Friday, October 22, 2010

The alienation of theology.

"Tracing the history of that alienation of theology from its own habits of thought would mean identifying how it came about that Christian theology began to argue for its own possibility without appeal to any specific Christian content. In his quite wonderful study At the Origins of Modern Atheism, Michael Buckley suggests that the alienation of theology begins in the very early modern period, when theology left its own ground in order to debate with natural philosophy over the existence of God. He argues that '[i]n the absence of a rich and comprehensive Christology and a Pneumatology of religious experience Christianity entered into the defense of existence of the Christian god without appeal to anything Christian'. The result of this concession, Buckley suggests, was the production of 'an emancipated philosophy which eventually negated all religion'. And so, '[a]s theology generated apologetic philosophy and philosophy generated Universal Mathematics and Universal Mechanics, and as these in their co-opted theology to become foundations of theistic assertions, theology itself became a disciplina otiosa in the justification and establishment of its own subject matter'. ... Far from ensuring the survival of Christian theology in the face of challenges to its plausability, the relinquishment of specifically Christian doctrine in favour of generic theism in fact hastened its demise."

- Dr. John Webster,
Confessing God, pg. 18.

In short, the above quote is spot-on. As a philosophy major during my time as an undergraduate, I have seen firsthand the fruits of Christianity seeking to justify its existence via Christian philosophy and apologetics. Still, I wonder if there is any way to agree with the critique Dr. Webster has given without falling into certain (negative) reactionary aspects of postliberal theology.

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