Lexham Survey of Theology - feedback

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 18 2019 4:06 PM

Brannon Ellis:
Most of the folks involved in the Lexham Survey of Theology (for example) hold PhDs in biblical and theological disciplines, have published scholarly works, and teach at reputable institutions.

You've missed one critical element. In my field of study, an encyclopedia on Japanese Buddhism (primarily Zen) would be garbage if written by the world experts in Theravadan Buddhism. Where the LST gets in trouble is when the author is writing about the view of a church whose theology is so far from his own that they don't know that they don't know. You need to get editors in each of the major denominational strands to read the text specifically with respect to their own tradition being accurately portrayed. Given some of the simple misunderstandings (and therefore misrepresentation) of the history of Catholicism, I simply shrugged the LST off as unreliable - likely unfairly but not uncommon.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Brannon Ellis | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 18 2019 5:34 PM

MJ. Smith:
You've missed one critical element.

Just wait, I'm sure you'll discover more! ;)

In all seriousness, I totally agree that there's real work to be done to improve and extend the LST (as I said in my previous post). And of course, sometimes growing in understanding means having the humility to revisit what we think we already know. As Henri Nouwen said, “Theological formation is the gradual and often painful discovery of God's incomprehensibility. You can be competent in many things, but you cannot be competent in God.”

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SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 19 2019 6:55 AM

Brannon Ellis:


I feel your frustration.

Thank you for entering into this discussion and responding to my concern.

Brannon Ellis:
The LST could stand to have a General Introduction, which Mark Ward and I haven’t written yet.

I agree.

Brannon Ellis:
The LST’s editorial stance follows Lexham’s: broadly evangelical (which, in this case, implies a Protestant perspective) while being appreciative of the grand tradition of catholic and orthodox Christian reflection (which includes upper-case Catholicism and Orthodoxy). Each topic is supposed to cover areas of intramural agreement and debate with an objective but invested tone.  Just as importantly, we want to better orient people to the how of theological reasoning, not just the what of theological information. Not everything in the LST lives up to those high aspirations, but I’m still proud of what the team was able to accomplish.

I get that. And, as a non-Protestant (indeed, ex-Protestant), I can see value in your editorial stance and what you have produced.

Brannon Ellis:
The LST’s lack of a traditional introduction, if I can step back and justify it for a moment, partly reflects the reality that this resource isn’t designed to be a stand-alone “book” (although we may derive something like that from it one day).

Indeed, it did not come across as a full stand-alone book to me when I first looked at it.

Brannon Ellis:
The LST represents one step in a broader vision for making Logos Bible Software as powerful and useful for theological study as it is for biblical study. But perhaps even saying it that way is a false choice: what we really want with this project is to show how the way each of us engages in the work of learning and reasoning through Christian doctrine is inseparable from what Scripture claims about God and his ways. Theology is likewise inseparable from the fruits of the broader community of faith and its wrestling with what the Bible says and what it means (even where we may disagree). Studying the Bible and studying theology, well understood, are inseparable. The God of the Bible says that his goal for creation is that the knowledge of his glory will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (Hab 2:14). That knowledge encompasses more than what we usually call theology, but it certainly isn’t less.

As a disciple of St. Thomas Aquinas, I have no disagreement with your stance here.

Brannon Ellis:
Pursuing this broader integrative vision for theological study in Logos is very much a work in progress, and so is the LST itself. The original idea came from Carl Sanders, who has been an avid Logos user throughout his career as a professor of theology. I’ll be the first to admit that the current LST doesn’t live up to Carl’s big vision for doing theology in Logos, nor does it take advantage of nearly enough opportunities for platform integration. But we have lots of plans that I’m pretty excited about. I’d call LST 1.0 a good first step in the right direction.

I'm looking forward to LST 1.(0+n).

Brannon Ellis:
All that notwithstanding, we should still write a General Introduction for 2.0. Maybe I’ll draw from this response to start. :)

I agree that 2.0 should have a general introduction. But may I make a suggestion for something that can still easily (and quickly) be done with LST 1.0? Write a sentence, perhaps derived directly from the one you wrote at the beginning of paragraph two of your post, that indicates the LST's evangelical Protestant outlook. Then put that sentence in the description visible in the Library pane for the LST and on its (well-hidden) PDP. If you carry out this suggestion, my principal concern about the LST, the one that caused me to start this thread, will have been resolved sufficiently from my perspective.

Thank you again for taking the time to consider what I had earlier written and for having written your opening response.

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