An Evaluation of Contemporary Challenges to Evangelical Orthodoxy Posed by Toon’s Four Basic Types of Theology: A Christian response -- By: Noel B. Woodbridge

Journal: Conspectus
Volume: CONSPECTUS 12:1 (Sep 2011)
Article: An Evaluation of Contemporary Challenges to Evangelical Orthodoxy Posed by Toon’s Four Basic Types of Theology: A Christian response
Author: Noel B. Woodbridge


An Evaluation of Contemporary Challenges to Evangelical Orthodoxy Posed by Toon’s Four Basic Types of Theology: A Christian response

Noel B. Woodbridge1

Abstract

Contemporary theology is a maze of conflicting beliefs and approaches. The present situation poses unique challenges to evangelical orthodoxy. Using typology (as developed by social scientists), this article surveys a limited variety of intellectual constructs around which the greater variety of contemporary theologies are built. The article analyses Toon’s four basic types of theology and evaluates their dangers, especially when their research methods are applied in a total manner. The article concludes with an appropriate Christian response to the contemporary challenges to evangelical orthodoxy posed by these approaches to theology.

Introduction

Contemporary theology is a maze of conflicting beliefs and approaches, from dogmatic fundamentalism, to radical liberalism. In fact, the shape of today’s theology has changed so much over the past century, especially since the 1960s, that it has become difficult to make sense of it all. The present situation of contemporary theology poses unique challenges to evangelical orthodoxy. Using typology (as developed by

social scientists) this article surveys a limited variety of intellectual constructs around which a greater variety of contemporary theologies are built. After discussing a few typologies of contemporary theology, this article analyses four basic types of theology. It then evaluates their dangers, especially when their research methods are applied in a total manner. Toon’s four basic types of theology are based on Berger’s extended typology—extended from three to four basic approaches to theology—the deductive, the inductive, the reductive, and the regulative (Toon adds the regulative or narrative approach of Lindbeck to the three approaches in Berger’s typology). The aim of this article is to provide an appropriate Christian response to the contemporary challenges to evangelical orthodoxy posed by these four basic types of theology.

1. Definition of Relevant Concepts

1.1. Type and typology

Richard H Niebuhr, in his Christ and Culture, supplies a good example of this method of typology. He explains a ‘type’ and ‘typology’ as follows (Niebuhr 1951:43-44):

A type is always something of a construct, even when it has not been constructed prior to long study of many historic individuals and movements. When one returns from the hypothetical scheme to the rich complexity of individual events, it is evident at on...

You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
Click here to subscribe
visitor : : uid: ()