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The Method of Methods...

 Theological Reflection: Methods

I have just finished reading - some parts more rigorously than others - Theolgical Reflection: Methods by Elaine Graham et al.  What struck me about the book was not the methods it presented - largely these were familiar - but the apparent method, or at least structure, employed by the writers.  Indeed, it was their approach, rather than their content, that struck me as being relevant to my own work with its use of Biblical, historical and recent case studies to illustrate the strands or streams being explored.

For me there were some useful confirmations for things I've instinctively noted...

  • there is nothing new under the sun (see, even I can start with a scriptural example!), the methods we think are new have already been and will be again
  • theology is never, and has never been, mono-dimensional, one size cannot fit all
  • all theology is, ultimately, practical theology in some way, shape or form
  • you can start at various places and follow different tracks and still end up somewhere similar.

Methodologically - or other 21st century over extended words for 'how you do it' - it was encouraging to see that the embryonic method I have been hoping to use has already got some credence, albeit open to critique.

Beyond the specific of my own work, is the fascinating idea of the method one might adopt to think about methods!!  I think the writers have quite cunningly selected an approach which should appeal across the theological spectrum and to practitioners with different past approachces to theology.  By using Biblical examples, historical examples (old and new) and then relating this to current practice they are using an approach I have seen evidence of in C17 Baptist writing on topics as diverse as hymn-singing and marriage.  So the method used is not actually new, but is of itself a realisation (the authors' word) of an older approach.

Not quite sure how I eventually work this into my literature reiew, but hey, at least I have my own thoughts on it!

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