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Prolegomena: A Word before We Begin

IA. A Prolegomena to Transformative Theology

1B. Introduction: “The State of the Union”

1C. Screwtape Learns A Lesson—C. S. Lewis, The ScrewTape Letters

    The Junior demon was not to teach people to think…about anything!

2C. Mark Noll—The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind

    The “scandal” is that there is no mind.

3C. Os Guinness—Fit Bodies and Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals Don’t Think and What To Do about It

    Guinness gives eight influences affecting evangelicals—influences leading to an evangelical “ghost mind.”

2B. Doing Transformative Theology and Other Trades

3B. Definitions and Goals: Theological Vision

1C. Various Uses of the Term ‘Theology’
1D. Natural Theology
2D. Dogmatic Theology
3D. Historical Theology
4D. Biblical Theology
5D. Systematic Theology
6D. Apologetic Theology
2C. Definitions of Systematic Theology
1D. Stanley Grenz and Roger E. Olson

    “Christian theology is reflecting on and articulating the God-centered life and beliefs that Christians share as followers of Jesus Christ, and it is done in order that God may be glorified in all Christians are and do.”1

2D. Millard J. Erickson

    Theology is “that discipline which strives to give a coherent statement of the doctrines of the Christian faith, based primarily upon the Scriptures, placed in the context of culture in general, worded in a contemporary idiom, and related to the issues if life.”2

3D. John H. Leith

    Christian theology is critical reflection about God, about human existence, about the nature of the universe and about faith itself in the light of the revelation of God recorded in Scripture and particularly embodied in Jesus Christ, who is for the Christian community the final revelation, that is, the definitive revelation which is the criteria of all other revelations.”3

4D. Charles Hodge4

    (1) “Theology therefore, is the exhibition of the facts of Scripture in their proper order and relation, with the principles or general truths involved in the facts themselves which pervade and harmonize the whole; (2) theology…[is] the science of the facts of divine revelation so far as those facts concern the nature of God and our relation to him, as his creatures, as sinners and as subjects of redemption. All of these facts, as just remarked are in the Bible. But as some of them are revealed by the works of God, and by the nature of man, there is so far a distinction between natural theology, and theology considered distinctively as a Christian science.”5

3C. The Goal of Doing Transformative Theology

4B. Ideas Do Matter!

5B. Categories of Systematic Theology: A Helpful Grid

1C. An Important Note
2C. Bibliology: The Bible
3C. Theology Proper: God
4C. Christology: The Person and Work of Christ
5C. Pneumatology: The Holy Spirit
6C. Angelology: Holy and Fallen Angels
7C. Anthropology: Man
8C. Hamartiology: Sin
9C. Soteriology: Salvation
10C. Ecclesiology: The Church
11C. Eschatology: End Times

6B. Sources for Doing Transformative Theology

1C. Scripture: The Primary Authority
2C. Tradition: A Voice from the Past and Present
3C. Culture/Reason: The “Frog in the Kettle”

IIA. The Person Doing Transformative Theology

1B. Personal Character and Context

1C. Christlike Beliefs
2C. Christlike Virtues
3C. Christlike Habits
4C. Christlike Relationships: The Centrality of Biblical Community in the Theological Task

2B. Personal Skills and Knowledge

1C. Differing Conceptions of Truth
2C. Sources of Knowledge
3C. Biblical Language and the Nature of God
1D. Univocal Language
2D. Equivocal Language
3C. Analogical Language
4C. Developing Reasoning Skills
1D. Creative Thinking
1E. Misconceptions about Creative Thinking
2E. A Creative Idea
3E. Facts about Creative Thinking
2D. Critical Thinking
1E. Misconceptions about Critical Thinking
2E. The Need for Critical Thinking
3E. Facts about Critical Thinking
3D. A Holistic Model: Combining Creativity and Critical Awareness
1E. Exploration
2E. Expression
3E. Investigation
4E. Idea Production
5E. Evaluation and Refinement
4D. Understanding Argumentation
1E. Induction and Deduction
2E. The Structure of An Argument

