Basis of Theology - Biblical? Philosophical? Or. . ?

Discuss either theological doctrines, ideas about God, or Biblical criticism. I don't want any debates about creation vs evolution.

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KR Wordgazer
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Basis of Theology - Biblical? Philosophical? Or. . ?

Post by KR Wordgazer » Sun Sep 26, 2010 11:28 pm

Someone sent me a quote from Covenant Theological Seminary (Calvinist Reformed) in which they define their understanding of the basis for systematic theology (ie., theology as a "systematic" listing of doctrines/ideas). Here is what they say:

"Covenant Theological Seminary is committed to the agenda that systematic theology stands upon an exegetical, biblical base. Without names any names or casting any stones, there are people, both within the Reformed church and outside,it, who believe that theology stands upon a philosophical foundation, that one first engages philosophical protlegomena. And there is a long tradition of that within the Reformed tradition. –We are committed to and I will argue this a bit more fully later, the idea that rather than starting with the confession of faith, we work toward a confession of faith. We start with Scripture, we believe in the principle of sola scriptura; it presses in upon us that the Bible is our sure norm, our final source of authority. A systematic theologian is under the church.The material we will seek to use will be biblical rather than creedal or confessional."

I was asked which stance I took -- "biblical" or "philosophical." I decided not to mention that my first reaction was to shudder at the mindset which starts from the beginning with a superior glance downward at those whose approach is deemed "philosophical," and replied as follows:

I don't know that I would allow for only two options so definitively, either "philosophical" or "biblical." The question that comes into my mind from that CTS quote is not to deny a biblical basis for theology, but to ask, "For what reason do we place the Bible in this central place of authority? What does it mean to say the Bible is our final authority, and why is it so?"

What it comes down to, foundationally for me, is this. I came to Christ because He revealed Himself to me in several key encounters that resulted in my conversion. I accept the Bible as my authority because I accept Him as my Savior, Lord and Teacher-- and my Savior, Lord and Teacher upheld the Bible as authoritative for faith and practice. But my faith is in Christ, not in the Bible-- I rely on the Bible because of Christ, and not the other way around.

I think that if I were allowed to define my own foundation for theology, rather than accepting one of the two CTS gives me-- I would say that my theology is "relational." I therefore tend to base my acceptance or rejection of a particular doctrine (such as free will v. bondage of the will, for instance) on whether or not I can relate to it as springing from the holy beauty of the One Whom I have come personally to know.


I find this tendency of Christians to put themselves and one another in either-or little boxes, and then look down on those in the other box, deplorable. I don't think my approach is strictly "biblical" or strictly "philosophical," but moves from one ot the other and back again.

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met
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Re: Basis of Theology - Biblical? Philosophical? Or. . ?

Post by met » Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:22 am

Whenever someone waves the Bible around and labels their brand of theology or their version of xianity as particularly "Biblical" I think of my old Comp Sci prof who, years ago, said this in a lecture. . .
Computer Science is NOT a science! And the way you can tell it's definitely NOT a science is because it has to have "Science' in its name. So that's GOT to be a pretension . .. like in "social science"
Simly, if their theology is so very very "Biblical," why do they have to take such pains to point out just how "BIBLICAL" it all is . . . shouldn't that just be obvious? :mrgreen:

AFAICT, in reality whne people around North America at least say "Biblical" theology, they're usually referring to a certain strain of Prot thought that derives from a certain stream of Reformed tradition - one which, ironically, for the most part, on pretty much all the critical issues, adheres to orthodox Roman Catholic interpretations and creeds that were hammered out about a millenia before they even existed !

. . . and that's what I can never figure out about that. :shock:
The “One” is the space of the “world” of the tick, but also the “pinch” of the lobster, or that rendezvous in person to confirm online pictures (with a new lover or an old God). This is the machinery operative...as “onto-theology."
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Re: Basis of Theology - Biblical? Philosophical? Or. . ?

