Wednesday, July 11, 2007

heat wave + philosophical theology = whew!

Wow, it's hot today... Seattle's in the midst of its "summer heat wave," which happens every year, around this time, for about two weeks. Temps get up into the '90s and everyone complains because there are no air conditioners out here. Seriously. Most houses don't have them, because you only really need them for about two weeks. But right now there's a lot of whining :-)

Anyway, I am halfway through my Philosophical Theology class at Fuller NW, and we have been discussing the "problem of evil," and I hope to post a couple blogs on that soon. But first, the other day we discussed a "proper" view of Christian philosophy, and here is what my professor proposed. I am curious to see what other philosophically-oriented Christians think of this approach:

  • A Thomistic form: One should distinguish philosophy and theology and not confuse them. Philosophy and theology have difference audiences. The former speaks to the academy, the latter to the church. They have a different primary norm. Philosophy’s norm is to be faithful to reason and common human experience. Theology’s primary norm is to be faithful to revelation, or Scripture. They also have a different primary focus. Philosophy focuses on "fundamental questions of reality" (ontology, epistemology, etc), while theology, while drawing on conceptions of such primary issues (as is done in systematic theology), directs itself to more specific matters of faith (Christian life, worship, the Church).
  • An Augustinian content: Faith and reason must be viewed as being intimately connected in some way. Christian philosophy acknowledges its presuppositions. Every type of philosophy, or any discipline for that matter, has presuppositions, intuitions, etc. These basic intuitions cannot be deduced or proven in rigorous faith. They are the result of “gestalts on reality” or “gestalt switches,” and are usually rooted in paradigmatic life experiences. However, one should not necessarily distinguish them too sharply from reason.
  • A Tilllichian purpose: Theology draws upon the insights of philosophy, such that Christian philosophy offers an important service to the Church. Christian philosophers ought to recognize the responsibility that comes with such service.


BenMc said...

Is it fair to say the following (put in pedantic equation form):
Thomistic = philosophy =/= theology, separate but equal
Augustinian = philosophy+theology codependent
Tillichian = philosophy --> theology (a derivative result)
So, isn't there a reversed Tillich view? theology --> philosophy (a derivative result). I'm thinkin' Barth, but then again, to a person with a hammer everything looks like a nail.

Geoff said...

Yeah, Barth would be another sort of option... kind of an "anti Christian philosophy" perspective... although that's not really fair, Barth did have a son who became a philosopher after all.