1F. The Claim(s)

2F. The Ground(s)

3F. The Warrant(s)

4F. The Backing

5F. The Qualifiers

6F. The Rebuttals

3E. Informal Fallacies To Watch For

1F. Fallacies of Relevance

2F. Fallacies of Presumption, Ambiguity, and Grammatical Analogy

3F. Fallacies of Ordinary Language

2C. Developing an Understanding of Philosophy
1D. The History of Philosophy
1E. Ancient Philosophy
2E. Medieval Philosophy
3E. Modern Philosophy
4E. Contemporary Philosophy
2D. The Main Ideas Studied in Philosophy
1E. Reality/Metaphysics
2E. God
3E. Experience
4E. Death
5E. Logic, Knowledge, and Truth
6E. Ethics and Value
7E. Meaning

IIIA. The Practice of Doing Transformative Theology

1B. Prayer and Alertness

2B. A Method

1C. Exploration
1D. Ask Questions (5 W’s)
2D. Search the Scriptures for Relevant Passages and Themes
3D. Read One or Two Dictionary Articles
2C. Expression
1D. The Central Questions in the Discussion
2D. The Major Answers Given to the Questions
3C. Investigation
1D. Read The Most Important Works (Cited in Dictionary Article or from Research)
2D. Outline Their Arguments: Weak Points/Good Points/Foundational Points
4C. Idea Production
1D. Review the Biblical Data
2D. Review the Major Questions and Answers
3D. Think through Creative Alternatives and New Solutions
4D. Think Laterally (Correlation Is Key!)
5D. State, Explain, and Defend Your Solution
5C. Evaluation and Refinement
1D. Think through the Practical Consequences of Your Idea.
2D. Does It Line Up with Scripture, Christian Theology (i.e., the gospel) and Is It Internally Consistent? Why Is It Better than Other Solutions?
3D. Why Will People Accept/Not Accept It? How Can You Help Them?

3B. Areas To Think About

1C. Biblical/Theological Issues
2C. Church Praxis Issues
3C. Ethical Issues
4C. Political Issues
5C. Wider Cultural Issues
6C. Apologetics

4B. Implementing Your Ideas

IVA. Select Bibliography

1B. Biblical

1C. Commentary Series

    The NIV Application Commentary Series, Zondervan

    Tyndale Commentary on the OT/NT, Eerdmans/IVP

    The New International Biblical Commentary Series (NIBC), Hendrickson

    The New American Commentary Series (NAC), Broadman and Holman

    The New International Commentary on the OT/NT (NICOT/NICNT), Eerdmans

    Baker Exegetical Commentary Series (BEC), Baker

    The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (EBC), Zondervan

    Word Biblical Commentary (WBC), Word Publishers

    The New International Greek New Testament Commentary (NIGNT), Eerdmans

2C. Backgrounds, Introductions and Surveys

    Carson, D. A. et al. An Introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992.

    Ferguson, Everett. Backgrounds of Early Christianity. Second Edition. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993.

    Gower, Ralph. The New Manners and Customs of Bible Times. Chicago: Moody, 1987.

    Hill, Andrew E. and John H. Walton. A Survey of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991.

    Jeffers, James S. The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era: Exploring the Background of Early Christianity. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1999.

    Livingston, G. Herbert. The Pentateuch in Its Cultural Environment. 2nd Ed. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987.

    Schürer, Emil. The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ. 4 Vols. Rev. by Geza Vermes et al. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1973.

3C. Hermeneutics and Bible Study Methods

    Alder, Mortimer J. and Charles Van Doren. How to Read a Book. Revised and Updated. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972.

    Carson, D. A. Exegetical Fallacies. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996.

    Fee, Gordon and Douglas Stuart. How To Read the Bible for All Its Worth: A Guide To Understanding the Bible. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993.

    Osborne, Grant R. The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1991.

