Thelogical EVALUATION – Rosemary Ruether’s article

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The theological evaluations we write are to be three-pages, double-spaced and written in a standard 12-point font (Times New Roman or Garamond) with one-inch margins. In a theological evaluation the writer summarizes the arguments of a given author or authors and assesses their cogency. In other words, in addition to or in the process of offering a concise, accurate, and objective presentation of the author’s argument, a theological evaluation asks: How convincing is this, and what features of it make it convincing or unconvincing? A theological evaluation should be critical yet nonetheless charitable and also well-substantiated. •As a critical form of writing, a theological evaluation should keenly consider the argument at hand in order to reach a judgment about its strength. Is that argument effective, faithful, or convincing or not? Why or why not? Being critical does not mean you must argue against the text under consideration; rather, it requires that you consider it with a keen eye that does not merely accept the argument but seeks to determine whether or not it is convincing, whether or not one should accept it. After doing so, you may indeed be convinced. Taking the critical approach, however, should equip you to identify what accounts for the argument’s cogency. Keep in mind that in addition to agreeing or disagreeing with a given argument, you may instead conclude it should be modified. For instance, you may agree with an argument’s conclusion but believe it would be made more effectively on different grounds. •Even in cases where you disagree, however, a theological evaluation should be charitable, not engaging in ad hominem charges or other excessive accusations. Put differently, if an author is guilty, charge him or her with the particular crime but no more. And always be respectful in doing so. •As a well-substantiated form of writing, a theological evaluation should consistently employ scripture, tradition, and/or reason to support its claims. This applies to the criticisms it makes about other texts. For instance, if it judges a particular author’s argument unconvincing, it should be able to point to scripture, tradition, or reason to explain why. But it also applies to the claims the paper makes in its own right, which should be well-formed arguments grounded in scripture, tradition, or reason.


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