Theological Research: My Favorite Logos Kickstarter

Logos kickstarter

Since theology is the study of God and all things in relation to God, when it comes to theological research the sheer breadth of resources and topics can be overwhelming. Sometimes I need a little Logos kickstarter to get me going on a new project, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

One trick I use to get the ball rolling is to tinker with footnotes; it overcomes my inertia and helps me start writing in that section. There are, I’m sure, as many different tips and tricks as there are people.

Here’s my current favorite trick.

Search an author’s works

I have been fascinated by the Roman Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar for years now. He is complex and loquacious (the 21-volume 9,500-page collection represents roughly half of his oeuvre), with writing interests both wide and diverse. He is a great starting point for research on a slew of topics since he read liberally from across the Christian tradition.

If I want to search Balthasar’s writings for mentions of a particular theological idea or topic, I start by limiting my search query to works he wrote. To do this, I:

  1. Start a search by clicking the Search button.
  2. Limit my search parameters by clicking the search location (Everything in the image below).

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Gify-fun.gif
  3. Type “author:lastname” in the search bar.
  4. Select the search result that displays “# resources” matching my query.
  5. Type my term in the field as usual.

If, for instance, I want to search Balthasar’s writings for mentions of the “spiritual senses,” I know I’ll return at least a handful of results from works I’ve already read.

But since the Logos versions of these texts are enhanced with links and are fully-searchable, I’ll also return mentions from resources I haven’t seen. These mentions may be buried references that would have otherwise taken a thorough reading of his entire corpus to uncover. No matter how quickly you read, moving through 9,500 pages of theology is not a quick process.

In the case above, running this search reveals a reference to the “spiritual senses” buried in volume 5 of The Glory of the Lord

This brief reference, which comes around 1,500 pages after Balthasar’s primary discussion of the topic, clarifies and places boundaries on what he writes of the senses elsewhere. You might get the impression from his other writings that the spiritual senses are the highest experience available to humans this side of eternity. But here Balthasar clearly gestures toward an experience of union with God that is beyond sense perception, corporeal or spiritual.

As good as that is, it’s not even the best part. Because Balthasar read widely, he refers to authors and texts stretching from the patristic period to his contemporaries. These are the true gold for my research purposes (his translation of Origen’s writings, especially). In pointing me to his sources, I can then read and consider them for myself, all without leaving Logos (so long as the resources he mentions are in my library).

In short, this simple trick is like shining a floodlight into a treasure trove. All of a sudden, hundreds of new insights and possibilities are revealed within the text before me. I can methodically sort through them and explore them as deeply as time and resources allow, discovering more new ideas and possibilities as I do.

What about you? What’s your Logos kickstarter? Feel free to share your tips and tricks below.

Guest writer Adam B. Shaeffer holds an MA in Spiritual Formation from Talbot School of Theology and a PhD in Theology from Durham University. He is already a big fan of Logos 8.


  1. Hamilton R. says

    Nice article Dr. Shaeffer:

    I was doing a search in Google about “how to design a Seminary like education using Logos 8”.

    Many topics came up: dichotomy between Seminary education and training for ministry, etc.
    Some thought they were different, some thought that it all depended on the student initiative to put in practice things learned, and to search for opportunities that revealed needed knowledge for effective ministry while on Seminary.

    Eventually I also got to the description of academic focus in some Universities which are innovating in certain areas.


    One institution offers focus on “social transformation”. Not just to identify what needs to be changed, but how to actually go and do it.

    Some other had courses in “collective Stewardship (including institutional)”, which took that topic to a whole different level.

    The beauty of exploring what institutions and reflections of alumni is that important ignored areas come up, and one can then search L8 Library for more details.
    Many books on new ministry areas, and other innovations are available in Faithlife E books.

    Some posters in the net thought that Seminary gave a wide array of content, but not exactly in a coherent unified way that allow them to be fully prepared for ministry.
    Most did say that the tools learned, and thinking skills developed, help them cope with a wide array of responsibilities.

    One interesting thought was, when one poster mentioned that in his Biblical Greek classes, the particular teacher taught them how the knowledge developed in exegesis skills, specially related to ministry, and encouraged all to do such.
    It would be good to know the methodology for such relating of exegesis to ministry.

    So it would be great to find a resource or mobile ed course that helped one design a logical path to Seminary / ministry training oneself.

    Philosophy: epistemology, ontology, worldview basics, etc.

    Textual criticism: some methods are good for determining validity of doctrine by focusing both on internal and external evidence.

    Exegesis: learn first to understand the influence of presuppositions, assumptions, previous understandings, traditions, worldview, etc.
    Learn also to check the synchronic findings with diachronic evidence.

    Biblical theology: God, God’s order, Jesus, God’s ways, God’s people, etc. as described in “Ways of our God” resource.

    Historical theology: what is considered important and how was it treated. Also why and consequences.

    Systematic theology: Understand that being a believer is more than what set of doctrines one accepts as true. The original intent – according to the Bible- is to be fully prepared for every good deed (individual and collective) to glorify God who saved us freely by faith in Jesus Christ.

    Accordingly, christian living and orthopraxis are important, and should be a key part of ST.

    Practical theology: once learning the basics, and preparing for ministry according to gifts, actual involvement in direct or supportive action for outreach, looking for the lost should be encouraged.

    All the resources are there in L8: mob ed courses, digital books, etc.

    It would seem to me that the resources suggesting how to string it all together for certain types of ministry are missing.