The Dogma of History

A Hermeneutical Inquiry into the Historiography of Doctrinal Criticism

in Religion and Theology
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


This essay considers the role of historiography in doctrinal criticism from a hermeneutical perspective and in light of postcolonial and postmodern criticisms. First, historiography is defined using a Gadamerian typology, providing the basis for an analysis of Kenneth Scott Latourette’s well-respected essay on Christian historiography. This reading of Latourette illuminates the dogmatic nature of the prejudices informing Christian historical scholarship. Finally, these insights are applied to doctrinal criticism, arguing that the relationship between doctrine and historiography is dialectical, rather than one element having dominance over the other. It concludes by suggesting a chastened, “two-tiered” approach to doctrinal criticism capable of responding to the charges mentioned and to current trends in global Christianity.

The Dogma of History

A Hermeneutical Inquiry into the Historiography of Doctrinal Criticism

in Religion and Theology




Cf. e.g. ThiseltonThe Hermeneutics of Doctrine3–109; James William McClendon Doctrine vol. 2 Systematic Theology (Nashville TN: Abingdon Press 1994) 21–63; Vanhoozer The Drama of Doctrine; Alister E. McGrath Understanding Doctrine: Its Relevance and Purpose for Today (Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan 1992); Alister E. McGrath The Genesis of Doctrine (Oxford Cambridge: Blackwell 1990).; Most recently see Rhyne R. Putman In Defense of Doctrine: Evangelicalism Theology and Scripture Emerging Scholars (Minneapolis MN: Fortress 2015).


See LindbeckNature16–23 78.


McGrathThe Genesis of Doctrine p. vii.


Eileen K. ChengHistoriography: An Introductory Guide (London: Continuum2012) 1.


AllisonThe Historical Christ16.


GadamerTruth and Method175–371.


GadamerTruth and Method330–335.


GadamerTruth and Method335.


K.S. Latourette“The Christian Understanding of History,” in God History and Historians (New York NY: Oxford University Press 1977).


Latourette“The Christian Understanding of History” 49–50.


Richard W. Pointer“Kenneth Scott Latourette,” in Historians of the Christian Tradition: Their Methodology and Influence on Western Thoughtby eds. Michael Bauman and Martin I. Klauber (Nashville TN: Broadman & Holman 1995) 419–420.


Latourette“The Christian Understanding of History” 59.


Latourette“The Christian Understanding of History” 51.


Latourette“The Christian Understanding of History” 51–58.


Latourette“The Christian Understanding of History” 54.


See D.T. Hart“History in Search of Meaning,” in History and the Christian Historianed. Ronald A. Wells (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans 1998) 78 f; cf. C.T. McIntire ed. God History and Historians: An Anthology of Modern Christian Views of History (New York: Oxford University Press 1977).


George Marsden“What Difference Might Christian Perspectives Make?” in History and the Christian Historianed. Ronald A. Wells (Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans 1998) 15–16.


Cf. Hart“History in Search of Meaning” 83–85.


Paul Otto“Christian, Providential, or Ecclesiastical? Charting Christian Perspectives on History,” Fides et Historica 46 no. 1 (2014): 58–65.


McGrathThe Genesis of Doctrine172.


Amos Yong“The Genesis of Doctrine: A Study in the Foundation of Doctrinal Criticism,” Pneuma 21 no. 2 (1999): 359–362.


Dale T. Irvin“From One Story to Many: An Ecumenical Reappraisal of Church History,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies 28 no. 4 (1991): 543.


Lamin O. Sanneh“World Christianity and the New Historiography,” in Enlarging the Storyed. Wilbert R. Schenk (Eugene OR: Wipf & Stock 2002) 98–99. On historical Eurocentrism see Irvin “From One Story to Many”; Andrew F. Walls “Eusebius Tries Again: Reconceiving the Study of Christian History” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 24 no. 3 (July 1 2000): 105–111.


Andrew F. Walls“Mission History as the Substructure of Mission Theology,” Svensk Missionstidskrift 93 no. 3 (2005): 369.


  • View in gallery
    Figure 1

    Mapping historiographical prejudicesAdapted from Otto. Graphic courtesy of Paul Francisco

  • View in gallery
    Figure 2

    Mapping positions on doctrine according to a historiographic matrix

Index Card

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 12 12 12
Full Text Views 10 10 10
PDF Downloads 1 1 1
EPUB Downloads 1 1 1