Philosophy Can Never Lay the Groundwork for the Study of Theology

Reaction to page 208:

It used to be that when you write about theology, you start by discussing the nature of theology. After Kant critiqued this method, theologians lost their footing. