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A Preface to Theology

At a time of widespread perplexity about the social role of humanistic scholarship, few disciplines are as anxious about their nature and purposes as academic theology. In this important work, W. Clark Gilpin, dean of the University of Chicago Divinity School, proposes that American theological scholarship become responsible to a threefold public: the churches, the academic community, and civil society.

Gilpin approaches this goal indirectly, by investigating the historic social roles of Protestant theologians and the educational institutions in which they have pursued their scholarship and teaching. Ranging from analyses of the New England Puritan Cotton Mather to contemporary theologians as "public intellectuals," Gilpin proposes that we find out what theology is by asking what theologians do.

By showing how particular cultural problems have always shaped the work of theologians, Gilpin’s work profoundly illuminates the foundations of American academic theology, providing insights that will help guide its future.

238 pages | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 1996

Religion: Philosophy of Religion, Theology, and Ethics

Table of Contents

Introduction: What Do Theologians Do?
1: The Fruition of the Seminary Ideal, 1720-1830
2: Scholarship and the Culture of Protestantism, 1830-1880
3: The Case for Theology in the University, 1880-1930
4: Intellectual Center of the Church’s Life, 1930-1960
5: The Background of Possibilities

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