The standard does not seem to be convincing argument. Instead, it’s a matter of arrangement and emphasis — putting things in the correct order, drawing out the proper connections, choosing the doctrines that will be controlling points of reference for others. As though we could finally put the pieces together in just the right way, and then it would just speak for itself.
Or rather, we could put the pieces together in just the right way and suddenly the proper moral consequences would follow. People blame and credit theology for so much, or at least academic theologians do.
This is where putting Judith Butler into contact with theology might be productive — exactly what effects do we think doctrine has on people? What is the mechanism by which this effect operates? One could also think in terms of rhetoric: How can it possibly work for us to say out loud that we’re changing something in order to produce a particular response?
Perhaps we need a less conscious theology, one whose right hand doesn’t know what its left is doing.