Which Theologian are You?

By February 11, 2008

I recently came across an internet quiz entitled “Which Theologian are You?”  You answer thirty theological questions, answering each on a six-division scale progressing from “disagree” to “agree”, and then submit your answers. In response, the quiz matches up your theology (by percentage) with that of ten influential Christians from throughout history, ranking them from one to ten, and tells you a bit about the theologian you match most closely with. 

I match up 67% with Charles Finney, the noted Presbyterian revivalist and Joseph Smith’s contemporary in upstate New York, but Anselm is close behind at 60%.  Jonathan Edwards, the 18th-century Puritan preacher and theologian, came in last with only a 13% match.  I am curious to see what others’ matches are.  If you take the quiz, please leave a comment telling who your first and last matches were.  I’m interested in how Latter-day Saints situate their theology in relation to other Christian denominations’ theologians, and what that reveals about the notion of a “Mormon Theology” or lack thereof.


  1. Rats! BYU’s filters blocked the site…”Sexual Materials”.

    Chris, what kind of site is this?? 🙂

    Comment by Jared — February 11, 2008 @ 8:16 pm

  2. Ok, so my top match was a tie between Karl Barth and Anselm (both 73%). The bottom match was Jonathan Edwards (13%). I found that the constructions of the questions made many of them difficult to answer unequivocally from an LDS perspective. I kept wanting to say “Well, yes, BUT…” It’s fun anyway.

    Comment by SC Taysom — February 11, 2008 @ 8:21 pm

  3. 73% Calvin and 13% Augustine. Not at all what I expected.

    Comment by Ahna — February 11, 2008 @ 8:59 pm

  4. 80% Anselm, 20% Tillich. Everyone else ranged from the 50s to the 70s.

    Comment by Keri Brooks — February 11, 2008 @ 9:01 pm

  5. 60% Anselm, closely followed by Augustine at 53%, 13% Jonathan Edwards

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — February 11, 2008 @ 9:39 pm

  6. High on Anselm. 7% on Edwards…so far it would appears that he is not going to make it out of the primaries.

    Comment by J. Stapley — February 11, 2008 @ 9:44 pm

  7. Jürgen Moltmann came blazing from behind to blow away the competition, with 87%. Here’s his description:

    The problem of evil is central to your thought, and only a crucified God can show that God is not indifferent to human suffering. Christian discipleship means identifying with suffering but also anticipating the new creation of all things that God will bring about.

    Anselm, Finney, Barth, and (yikes!) Calvin also gave strong performances with 67% each. Tillich came in last.

    Comment by David G. — February 11, 2008 @ 9:56 pm

  8. Jared, haha. No clue why it would be blocked for sexual materials. If there’s one thing these theologians are not, it’s sexy.

    Taysom, I had similar reactions while going through the questions.

    J., I guess Mormons don’t appreciate the notion of an angry God who is holding them over a hell of fire and brimstone, ready to drop the unelect on a moment’s whim. I actually enjoy reading Edwards, but apparently don’t prefer his theology.

    David, your theology has clearly been influenced by your recent studies of martyrology.

    Comment by Christopher — February 11, 2008 @ 10:10 pm

  9. Also, I find it interesting that Calvin ranks somewhere in the middle for everyone so far.

    Comment by Christopher — February 11, 2008 @ 10:10 pm

  10. Hehe, agreed. I was a bit shocked when I read his description that suffering was so central to is thought.

    Comment by David G. — February 11, 2008 @ 10:12 pm

  11. Jürgen Moltmann 73%
    Karl Barth 67%
    Charles Finney 67%
    Martin Luther 53%
    Friedrich Schleiermacher 47%
    Paul Tillich 40%
    John Calvin 40%
    Augustine 33%
    Anselm 20%
    Jonathan Edwards 0%

    (I love that last one…)

    Comment by Geoff J — February 11, 2008 @ 10:53 pm

  12. Poor Jonathan Edwards. Mormons just feel we’re sinners in the hands of a loving God, I suppose.

    Jonathan Edwards, by the way, is the name of the current pastor at the Baptist church in Marysvale, Utah.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — February 11, 2008 @ 11:09 pm

  13. Edwards gets a really bad rap. He’s more eloquent on the beauty of God than anyone else I can think of.

    I suspect Anselm’s doing well because most of the atonement questions in the survey smacked of him for me, and Mormons tend to be pretty conservative on that.

    Tillich first for me, Anselm a close second, followed by Barth, Schleiermacher, Calvin, Edwards, Moltmann, Finney, and poor Augustine last, which is kind of a shame, though I understand why.

