Thomas Clark Oden is an American United Methodist theologian and religious author associated with Drew University in New Jersey. He was born in Altus, Oklahoma, and holds a Doctor of Literature from Asbury College.
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".
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". 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.
Commemoration of James Hannington, Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa, Martyr in Uganda, 1885 In America, it is hard to distinguish Christianity from its social and cultural setting. It blends into the scenery. Many people assume that we live in a "Christian society". Obviously, the Christian church has no strong witness against society. In [a communist country], the situation is exactly the opposite. Christians there live under a political regime which makes a point of distinguishing itself from all religion, and which is grounded philosophically on atheism and materialism. The Church lives in a hostile social order. The result is that the weak Christians are weeded out, and the strong Christians are tremendously strengthened by adversity.