Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Thomas C. Oden
Thomas Clark Oden (October 21, 1931 - ) is an American Christian theologian associated with Drew University in New Jersey. An ordained United Methodist Elder, he is also perhaps the "Father of the Paleo-Orthodox movement" and arguably one of the most influential churchmen of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He has proven to be very important in the contemporary ecumenical movement and in Christian evangelical circles.
Oden was born in Altus, OK and graduated cum laude from the University of Oklahoma in 1953 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Three years later, he graduated magna cum laude from Southern Methodist University, Perkins School of Theology, with a Bachelor of Divinity degree. He received a Master of Arts from Yale University in 1958, and a Ph.D. from Yale in 1960. He also holds a Doctor of Literature from Asbury College.
Oden has taught at Yale University, SMUís Perkins School of Theology, The Graduate Seminary of Phillips University, Ruprecht-Karl Universitaet in Heidelberg, Germany, Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, Switzerland, Texas Medical Schoolís Institute of Religion, Drew University, Princeton Theological Seminary, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, the School of Theology at Claremont, Moscow State University, Gregorian University, Rome, and General Theological Seminary, in New York. He is currently Henry Anson Buttz Professor of Theology and Ethics at The Theological School and The Graduate School, Drew University.
He has served as the Senior Editor for Christianity Today and staffed the Editorial Boards of the following publications: Journal of Pastoral Care, Journal of Christian Counseling, Zondervan, Academic Books, and Pro Ecclesia.
Oden has been presented with numerous honors, awards, and fellowships.
- Phi Beta Kappa, 1953
- Senior Scholar Award, University of Oklahoma, 1953
- Moore Fellow, S.M.U., 1956
- Kent Fellow, 1957
- Society for Values in Higher Education Danforth Cross-Disciplinary Fellow, 1966-67
- American Association of Theological Schools, Faculty Fellow, 1976-76
- Arthur Vining Davis Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer, 1983
- Association of Theological Schools, Lilly Foundation Fellowship, 1983-84 Basic Issues Research Group
- Center Associate Scholar, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, D.C., 1986-90
- Christianity Today Institute, Carol Stream, IL, CTI Associate Scholar, 1989-91
He was married on August 10, 1952 to Edrita Pokorny. They have three children: Thomas Clark born in 1956, Edward Kent born in 1961, and Laura Elise born in 1963. His influences include United Methodist theologian Albert Outler.
Oden coined the term paleo-orthodoxy for his approach to theology. The term is derived from the roots "paleo" (meaning "ancient") and "orthodox" (meaning "correct belief"), so it essentially means "ancient correct belief". The movement relies to a great extent on patristic sources. It is generally associated (though not exclusively so) with evangelicalism.
Oden has published a series of books not only calling for a return to "classical Christianity" but also provided the tools to do so. He believes strongly that Christians need to rely upon the wisdom of the historical Church, particularly the early Church, rather than on modern scholarship and theology, which is often, in his view, tainted by political agendas.
He has written, "The term paleo-orthodoxy is employed to make clear that we are not talking about neo-orthodoxy. Paleo- becomes a necessary prefix only because the term orthodoxy has been preempted and to some degree tarnished by the modern tradition of neo-orthodoxy" (Requiem, p. 130).
Oden's desire is, "...to begin to prepare the postmodern Christian community for its third millennium by returning again to the careful study and respectful following of the central tradition of classical Christianity" (After Modernity...What?, p. 34). Oden himself has written that he hopes, "...to make no new contribution to theology" (Life in the Spirit, p. vii), preferring instead to recapture the spirit and authority of the patristic writers. Oden's work has been very influential, within the United Methodist Church and in the Church Universal. He is a leading figure in the Confessing Movement in America, particularly within the United Methodist Church.
- Agenda for Theology, later re-published as After Modernity...What? (ISBN 0310753910)
- Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series, which pieces together Biblical commentary from the Church's first millennium
- Care of Souls in the Classic Tradition
- Classical Pastoral Care series
- Vol. 1: Becoming A Minister (ISBN 0801067634)
- Vol. 2: Ministry through Word and Sacrament (ISBN 0801067642)
- Vol. 3: Pastoral Counsel (ISBN 0801067650)
- Vol. 4: Crisis Ministries (ISBN 0801067669)
- Doctrinal Standards in the Wesleyan Tradition (ISBN 031075240X)
- John Wesley's Scriptural Christianity: A Plain Exposition of His Teaching on Christian Doctrine (ISBN 031075321X)
- One Faith: The Evangelical Consensus (written with J.I. Packer) (ISBN 0830832394)
- Pastoral Theology: Essentials of Ministry (ISBN 0060663537)
- The Rebirth of Orthodoxy: Signs of New Life in Christianity (ISBN 006009785X)
- Requiem: A Lament in Three Movements (ISBN 0687011604)
- Systematic Theology (a three volume series)
- Vol. 1: The Living God (ISBN 0060663634)
- Vol. 2: The Word of Life (ISBN 0060663642)
- Vol. 3: Life in the Spirit (ISBN 0060663626)
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