Positive Theology

Team Members/Contributors

Ellen T. Charry Princeton Theological Seminary Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

Christian doctrines have generally been examined for their intellectual coherence and occasionally for their moral integrity. They have not generally been studied for the pedagogy that drives them or the psychological effects they intend. Christianity has a psychology, indeed a personality theory developed primarily by Augustine of Hippo. While his psychology is subtle, classic western Christian psychology largely revolves around a single problematic feature of the human personality: sinfulness. Salvation has been construed as an antidote to this central problem of human life and theology often focuses on the effects of the problem. Christian doctrines have not generally been examined for the positive emotions, attitudes, character strengths, virtues, and personal skills they may also encourage.

Like theology, modern psychology is based on the medical model and traditionally focused on problems. Positive psychology however, is turning psychology toward the investigation of human strengths and how they can be enhanced for the well-being of individuals and communities. Positive theology will establish a theological analogue to positive psychology to examine how various Christian doctrines contribute to personal strengths necessary for a flourishing life. It also invites empirical research to study the relationship between Christian doctrines and personal well-being.