While reading Beth Felker Jones’ Practicing Christian Doctrine: An Introduction to Thinking and Living Theologically, I came across the following list of extremely helpful questions to ask while reading theology (on page 29).
- What are the key Christian teachings being articulated? What is the author’s driving concern or main theme?
- What counts for the author as authoritative (Scripture, tradition, reason, experience…)? Is the author’s theological method implicit or explicit?
- How does the author deal with the witness of Scripture?
a. Implicitly? Explicitly?
b. Does the witness of the Old Testament matter? The New?
c. What biblical themes are privileged?
d. What interpretive principles are at work?
- How do these claims relate to other doctrines?
- How does context (including gender, race, class, culture, and time) shape the theological voice? Is the theologian conscious of this? How does your context shape your evaluation of the piece?
- Practice reading charitably. What is the best possible interpretation of how the piece reflects an attempt to be faithful to Jesus Christ?
- How do these theological claims relate to the life of faith? Doe you bring other questions from your experience?
- If this theological proposal were taken seriously, how would it shape Christian practice? Would it affect our participation in spiritual disciplines? Our understanding of faithful living? Our practice of evangelism? Our life as the church?
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