    Comment by matt b — February 12, 2008 @ 12:06 am

  14. I am 93% Charles Finney, highest score of anyoone here. Calvin is last at 27%

    Comment by Doc — February 12, 2008 @ 12:11 am

  15. I got 93% Anselm, and 33% Edwards, with the rest fitting somewhere between the two.

    Matt B: Ditto on your views on Edwards.

    Comment by Ben — February 12, 2008 @ 12:17 am

  16. Charles Finney 60%
    Jürgen Moltmann 47%
    Karl Barth 40%
    John Calvin 40%
    Augustine 33%
    Martin Luther 33%
    Paul Tillich 20%
    Anselm 20%
    Jonathan Edwards 13%
    Friedrich Schleiermacher 7%

    Comment by Jacob J — February 12, 2008 @ 1:45 am

  17. 80% Barth, Anselm & Moltman tied for 2nd at 60%.

    Edwards last at 13%, Tillich next to last at 27%.

    Comment by Confutus — February 12, 2008 @ 1:50 am

  18. I have Finney and Barth tied at 60% (Finney won the tie-breaker), with Edwards last at 7%. But a lot of my answers were weak agreement or disagreement, because their issues or simply their language were largely foreign to me.

    Comment by Jonathan Green — February 12, 2008 @ 2:34 am

  19. YIKES!

    My results:

    Karl Barth 80%
    Anselm 80%
    John Calvin 60%
    Charles Finney 60%
    Schleiermacher 47%
    Augustine 40%
    Jonathan Edwards 40%
    Martin Luther 33%
    Jürgen Moltmann 27%
    Paul Tillich 20%

    I really don’t like how high Calvin is.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — February 12, 2008 @ 8:39 am

  20. I have Anselm and Barth tied at 53%, with Edwards and Luther at the bottom (13% and 0%, respectively).

    Comment by Justin — February 12, 2008 @ 10:38 am

  21. Jurgen Moltmann- 67% followed by
    Augustine – 53%
    No one else was above 50% but Jonathan Edwards was 0.

    Comment by AHLDuke — February 12, 2008 @ 11:03 am

  22. David,

    I scored Moltmann as my highest as well. Karl Barth was close behind.

    Comment by Jacob — February 12, 2008 @ 2:39 pm

  23. Jacob, must have been something in the seminar’s air. But that doesn’t explain Matt’s strange obsession with Tillich.

    Comment by David G. — February 12, 2008 @ 2:46 pm

  24. Anselm 87%
    Karl Barth 80%
    John Calvin 53%
    Charles Finney 47%
    Martin Luther 47%
    Paul Tillich 40%
    Augustine 33%
    Jürgen Moltmann 33%
    Friedrich Schleiermacher 20%
    Jonathan Edwards 13%

    Comment by Jeffrey Cannon — February 12, 2008 @ 4:54 pm

  25. Anselm – 93%
    Luther – 7%

    Comment by John — February 12, 2008 @ 4:57 pm

  26. Karl Barth, John Calvin, Charles Finney – 60%

    Martin Luther, John Edwards – 7%

    I don’t know enough about theology and philosophy to know what that says about me.

    Comment by spencer — February 12, 2008 @ 5:21 pm

  27. Ignorance abounds. Apparently, I find Anselm most closely matches my feelings, and I have to admit I know next to nothing of him. I have reading and thinking to do (but not too much thinking!)

    Anselm 67%
    Charles Finney 60%
    John Calvin 53%
    Friedrich Schleiermacher 47%
    Karl Barth 47%
    Jürgen Moltmann 47%
    Martin Luther 40%
    Augustine 33%
    Paul Tillich 33%
    Jonathan Edwards 13%

    Comment by kevinf — February 12, 2008 @ 7:51 pm

  28. Most: Anselm
    Least: Mortman, or something like that.

    I felt rather uneducated about some of the ideas and, more importantly, the implications of the ideas reduced to phrases.

    Comment by Ugly Mahana — February 12, 2008 @ 9:03 pm

  29. The less you know the better. If you know very much about any of these theologians and the differences between them, it’s pretty easy to tell what the questions are measuring. It would be cool to create a Mormon version of the quiz that measured one’s similarity to BH Roberts, Talmage, McConkie, Stephen Robinson, etc.

    Comment by SC Taysom — February 12, 2008 @ 9:11 pm

  30. I had the exact same thought about creating a Mormon version. Anyone feel qualified both as a tech-savvy individual and expert of Mormon theologians to attempt it?

