Thomas C. Oden

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Thomas Clark Oden (born October 21, 1931) is an American United Methodist theologian and religious author. He was Henry Anson Buttz Professor of Theology and Ethics at Drew University in New Jersey from 1980 until his retirement in 2004. He is currently faculty emeritus.[1] Oden has a B.A. degree from the University of Oklahoma (1953), a B.D from Southern Methodist University (1956), and earned his M.A. (1958) and Ph.D. from Yale University (1960).[2] He was born in Altus, Oklahoma, the son of an attorney and music teacher. He married Edrita Pokorny on August 10, 1952. They had three children: Thomas, Edward, and Laura.[3]

Oden is best known as a proponent of paleo-orthodoxy, an approach to theology that often relies on patristic sources. He has published a series of books that he says are tools for promoting "classical Christianity." Oden suggests 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 says his mission 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 is also active in the Confessing Movement in America, particularly within the United Methodist Church. He serves on the board of the Institute on Religion and Democracy.


Vol. 1: Becoming A Minister (ISBN 0-8010-6763-4)
Vol. 2: Ministry through Word and Sacrament (ISBN 0-8010-6764-2)
Vol. 3: Pastoral Counsel (ISBN 0-8010-6765-0)
Vol. 4: Crisis Ministries (ISBN 0-8010-6766-9)
  • The Transforming Power of Grace (ISBN 0-687-42260-4)
  • Ancient & Postmodern Christianity: Paleo-Orthodoxy in the 21st Century (Essays In Honor of Thomas C. Oden), edited by Christopher Hall and Kenneth Tanner (ISBN 0-8308-2654-8)
  • John Wesley's Teachings

Volume 1: God and Providence, 2012 (ISBN 978-0310328155)

Volume 2: Christ and Salvation, 2012 (ISBN 978-0310492672)

Volume 3: Pastoral Theology, 2013 (ISBN 978-0310587095)

Volume 4: Ethics and Society, forthcoming in 2014 (ISBN 978-0310587187)


  1. ^ "Thomas Oden Special Collections page". Drew University. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "Faculty page". Drew University. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  3. ^ "Thomas Oden Special Collections page". Drew University. Retrieved 5 June 2014.