The Future of Theology

In all of its activities, the Theology of Joy and the Good Life project seeks to involve and integrate the work of scholars working in sometimes disparate theological subfields, casting vision for a renewed and unified theological academy that places the articulation of normative visions of the good life at the core of its work. For this reason, the project begins with a series of consultations on the “Future of Theology.” 

These consultations respond to two parallel crises in contemporary theological discourse, one external, one internal. The external crisis has many faces: a loss of audience, a loss of institutional authority within the university at large, and a job crisis for young scholars in the field. Internally, theology largely misunderstands its own proper function. Contemporary theology is too often consumed by pursuing ends better pursued by other disciplines (e.g., the descriptive account of religious claims, practices, and rituals) or has functioned as a justifying ideology for ends unrelated to theologically-articulated visions of the good life. In short, theology has forgotten what it is for.

In the face of these crises, this series of consultations considers a proposal to put articulation of the “good life,” the flourishing human life—on the Christian account, a life shaped by the story of Jesus Christ from expectation to exaltation—back at the heart of the theological enterprise. This is what theology is for; in its greatest expressions, this is what theology has always aimed at. And solving theology’s internal crisis may solve its external crisis as well. If the business of theology is indeed to describe the flourishing human life, then now, as Western cultures fall ever deeper into a crisis of meaning, we may in fact be entering theology’s finest hour.

Each consultation is oriented around a draft of the Center’s proposal for the future of theology. Participants write brief responses to this proposal and each consultation’s conversation serves to further refine its argument. At the end of the series of consultations, the goal is to have a proposal for the future of theology—a “manifesto” if you will—by late 2016.

Consultations: 

  • October 2015
  • February 2016
  • April 2016
  • June 2016

JTF Logo The Theology of Joy & the Good Life project is made possible by the John Templeton Foundation with additional support from the McDonald Agape Foundation.