*Repost, comments off on this one.
I am currently reading Analytic Theology: New Essays in the Philosophy of Theology edited by Oliver D. Crisp and Michael C. Rea. I will be writing a review of it for the Pacific Journal of Baptist Research. I am currently reading chapter 2 entitled Systematic Theology as Analytic Theology by William J. Abraham. The whole book is, as it were, making an argument for the place of ‘Analytic Philosophy’ in Systematic Theology. If you are unaware, there is a schism (of sorts) between Analytic Theologians and Systematic Theologians. Ultimately the division between the two has to do with methodological commitments that impact material theological conclusions. The Analytic theologian wants to argue that their craft (Analytic Philosophy) is a necessary tool for the theologian to wield, in order for said theologian to think with rigor and respectability amongst other academic disciplines. At the end of the day, for the two main camps in this discussion—Analytic Theologians V. Continental Theologians—the question comes back to an issue of how the theologian perceives the role of Revelation. In other words, the question that Barth and Brunner debated over; viz. the question of the viability that a so called ‘natural theology’ (analogia entis) has within a prolegomenon for Systematic Theology. Or, do we start with Christ or Nature. Most Western Systematic Theology (in the Evangelical world) has gone the way of Analytic Theology and starting with Nature, methodologically—this move effects everything (all other doctrinal development).
In the following quote, Abraham describes the scorn that comes from non-Analytic theologians towards Analytic Theologians as he perceives it (as an Analytic Theologian).
Consider how analytic theology might proceed in articulating a robust doctrine of God. At present there is stout resistance in some theological circles to deploying philosophical skill in articulating a Christian vision of God that has multiple sources. There is, at the outset, the long-standing contrast that pits the god of the philosophers over against the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. From as far back as Tertullian and at least from Pascal onwards in the modern period we have been told that there is the dead, abstract god of the philosophers and the living God of scripture and faith. Karl Barth’s arguments against natural theology have aided and abetted this contrast sharply and made it the staple diet of three generations of theologians. To read for the god of the philosophers is to seek to justify ourselves by our works; it is to invent an idol rather than turn to the one true God of divine revelation; and it is to make revelation subordinate to human reason. In addition it has been suggested from the side of recent liberation theology that the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent god of the philosophers is the top-down god of the masters, the god of empire. An omnipotent god will end up, like it or not, being brought in to support the unilateral omnipotence of empire. Thus the god of the philosophers is, if only by default, in synch with the new North American, neo-colonial empire. From another angle the god the philosophers is a god one comes to know through cold, clinical logic divorced from genuine spirituality and from the special revelation through whom God is supremely known and loved. So the god of the philosophers is really the god of pagan thinking rather than the God known and worshipped in the faith of the saints and martyrs. [William J. Abraham, chpt. 2, Analytic Theology, 61]
[One caveat, Abraham polarizes the characterization of the ‘Liberation Theologian’s’ disdain for the god of the philosophers. In truth, Abraham’s ‘Liberation Theology’ doesn’t just gripe against the god of the philosophers, but against the God of the Christian Tradition—I am assuming Abraham thinks that the god of the philosophers is univocal with the God of the Christian Tradition. In some quarters this may be the case, but not in all, and not in the best of the Tradition.]
In our forthcoming book, Evangelical Calvinism: Essays Resourcing the Continuing Reformation of the Church. Princeton Theological Monograph Series. Eds. Myk Habets and Bobby Grow. Foreword by Alasdair Heron. Eugene, OR.: Pickwick Publications, my particular chapter is entitled: “Analogia Fidei or Analogia Entis: Either Through Christ or Through Nature.” My area of interest, in my chapter, revolves around the very questions that Abraham is addressing. I follow the ‘Analogy of Faith’ (through Christ) contra what Abraham would follow the ‘Analogy of Being’ (or through ‘Natural’ Theology). Some would say that this presents a false dichotomy, that a chaste approach would understand that we need both working in tandem with each other. But I would suggest that this fails to understand the critique on theological method that this dichotomy reflects. Do we start with God’s ‘Self-revelation’ and ‘Self-interpretation’ in his ‘Self-interpreting-Word’ (cf. Jn. 1.18); or do we start with seeking the glory of man theologia gloriae (cf. Jn. 5.39-47)?