    Ryken, Leland. How To Read the Bible as Literature. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994.

    Silva, Moiss, ed. Foundations of Contemporary Interpretation: Six Volumes in One. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

    Stein, Robert H. A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible: Playing by the Rules. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994.

4C. Biblical Theology

    Kaiser, Walter C. Toward an Old Testament Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991.

    Ladd, George Eldon. A Theology of the New Testament. Rev. and ed. by Donald Hagner. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993.

    Zuck, Roy B. and Darrell L. Bock, eds. A Biblical Theology of the New Testament. Chicago: Moody, 1994.

2B. Theological Method and Historical Theology

Berkhof, Louis. The History of Christian Doctrines. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1937.

Grenz, Stanley J. and Roger E. Olson, Who Needs Theology? An Invitation to the Study of God. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1996.

Grenz, Stanley and John R. Franke. Beyond Foundationalism: Shaping Theology in a Postmodern Context. Louisville, KY: Knox, 2001.

Guinness, Os. Fit Bodies, Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals Don’t Think and What To Do about It. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994.

Hart, Trevor. Faith Thinking: The Dynamics of Christian Theology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1995.

Lints, Richard. The Fabric of Theology: A Prolegomena to Evangelical Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993.

Lewis, Donald and Alister McGrath. Doing Theology for the People of God: Studies in Honor of J. I. Packer. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1996.

McGrath, Alister E. Christian Theology: An Introduction. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 1997.

________, ed. The Christian Theology Reader. Oxford: Blackwell, 1995.

Noll, Mark. The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994.

3B. Systematic Theologies

Bray, Gerald, ed. The Contours of Christian Theology. 9 vols. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993-?

    Gerald Bray. The Doctrine of God.

    Robert Letham. The Work of Christ

    Donald MacLeod. The Person of Christ

    Paul Helm. The Providence of God

    Charles Sherlock. The Doctrine of Human Nature

    Sinclair Ferguson. The Holy Spirit

    Edmund Clowney. The Church

    Klaus Runia. The Last Things

    Peter Jensen. The Revelation of God

Elwell, Walter A., ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984.

Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985.

Ferguson, Sinclair B. and J. I Packer. New Dictionary of Theology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1988.

Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994.

Lewis, Gordon R. and Bruce A. Demarest, Integrative Theology: Three Volumes in One. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

4B. Logic and Argumentation

Barry, Vincent E. and Douglas J. Soccio. Practical Logic. 3rd ed. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1988.

Walton, Douglas N. Informal Logic: A Handbook for Critical Argumentation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Fahnestock, Jeanne and Mary Secor. A Rhetoric of Argument. 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1990.

Toulmin, Stephen, The Uses of Argument. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1958.

5B. Reason/Philosophy

Adler, Mortimer J. Aristotle for Everybody: Difficult Thought Made Easy. New York: Touchstone, 1978.

________. Six Great Ideas. New York: Touchstone, 1981.

________. Ten Philosophical Mistakes. New York: MacMillan, 1985.

Allen, Diogenes and Eric O. Springsted, eds. Primary Readings in Philosophy for Understanding Theology. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox, 1992.

Blamires, Harry. The Christian Mind: How Should A Christian Think. Ann Arbor, MI: Servant, 1963.

________. The Post Christian Mind: Exposing Its Destructive Agenda. Ann Arbor, MI: Servant, 1999.

Kolak, Daniel and Raymond Martin. The Experience of Philosophy. 3rd ed. Albany: Wadsworth, 1996.

Lavine, T. Z. From Socrates to Sartre: The Philosophic Quest. New York: Bantam, 1984.

Moore, Brooke Noel and Kenneth Bruder. Philosophy: The Power of Ideas. 2nd ed. Toronto: Mayfield, 1993.

Solomon, Robert C. and Kathleen M. Higgins. A Short Introduction to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Yandel, Keith E. Christianity and Philosophy. Studies in a Christian Worldview. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984.

