An Overview of Theological Method
1. Hebrews’ Method:
Tell a story about great stuff God has done in the past. Conclude he can do it again—if we behave.
2. Pharisees’ Method:
If you’re not obsessive compulsive about cleanliness, learn to be, then you’ll understand the law.
3. Jesus’ Method:
Agree with the majority position on most issues. Apply it to all the “wrong” people at precisely the “wrong” moment.
4. Apostles’ Method:
Use some obscure rabbinical method to make unrelated passages, read allegorically, speak to the issue at hand. Plus, “God told me”.
5. Agnostic Method:
Well, I’d tell you, but if you were one of the elect you would already know.
6. Early Fathers’ Method:
Systematically read the OT allegorically as referring to Christ and the church. Don’t quote your sources so it sounds like you speak scripture itself. Add an argument from nature. If your reader is not yet completely sick of the topic at hand, add some philosophical principles for good measure.
7. Medieval Method:
Take allegory to a whole new level: make any passage speak about anything. Sound devotional. Mary is always appropriate.
8. Orthodox Method:
Quote the Early Fathers. If it’s not there, you shouldn’t be asking.
9. Reformers’ Method:
Make all of your theology revolve around a couple novel insights into a few passages. Say that they are actually not novel but obvious. Insult the Papists and the Enthusiasts as often as possible for thinking they are novel. No holds barred.
10. Historical Critical Method:
Point out that no two Bible authors say exactly the same thing. Relativize the ones you don’t like. Use the others.
11. Fundamentalist Method:
Pick a contentious issue. Find a bunch of passages that make your point. String them together in scripture reference short hand and declare yourself the winner.
12. Modern Lutheran Method:
Quote the Lutheran Confessions. If it’s not there find a Church Father who agrees with you.
13. Modern Calvinist Method:
Fundamentalist Method + Aristotelian Logic = “unassailable” conclusion.
14. Post-Modern Method:
Use the Historical Critical Method to outline the historical development of a doctrine. Conclude that the popular Post-Modern intuition is the naturally evolved—ahem, divinely guided—outworking of that development.
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