Recently someone asked me whether they could do a thesis (MTh level) on postliberalism, particularly looking at the work of George Sumner. Since the person was from India, and a Christian, (both categories I use for myself as well), I felt certain questions needed to be kept in mind before deciding on a thesis writing topic.

1. What is the rationale/context of your study? Ie. why postliberalism?

2. There are two ways of doing postliberalism;
– as a historical study (looking at its birth/development and key figures).
– as a current issue, that either potentially helps evangelical(?) Christianity, or potentially harms it (or of course a bit of both).

3. If there is a current issue, then the thesis-writer needs to find a current theologian who has dealt either with postliberalism or writes within its framework. George Sumner is one, but is there any “Indian”/Asian
voice that either similarly expresses postliberal thinking, or at least necessitates a person like Sumner? By this I mean, like the thesis-writer has to answer why postliberalism, he/she similarly sneed to answer, why George Sumner (or any other theologian of their choice).

4. Are you (the thesis-writer) trying to address the “liberals” in India today? If so, who? What exactly are they saying? Once you identify those “problem” voices (and I’m assuming the writer finds liberal voices problematic), then it is easier to look for (and justify) the voice of ‘solution’.

5. In view of pt. 4, it is dangerous to begin research with the solution (ie. postliberalism or even George Sumner is a good example of how theology should be done etc etc).
– It is better to identify the problem and see whether postliberalism can help.
– Unless, of course, postliberalism IS the problem, in which case you should be able to show that it is a problem in India.

On that note, the following Calvin and Hobbes comic is appropriate! :)