Post by tinythinker » Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:24 am

This reminds me of something I quoted previously that I had found on another website:
  • "In the scripture, I believe we have a record, not of God’s pronouncements on all things, though there are some pronouncements, but rather, of God’s interaction with people. There is a human/divine combination in scripture. The people are not perfect. They are not even close. Some are despicable. But God works with them, and we have the record of the interaction.... the primary method of extracting data from the Bible in modern, conservative Christianity is the picture on the right. The Bible stands between the person and God, mediating what God has said. I’m advocating the approach on the left in which one listens to God directly, as well as through all available avenues, while the experience of scripture enlightens one’s own process of doing God’s will."
And obviously it still helps to go to the original to see the picture to which the author is referring.

ADDED: I didn't notice before but that linked page directs the reader to a larger more substantial essay.
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Re: Basis of Theology - Biblical? Philosophical? Or. . ?

Post by Metacrock » Tue Sep 28, 2010 2:17 pm

Hey Tiny, Mr. Anthropologist, what about that social science not being scinece?

So when we speak of "physical science" or biology as "life scinece" those aren't science either I guess?

Getting back to the question. Systematic theology is lining up doctrines and sorting out a system. That system can be based upon philosophy, the Bible, both, or neither.It depends upon the theologian making the system.

Fundamentalists always claim to base their views on the Bible, of course that means their reading of the Bible!

Liberals tend to base their theology upon philosophical concerns. Some liberals do both. Perkins, being UMC did both. Following in the mold of Perkins I base my view of the Bible upon the philosophical concerns that I think reflect truth, then my theology upon both of those plus mystical experience.
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Re: Basis of Theology - Biblical? Philosophical? Or. . ?

Post by tinythinker » Tue Sep 28, 2010 3:03 pm

Metacrock wrote:Hey Tiny, Mr. Anthropologist, what about that social science not being scinece?

So when we speak of "physical science" or biology as "life scinece" those aren't science either I guess?
I thought of that. Some people use the terms "hard science" for physics and chemistry and "soft science" for sociology and anthropology because the former tends to use more math and more empirical measurements than the latter. Yet a phenomenon that can be modeled mathematically it isn't as complex as something which defies such modeling, such as individual and group beliefs and behaviors among humans. So if we're going to be accurate we would refer to the so-called "hard sciences" as the simple sciences and the "soft sciences" as the complex sciences.
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Re: Basis of Theology - Biblical? Philosophical? Or. . ?

Post by Metacrock » Wed Sep 29, 2010 11:40 am

tinythinker wrote:
Metacrock wrote:Hey Tiny, Mr. Anthropologist, what about that social science not being scinece?

So when we speak of "physical science" or biology as "life scinece" those aren't science either I guess?
I thought of that. Some people use the terms "hard science" for physics and chemistry and "soft science" for sociology and anthropology because the former tends to use more math and more empirical measurements than the latter. Yet a phenomenon that can be modeled mathematically it isn't as complex as something which defies such modeling, such as individual and group beliefs and behaviors among humans. So if we're going to be accurate we would refer to the so-called "hard sciences" as the simple sciences and the "soft sciences" as the complex sciences.

that's a good point. Back in the old days when I was a sociology major we never had to defend social sciences. In the 70s schools had been socially engineered for 40 years so kids were taught to accept social science and were pretty docile about them.
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Re: Basis of Theology - Biblical? Philosophical? Or. . ?

Post by met » Wed Sep 29, 2010 1:27 pm

See, u guys have hijacked this entire thread over a minor assertion made by some not-too-widely-known CompSci prof at some insignificant little Canadian university, like, about a decade and a half ago that I used only anecdotally So does that demonstrate how much significance we really DO attach to labels? ;)

. . . . Q - does believing something is "not a science" automatically make it worse and less valuable? (Remember, that prof asserted HIS OWN FIELD wasn't really "Science" either. But I don't think he thought Cmpt Sci was therefore just naturally inferior to Biology or Chemistry or Physics or whatever. )
The “One” is the space of the “world” of the tick, but also the “pinch” of the lobster, or that rendezvous in person to confirm online pictures (with a new lover or an old God). This is the machinery operative...as “onto-theology."
Dr Ward Blanton

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Re: Basis of Theology - Biblical? Philosophical? Or. . ?

