that the Holy See roundly dismissed Liberation Theology in the 1980s. I believe the primary concern was the idea that Christ was a political figure, which would, in turn, limit His deity. Also, the idea that it created a temporal (or worldly) messiah is problematic when it comes to Catholicism. And the strings that attached LT to Marxism, an ideology that the Catholic Church deems to be incompatible with Christianity, was also problematic. Of course, that intention can be wholly debated. I know that I'm conflicted when it comes to liberation theology, myself. I believe that the spiritual must come FIRST when it comes to God, and the social aspect will follow. However, the world doesn't always seem to react that way, and there are many injustices that we must address. The Vatican seems to be more concerned with academia and theological discourse at times. Perhaps not intentionally ignoring the political, social and economic realities in the world, but being so far removed from that, it's easy to speak in platitudes and ideologies rather than practicalities and realities. In other words, MOST aspect of liberation theology were disavowed by the Vatican, and it's actually not as prevalent in theologian circles as it was 20 or 30 years ago though it is still bandied about in the African and Latin American churches.

There is more touching upon of feminism in theological circles in the North American "avant garde" religious community. Of course, most of those writings are either non-acknowledged by the church or completely rejected by the church, but it's still theological discourse that would be relevant to the original intention of this thread.
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