    Comment by Christopher — February 12, 2008 @ 9:15 pm

  31. I nominate Stapley

    Comment by SC Taysom — February 12, 2008 @ 9:23 pm

  32. It would actually be a fun project, but I lack the coding skills to pull it off quickly. I think I would go with:

    Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Orson Pratt, BH Roberts, Joseph F. Smith, James Talmage, Joseph Fielding Smith, Bruce R. McConkie, Gordon B. Hinckley, Robinson and or Millet.

    I’d bet that most Mormons would top out with Talmage and Hinckley and bottom out with Young and JS.

    Comment by J. Stapley — February 12, 2008 @ 9:44 pm

  33. No Widtsoe?

    Comment by David G. — February 12, 2008 @ 10:22 pm

  34. Yes, the trappings of the hasty comment. Widtsoe would be good.

    Comment by J. Stapley — February 13, 2008 @ 12:00 am

  35. I’m Finney (I’m also sort of late on this…blocked by BYU at first).

    said: “You’re passionate about God and love to preach the Gospel. Your theology borders on pelagianism and it is said that if God were taken out of your theology, it would look exactly the same.”

    Charles Finney
    Jürgen Moltmann
    Friedrich Schleiermacher
    John Calvin
    Martin Luther
    Jonathan Edwards
    Paul Tillich
    Karl Barth

    Comment by stan — February 13, 2008 @ 9:59 am

  36. Anselm 80%
    Charles Finney 60%
    Jürgen Moltmann 53%
    Martin Luther 47%
    Friedrich Schleiermacher 40%
    Karl Barth 40%
    John Calvin 33%
    Augustine 33
    Jonathan Edwards 27%
    Paul Tillich 20%

    I thought the question about revelation vs. experience was interesting. At first I equated the two, but then decided they must be equating revelation with the Bible.

    Comment by Nitsav — February 14, 2008 @ 10:55 am

  37. J/David (#32 & #33)

    Do you really think the Mormon guys are that differnt from each other? I am also a little surprised by GBH being on the list. Would he still make this list 20 years from now?

    Comment by Eric Nielson — February 14, 2008 @ 11:33 am

  38. Eric: There are some pretty striking differences between them. For example, polygamy shaped the theologies of Young and O. Pratt, while evolution shaped Widtsoe’s theology.

    J.: I think that P. Pratt would also be a good candidate for your list.

    Comment by David G. — February 14, 2008 @ 11:58 am

  39. Nitsav, I too found the question on revelation vs experience interesting, and I imagine your interpretation of how they intended revelation to be meant is spot on.

    Eric, as David pointed out, there is some striking differences between the different theologians. That, coupled with the diverse responses to this quiz, lend to credence to the notion that Mormon theology is anything but concrete and that Mormons hold a variety of views regarding God and the gospel.

    I wonder if JS was added to this quiz of Christian theologians, where he might rank on each of our lists.

    Comment by Christopher — February 14, 2008 @ 12:08 pm

  40. It would be very interesting to me to see a basic review of differing theological positions of various Mormon leaders with references. It might take some work to put together, but I would enjoy reading that.

    Does such a thing exist somewhere?

    Comment by Eric Nielson — February 14, 2008 @ 12:37 pm

  41. I can’t really think of such a repository, but as has been mentioned, there really is a tremendous diversity. Just think of some of the larger doctrinal changes: law of adoption, polygamy, priesthood ban, Jehova/Eloheim/Michael, Word of Wisdom, death before the fall, fundamentalist readings of the scripture, millennialism, (not to mention obscure stuff) and the list goes on.

    Comment by J. Stapley — February 14, 2008 @ 12:50 pm

  42. I nominate Matt B. to tackle that project, at least for the BY through Talmage/Widtsoe era.

    Comment by David G. — February 14, 2008 @ 12:52 pm

  43. Heh. Thanks, Dave. I’m open, though collaborators might be useful.

    It surprised me last summer to find how much difference there was on issues even more basic than those Stape notes – like, obviously, the atonement.

    Comment by matt b — February 14, 2008 @ 2:02 pm

  44. In Volume 1 of his Mormon Thought series Blake Ostler gave a decent (albeit far from exhaustive) overview of the positions of some of the leading Mormon theologians.

    I will also note that Matt B is right based on my reading. There are very fundamental differences of opinion on basic theological and metaphysical issues among these leaders.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 14, 2008 @ 2:16 pm

  45. Wow,

    Am I the only one to have Schleiermacher as the top choice? No liberal theologians out there, I guess. He was the first of a three way tie with Charles Finney and Augustine. I like the “beauty of the saints outweighing the ugliness of the sinners”. I must be a closet Catholic, but liberal, like Hans Kung!

    Comment by jnilsson — February 15, 2008 @ 1:01 am

  46. I forgot to mention Karl Barth came in dead last for me, at 20%. He was the arch-enemy of liberal theology, you know.