Post by Metacrock » Wed Sep 29, 2010 2:16 pm

met wrote:See, u guys have hijacked this entire thread over a minor assertion made by some not-too-widely-known CompSci prof at some insignificant little Canadian university, like, about a decade and a half ago that I used only anecdotally So does that demonstrate how much significance we really DO attach to labels? ;)

. . . . Q - does believing something is "not a science" automatically make it worse and less valuable? (Remember, that prof asserted HIS OWN FIELD wasn't really "Science" either. But I don't think he thought Cmpt Sci was therefore just naturally inferior to Biology or Chemistry or Physics or whatever. )

sorry. I answered her question what more do you want? Would you have gotten the joke about the light bulbs?
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Re: Basis of Theology - Biblical? Philosophical? Or. . ?

Post by met » Wed Sep 29, 2010 6:21 pm

Metacrock wrote:
sorry. I answered her question what more do you want? Would you have gotten the joke about the light bulbs?

No need to apologize to me, it's not my thread . . . :mrgreen:

AND now, since this threads hopelessly hijacked now anyway, here's some more answers to the light bulb question:


How many Zen monks does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: None. The master can point the way, but the light bulb must find the roots of change within itself.

Commentary: Zen monks are enlightened beyond affirmation and negation. It takes an unenlightened person to need to replace a light bulb.

(from Wiki)
Q: HOW MANY ZEN BUDDHISTS DOES IT TAKE TO CHANGE A LIGHTBULB?
A: Three. One to change the lightbulb, one NOT to change the lightbulb, and one to neither change nor not change the lightbulb.

Q: How many Zen masters does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: None. The Universe spins the bulb, and the Zen master stays out of the way.
A: A tree in a golden forest.
A: Two: one to change the bulb and one not to change it.
A: One to change and one not to change is fake Zen. The true Zen
answer is Four. One to change the bulb.
A: None. Zen masters carry their own light.
A: Three. Two to fetch the wood and one to enlighten the novice.

from here
... and THE answer (as I heard it as a child, anyway)

Q: HOW MANY ZEN BUDDHISTS DOES IT TAKE TO CHANGE A LIGHTBULB?
A: FISH
The “One” is the space of the “world” of the tick, but also the “pinch” of the lobster, or that rendezvous in person to confirm online pictures (with a new lover or an old God). This is the machinery operative...as “onto-theology."
Dr Ward Blanton

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Metacrock
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Re: Basis of Theology - Biblical? Philosophical? Or. . ?

Post by Metacrock » Wed Sep 29, 2010 6:35 pm

met wrote:
Metacrock wrote:
sorry. I answered her question what more do you want? Would you have gotten the joke about the light bulbs?

No need to apologize to me, it's not my thread . . . :mrgreen:

AND now, since this threads hopelessly hijacked now anyway, here's some more answers to the light bulb question:


How many Zen monks does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: None. The master can point the way, but the light bulb must find the roots of change within itself.

Commentary: Zen monks are enlightened beyond affirmation and negation. It takes an unenlightened person to need to replace a light bulb.

(from Wiki)
Q: HOW MANY ZEN BUDDHISTS DOES IT TAKE TO CHANGE A LIGHTBULB?
A: Three. One to change the lightbulb, one NOT to change the lightbulb, and one to neither change nor not change the lightbulb.

Q: How many Zen masters does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: None. The Universe spins the bulb, and the Zen master stays out of the way.
A: A tree in a golden forest.
A: Two: one to change the bulb and one not to change it.
A: One to change and one not to change is fake Zen. The true Zen
answer is Four. One to change the bulb.
A: None. Zen masters carry their own light.
A: Three. Two to fetch the wood and one to enlighten the novice.

from here
... and THE answer (as I heard it as a child, anyway)

Q: HOW MANY ZEN BUDDHISTS DOES IT TAKE TO CHANGE A LIGHTBULB?
A: FISH
how many pharisees does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Have Theology, Will argue: wire Metacrock
Buy My book: The Trace of God: Warrant for belief

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