I apologize that I have been unable to use my blog as usual. I’ve been traveling and had limited internet access. And I am still having difficult signing into and using Disqus. But I will persevere and I think you all for your patience.
I recently learned of a new scholarly journal dedicated to Christian philosophers “doing” theology. I welcome that except…it also makes me nervous.
Right now I’m reading Justice: Rights and Wrongs by Christian philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff. I’ve always considered him as much a theologian as a philosopher. One person can be both although, in my opinion, it means wearing two hats because theology and philosopher are very distinct, if sometimes overlapping, disciplines.
To the best of my knowledge and way of thinking (as a theologian) theology uses special revelation while philosophy, AS philosophy, does not.
Now, of course, a philosopher like Wolterstorff can use revelation (as he does in many of his writings), but WHEN he uses revelation as a source and norm in an argument he is DOING theology, not philosophy.
My problem with philosophers doing theology, even if they are orthodox Christians, is that many of them are nnot trained in theology’s main sources–biblical studies, Christian tradition (to say nothing of Wesley’s “experience”).Not long ago I heard a philosopher lecture on the atonement. It was obvious that he did not know biblical studies or the history of Christian thought about the atonement. After critiquing many atonement theories (rather poorly, I thought), he expressed his own which I recognized as a version of Irenaeus’ recapitulation theory. I asked him about that after his lecture and he seemed completely unaware of it.
In my opinion, philosophers can be a great help to theologians and we theologians should rely on them for many things–primarily critical, logical analysis of concepts. Occasionally they come up with a concept that is extremely helpful to theology (e.g., evil as absence of the good). I just hope the Christian philosophers who plan to write for the new journal turn to orthodox theologians (broadly defined) for help when they write about doctrines such as the atonement.