    Comment by jnilsson — February 15, 2008 @ 1:02 am

  47. Barth, Anselm, and Moltman at the top, followed by Calvin, Edwards, Tillich, Finney, Schleiermacher, Augustine with Luther dead last.

    I just read a quick bio of Barth and can think of worse people to be identified with. After all, he said:

    “It may be that when the angels go about their task of praising God, they play only Bach. I am sure, however, that when they are together en famille they play Mozart and that then too our dear Lord listens with special pleasure.”

    Comment by Ward Organist — February 15, 2008 @ 11:21 am

  48. I missed this so I’m coming late to the party.

    You’re passionate about God and love to preach the Gospel. Your theology borders on pelagianism and it is said that if God were taken out of your theology, it would look exactly the same.

    Charles Finney 87%
    Jürgen Moltmann 67%
    Karl Barth 60%
    Martin Luther 60%
    Anselm 60%

    BTW – how could someone score high with Tillich? Is it that tricky double meaning #19? I said no way since I don’t think it possible that God is the source of our Being. But Tillich is also the “God doesn’t exist, he’s Being” sort of guy, isn’t he?

    Comment by Clark — February 15, 2008 @ 11:58 am

  49. My result was Charles Finney at 67%.

    “You’re passionate about God and love to preach the Gospel. Your theology borders on pelagianism and it is said that if God were taken out of your theology, it would look exactly the same.”

    Not sure how to take that last little bit…

    Other results:

    Charles Finney 67%
    Karl Barth 60%
    Anselm 60%
    Jürgen Moltmann 53%
    Friedrich Schleiermacher 40%
    Augustine 33%
    John Calvin 27%
    Jonathan Edwards 27%
    Martin Luther 20%
    Paul Tillich 13%

    Glad Calvin is down there. Never liked him much…

    I thought #12: “Sin is a biblical way of expressing our alienation from God, the true source of our being” was badly worded since it tried to cram two distinct theological concepts into one question. I agree with the first, but utterly reject the second.

    Comment by Seth R. — February 15, 2008 @ 12:03 pm

  50. Clark – The questions reorganize themselves every time you load the page, but I’d also refer you to the question Seth quotes, as well as the Tillichian critique of liberal theology.

    The question about the suffering God, by the way, is a paraphrase of Moltmann.

    Comment by matt b — February 15, 2008 @ 12:28 pm

  51. Now I’ve read the comments, there seems to be quite a few Finneys out there. Does this mean I have to read his books?

    Comment by Seth R. — February 15, 2008 @ 1:04 pm

  52. Finney was the most famous American revivalist of the Second Great Awakening, sort of a Billy Graham figure. I have never really thought of him as much of a theologian, but maybe I’m more of an uppity New Englander (with whom Finney often feuded).

    Comment by smb — February 15, 2008 @ 2:43 pm

  53. Finney was kind of a rough-hewn theologian; not really systematic or rigorous, but he did as much as anyone to move American evangelical theology from its Calvinist roots to a more Arminian (free-will, and hence more popular) orientation, both in terms of soteriology and the sort of sanctification philosophy that today is getting blasted as ‘the gospel of wealth.’

    Comment by matt b — February 15, 2008 @ 4:37 pm

  54. I think the Finney connections arise out of answering positive towards anything about freedom. So I get 87% Finney even though I’m quite the skeptic about LFW.

    So Geoff, were you surprised?

    Comment by Clark — February 15, 2008 @ 5:00 pm

  55. Finney also claimed to have seen a vision of Jesus in his law office. He later decided it must have been something else.

    Comment by SC Taysom — February 15, 2008 @ 5:27 pm

  56. Great, I’m the original Joel Osteen… I’ll have to go tell my wife not to allow me near heavy equipment for the next week.

    Comment by Seth R. — February 15, 2008 @ 8:19 pm

  57. […] For those readers sick of me posting various religious quizzes, I apologize.  I hope to post something more substantial soon.  I do find these short quizzes […]

    Pingback by Juvenile Instructor » I’m Only 92% Mormon — February 19, 2008 @ 4:16 pm

  58. Anselm is the outstanding theologian of the medieval period.He sees man’s primary problem as having failed to render unto God what we owe him, so God becomes man in Christ and gives God what he is due. You should read ‘Cur Deus Homo?’
    Karl Barth
    Friedrich Schleiermacher
    Jürgen Moltmann
    John Calvin
    Charles Finney
    Paul Tillich
    Jonathan Edwards
    Martin Luther

    Comment by Cicero — February 20, 2008 @ 11:00 pm


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