Reconstructing Christian Theology

Taylor’s publication here, co-edited with Rebecca S. Chopp, was a collective project with other U.S. theologians, seeking to re-organize (i.e. “reconstruct”) the discipline of Christian theology and the way it understands itself and presents its interests to students and the public. The book is situated in a time of perceived crisis for theology, as the persuasive claims of poststructuralist methodologies, postcolonial perspectives, and aspirations for political and economic liberation came to new prominence in late 20th-century theology.

The antagonism at work in this edited collection by 12 different North American theologians, focuses on a key conflict, intellectual and practical: between those who want to organize their thinking as a systematic set of inter-related doctrines, and others, like those writing for this volume, who relate doctrinal concerns with key crisis issues of the day (U.S. militarism, ecological crisis, the politics of the disabled, feminist concerns, economic exploitation and so on).

The arts appear only occasionally in these writings, but are especially evident in the creativity by which theologians strike the connection of their doctrinal ideas to the crisis issues of late 20th/early 21st centuries. Moreover, the genre of doctrine itself is often understood less as ideas in propositional form, and more as artful “symbols” that emerge from crisis, human creativity, and planetary flourishing.

Social movement concerns are referenced in almost all the book’s chapters, as these theologians acknowledge the drive of various groups, in the U.S., throughout the global South and elsewhere, to seek the dignity of human being, liberation from stultifying and exploitative policies, and integrity for all creation. Struggles for justice against U.S. neoliberalism, its wars and economic “consensus,” the fights of disabled groups, the environmental justice movements, black liberation groups and more – all leave their indelible mark in this theological work.