The theme of this issue of Priscilla Papers is Theology. The cover photo is Martin Luther, one of the world’s best-known theologians. He is the topic of one of our articles; moreover, 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.
I am writing this in San Antonio, Texas, at the 2016 annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. The word “theology” can be used in several overlapping ways. The name “Evangelical Theological Society” uses it somewhat broadly, for the Society and its annual meeting include specialists such as Old Testament scholars, church historians, and philosophers of religion. But within that broad gathering of theologians is a subset whom we might call “theologians proper.” I am referring to people, for example, who have the word “theology” on their diploma or in their job title.
Another use of the word is broader still: “We are all theologians.” “Everyone has a theology.” These statements are true, but clearly they use the word differently than one uses it, for example, in an academic article or a seminary catalog.
It is also common to append “theology” with a short descriptive phrase, hence “theology of work” or “theology of marriage.” Some fields of theological inquiry are so common that they have their own name; thus a theology of the church is an ecclesiology and a theology of salvation is a soteriology. Three of the articles in this issue are theology in this sense. Phil Duncan questions a particular theology of manhood. Joe Morgan-Smith and Glenn Butner investigate important aspects of soteriology.
Still another use of “theology” is to prefix the word with a designation for those people whom the theology seeks to serve (such as feminist theology) or the aim which the theology seeks to achieve (such as liberation theology). In this issue of Priscilla Papers, you will encounter the phrases “feminist theology,” “womanist theology,” and “mujerista theology,” which are attentive to the needs and perspectives of women, African American women, and Latinas, respectively. The article by Valerie Geer, which won second place in CBE’s 2016 Student Paper Competition and thus was read at CBE’s Johannesburg conference in September, expresses a theology concerned for victims and survivors of sex trafficking.
Anselm, an eleventh-century Benedictine monk and Archbishop of Canterbury, gave us the most famous, most concise, and perhaps most helpful definition of theology: “Faith seeking understanding.” Our hope is that these articles spur you on in that quest.
As I conclude this introduction, I should also call attention to the list of Peer Reviewers directly below this column of text. Recently added to the list is Dr. Marion Taylor, Professor of Old Testament at Wycliffe College in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In addition to Old Testament studies, she is also an expert in nineteenth-century woman theologians. I have been privileged to be able to express gratitude in person to four of our Peer Reviewers this week. Here I thank them all in writing, for Dr. Taylor and the rest of the Peer Review Team have volunteered their time and expertise to do important work in the service of Priscilla Papers and its readers.