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Introducing Theological Method

A Survey of Contemporary Theologians and Approaches

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Sound theological method is a necessary prerequisite for good theological work. This accessible introduction surveys contemporary theological methodology by presenting leading thinkers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries as models. Figures covered include Karl Barth, James Cone, Avery Dulles, Millard Erickson, Hans Frei, Stanley Grenz, Gustavo Gutiérrez, Elizabeth Johnson, George Lindbeck, Bernard Lonergan, Johann Baptist Metz, Wolfhart Pannenberg, Clark Pinnock, Karl Rahner, Paul Tillich, Kevin Vanhoozer, and Delores Williams. Introducing Theological Method presents the strengths and weaknesses in each of the major options. Rather than favoring one specific position, it helps students of theology think critically so they can understand and develop their own theological method.

Introduction: The Context of Modern Theology
1. The Work of Theology
2. Neo-orthodox and Ressourcement Theologies
3. Theologies of Correlation
4. Postliberal Theologies
5. Evangelical Theologies
6. Political Theologies
7. Feminist Theologies
8. Theologies of Religious Pluralism and Comparative Theology
Conclusion: Where Do We Go from Here?
Suggested Reading List for Students


"I wish I'd had this book when I first started graduate school in theology. Veeneman picks out a large number of major theological movements and calmly rehearses their methodological commitments. She catalogs their sources, their orienting questions, and their starting points, sometimes comparing them to each other but rarely declaring her own judgments. The result is almost a cheat sheet, letting students know in advance what to look for as they go on to read these authors."

Fred Sanders, Torrey Honors Institute, Biola University

"To understand modern theology we must first appreciate where its authors are coming from and how they view their task. Veeneman offers us a wide-ranging and sympathetic study of theologians from a variety of traditions and schools of thought, allowing the reader to make independent judgments. She describes the current theological scene without prescribing what choices we should prefer, making this an ideal introduction to the subject for students coming from many different perspectives. Nobody can relate equally well to every modern theologian, but this book will help us evaluate the approaches of those with whom we disagree as well as deepen our understanding of our own mentors. It is to be highly commended!"

Gerald Bray, Research Professor, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

"Introducing Theological Method is a paradigmatic book for students of theology as it sketches with skill the context and method of the most important theological voices of the last century. Moreover, it does not tell students how to do theology but shows how great thinkers do theology, leaving the student with a diversity of approaches and the challenge to discover what will be best for that student."

Scot McKnight, Northern Seminary

"Introducing Theological Method offers students a clear, cogent argument for the why and how of theology. Veeneman not only introduces us to key theologians and theological movements of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries but also illuminates their historical contexts to show how theology and historical location must be viewed together."

Lynn H. Cohick, provost and dean, Denver Seminary

"This introduction will generate helpful encounters with important modern theologians and movements--some who are well known, others who have been neglected. The variety of their approaches will challenge and enrich those of us who seek to be biblically faithful, ecumenically traditional, gratefully evangelical, and globally engaged theologians."

Daniel J. Treier, Knoedler Professor of Theology, Wheaton College Graduate School

"A major concern among theologians today has been to clarify the basic character and criteria of the theologian's quest. How are we to think and talk about God? This book addresses that problem by exploring the theological methodologies of some of the most influential Catholic and Protestant thinkers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Written by a scholar of considerable ability, this book is designed for beginning students. Its clear writing, engaging style, and dependable scholarship make it certain to find its way into many course syllabi."

Bradley Nassif, professor of biblical and theological studies, North Park University

The Author

  1. Mary M. Veeneman

    Mary M. Veeneman

    Mary M. Veeneman (PhD, Fordham University) is associate professor of biblical and theological studies at North Park University in Chicago, Illinois. She researches in the areas of theological method and theological ethics and also engages in questions...

    Continue reading about Mary M. Veeneman


"We need books like this that describe how theologians do their theology, and we need books that distinguish one's method from another's method. . . . This book will introduce the reader to some of the most important theologians of the twentieth century. . . . This book will not advocate for a particular theological method. Rather, it will advocate having a conversation about method and becoming more aware of one's own background, underlying assumptions, use and interpretation of sources, and driving questions. . . . This book is intended to help the reader become a better theologian by developing a good theological method."

Scot McKnight,

Jesus Creed blog

"The book is by all means a success, and like some endorsers on the jacket of the book, I wish I would have read it years ago, before becoming a systematic theologian. Unless one is as well-read and familiar with the subject as Veeneman is, readers can expect to learn quite a bit in a short space. The book is also particularly balanced in its citation of primary source material to supplement the general narrative--a delightful touch for those who want a taste of the various authors' actual voices. . . . Veeneman's text is a great one-stop solution for 'catching up' any student or layperson on what's been going on in the world of theology in the last century. Perhaps a primary source reader should supplement the book for a course on theological method, but all in all, Introducing Theological Method is a rare gem of notable value: a short, informed volume that successfully communicates and distills some of the most notoriously complicated topics in the humanities."

Jamin A. Hüber,

Reading Religion