Pat Conover: Sharing the Journey
Learning to Think Theologically

Oasis by paul goyette
Seekers Church School of Christian Living
March/April 2008
Teachers: Pat Conover and Anna Gilcher


The goal of this six session class is to learn to think theologically. This class is not so much a journey into a foreign country as it is a recognition of the implications of thinking you are already engaged in, or have at least encountered. We will address important theological questions and hopefully that will both strengthen your Christian faith and increase your ability to articulate your faith to others.


In each class there will be a relatively short introduction to a kind of theological thinking. Then the class will split into groups of three to explore and practice thinking and talking within the approach to theology under consideration. Then the group will regather into plenary sessions to share insights and to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. Teachers and students may each have a favorite approach and are welcome to project and defend their favorites. The teachers will promote the notion that each approach has some strengths and that the larger methodological goal for thinking theologically is to gain understanding of when each approach might best shape the individual's articulation of their faith.

In the six classes we will consider: doctrinal theology, biblical theology, natural theology, narrative (story) theology, liberation theology, and dialectic theology. These six alternatives do not exhaust Christian theological methods but do exemplify a broad range of thinking and will encourage constructive engagement with people who think in different ways. The process goal is not to prepare students to win theological arguments. Rather classes will aim at preparing students to listen better and speak better to draw others deeper into Christian journeys of faith, to build up the Seekers Community, and to provide leaven to the wider Christian world so that transformation and greater unity will become more possible.

Class One - Doctrinal Theology

Doctrinal statements aim at stating the Christian faith as clearly and as simply as possible so that Christians will know the rules they should live by. The class question will address a topic related to Sin.

Class Two - Biblical Theology

Biblical theology developed over 2000 years, including at least 800 years of writing. The class question will concern the development and transformations of the concept of covenant.

Class Three - Natural Theology

Natural theology developed before modern science and then struggled with the emergence of science. The class question will consider a respect for all truth as exemplified in the struggle over evolution.

Class Four - Narrative (Story) Theology

Individuals construct the meaning of theological concepts with reference to the stories that shape their lives, historical and biographic stories as well as fictional stories that illustrate some concept or interpretation, or appreciation. Students will be asked to tell a “framing story,” a story that has meaning to them.

Class Five - Liberation Theology

Liberation theology aims to uncover (deconstruct) oppressive aspects of rules, guidelines, scientific principles, historical interpretations, framing stories, and other communications to overcome oppressions of various kinds. The class question will concern an element of feminist liberation.

Class Six - Dialectic Theology

Dialectic Theology, specifically the theology of Paul Tillich, is interested in appreciating and integrating the permanent tensions between truths that seem to contradict one another. The class question will consider an aspect of the dialectic polarity of freedom and destiny.

Class 1 | Class 2 | Class 3 | Class 4 | Class 5 | Class 6

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