Post-Modern Orthodoxy: A Review Article -- By: JoAnn Ford Watson

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 22:0 (NA 1990)
Article: Post-Modern Orthodoxy: A Review Article
Author: JoAnn Ford Watson


Post-Modern Orthodoxy: A Review Article

JoAnn Ford Watson

Dr. Watson is assistant professor of Christian Theology at ATS.

Thomas C. Oden, The Living God, Systematic Theology, Vol. One. Harper and Row, San Francisco, 1987. 430 pp. $29.95.

Thomas C. Oden, The Word of Life, Systematic Theology, Vol. Two. Harper and Row, San Francisco, 1989. 583 pp. $32.95.

This review will briefly discuss the contents of each of these volumes by Oden. These works represent the first two of a three volume systematic theology written by a major Protestant American theologian. Volume III will be titled, Life in the Spirit and will deal with the Holy Spirit, Church, sacraments, and the Christian life. Oden’s theology focuses on the development of “post modern orthodoxy” first stated in his Agenda for Theology (1979). “Post modern orthodoxy” for Oden is a contemporary reappropriation of classical orthodoxy. Oden states in The Living God, “Post modern orthodoxy is Christian teaching that, having passed through a deep engagement in the assumptions of modernity, has rediscovered the vitality of the ancient ecumenical Christian tradition” (Vol. I, p. 323). “Post modern orthodoxy,” Oden declares, stands in contrast to pre-modern reformed systematic theology such as Charles Hodge’s or modern accommodationist systematic theology such as Paul Tillich’s (Vol. 1, p. 329).

Oden’s systematic theology then has rediscovered the early Christian tradition. Oden organizes his work in each volume around a pyramid of sources in which Scripture and early patristic writings serve as the base. In Vol. I Oden writes, “The weighting of references may be compared to a pyramid with Scripture and early patristic writers at the base and the most recent references at the narrower apex.” (Vol. I, p. xiii). In Vol. II, Oden gives an actual pyramid which represents the ordering of sources with Scripture at the base, then Ante-Nicene, Post-Nicene Writers, Medieval Sources, Reformation Writers and finally Modern Interpreters on top (Vol. II, p. xv).

In Vol. I, The Living God, Oden states that his “aim is to present classical Christian teaching of God on its own terms and not in diluted modern terms” (Vol. I, p. xiii). This first volume on the doctrine of God is organized into four parts. Part I, “The Living God,” has three chapters. Chapter 1 deals with the naming of God as it comes to us from the Scriptural witness. Chapters 2 and 3 discuss the nature and character of God and focus upon the divine attributes of God. Oden speaks about the nature of God in terms of the Divine

Sufficiency and the Divine Majes...

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