6B. Ethics

Barnet, Sylvan and Hugo Bedau. Current Issues and Enduring Questions: Methods and Models of Argument. 2nd ed. Boston: St. Martin’s, 1990.

Curtler, Hugh Mercer. Ethical Argument: Critical Thinking in Ethics. New York: Paragon, 1993.

Feinberg, John S. and Paul D. Feinberg. Ethics for A Brave New World. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1993.

Geisler, Norman L. Christian Ethics: Options and Issues. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999.

Grenz, Stanley J. The Moral Quest: Foundations for Christian Ethics. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1997.

Holmes, Arthur F. Ethics: Approaching Moral Decisions. Contours of Christian Philosophy Series, ed. C. Stephen Evans. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1984.

MacIntyre, Alasdair. A Short History of Ethics. New York: Touchstone, 1966.

Olen, Jeffery and Vincent Barry. Applying Ethics. 4th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1992.

Rae, Scott B. Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000.

Ruggiero, Vincent Ryan. Thinking Critically about Ethical Issues. Toronto: Mayfield, 1992.

Sterba, James P. ed. Morality in Practice. 3rd ed. Blemont, CA: Wadsworth, 1991.

7B. Politics

Beckwith, Francis J., and Michael E. Bauman. Are You Politcally Correct? Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1993.

Eidsmore, John. Christianity and the Constitution: The Faith of Our Founding Fathers. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987.

Gaede, S. D. When Tolerance Is No Virtue. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993.

Hatch, Nathan. The Democratization of American Christianity. New Haven, CT: Yale, 1991.

Maclear, J. F., ed. Church and State in the Modern Age. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Stone, Ronald H. Reformed Faith and Politics. Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1983.

8B. Cultural

Gaede, S. D. When Tolerance Is No Virtue: Political Correctness, Multiculturalism and the Future of Truth and Justice. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993.

Hunter, James Davison. Culture Wars. New York: Harper Collins, 1992

9B. Apologetics

Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1984.

Evans, C. Stephen. The Historical Christ and the Jesus of Faith: The Incarnational Narrative as History. Oxford: Clarendon, 1996.

________. Why Believe: Reason and Mystery as Pointers to God. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996.

Moreland, J. P. Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987.

Murray, Michael J., ed. Reason for the Hope Within. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999.

Placher, William C. Unapologetic Theology: A Christian Voice in a Pluralistic Culture. Louisville, KY: Westminster/Knox, 1989.

Wells, David F. God in the Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994.

________. No Place for Truth or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993.

10B. Public Speaking and Teaching

Hendricks, Howard G. Teaching To Change Lives. Portland, OR: Multnomah, 1987.

LeFever, Marlene D. Creative Teaching Methods: Be An Effective Christian Teacher. Elgin, IL: David C. Cook, 1985.

Litfin, A. Duane. Public Speaking: A Handbook for Christians. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981.

Robinson, Haddon W. Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980.

Strunk, William, Jr., and E. B. White. The Elements of Style. 4th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2000.

Wilhoit, Jim and Leland Ryken. Effective Bible Teaching. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988.

Williams, Keith and Scott M. Gibson, eds. The Big Idea of Biblical Preaching. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998.


1 Stanley J. Grenz and Roger E. Olson, Who Needs Theology? An Invitation to the Study of God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1996), 49.

2 Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985), 21.

3 John Leith, An Introduction to the Reformed Faith: A Way of Being the Christian Community, rev. ed. (Atlanta: John Knox, 1981), 91.

4 Charles Hodge (1797-1878) was one of the most influential American Presbyterian theologians of the nineteenth century. He taught at Princeton from 1822 until he died. He was a strong Calvinist who wrote commentaries on Romans, Ephesians, 1 and 2 Corinthians as well as various treatises including one against Darwinism. He defended the Bible against inroads from higher criticism and wrote a three volume systematic theology of 2000 pages! See Mark Noll, “Hodge, Charles,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984), 513-14.

5 Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 1:19.

Related Topics: Introduction to Theology, Teaching the Bible