I thought the following, posted by a guy named “Adam B.”, was interesting. He is musing upon his readings of (or about) Friedrich Schleiermacher, commonly known as the Father of Theological Liberalism; the author of this post is dealing with the fall out of being confronted with the idea that in fact philosophy may actually be more involved with Biblical Interpretation, and thus theologizing, than heretofore, he had ever hoped for. He seems rather surprised by this development, which is interesting, because this author is a ThM student in theology (which is why he’s doing this reading) — I’m wondering why he hasn’t been exposed to this before (a prerequisite for a ThM degree is typically holding at least an MA in theology or usually an MDiv); nevertheless, let’s hear what he has to say, in brief:
After reading the principles of interpretation as described by Schleiermacher I was stunned… they seemed so similar to my own. And yet, his work was considered ground breaking for its time (even if he was only one of many at that time breaking ground). Could it be that my beloved historical-critical method was not lifted directly from the pages of Scripture but was actually birthed and laid at theology’s doorstep by that whore, philosophy? If so, it is already too late. I cannot disown her now; I love her too dearly. If I were to leave her on this account, who would take her place?
Whoa is me! What is the pure theologian to do? (for full text go here)
He mentions the “historical-critical” method, which is the method which most “Evangelicals” use to interpret Scripture; I guess this shouldn’t be a surprise — the fact that we have historically used what is also called the LGH (Literal, Grammatical, Historical) — since our history, as Evangelicals, is steeply rooted within the history of Christian Fundamentalism, which was a movement who sought, by-in-large, to counter-propose the proposals of ‘Liberal-Theology’ by meeting “Liberals” on their own ground, using “their” tools, methods, and even concepts (metaphysically). This student attends a seminary, like the one I attended, which is thoroughly grounded in the “Evangelical tradition;” thus it follows that he has inherited this historical-critical method to interpret.
To answer his question, his last clause, we should identify the impact that certain philosophies have upon our interpretive work; and then engage in the work of discerning whether “said” philosophy serves or undercuts the articulation of the Gospel. This might seem a simple anecdote, and it is, but it is true. Philosophy is inevitable (it’s just a human endeavor), nevertheless, Christian theology should never be coopted by philosophy; the history of the church provides trajectories wherein philosophy has indeed coopted the Gospel, but then we also have fruitful lines of inquiry and engagement wherein philosophy has been coopted by the Christian gospel, using its “grammar” but reifying (or restating) these philosophical categories in such way that in fact it can be said that philosophy can actually serve.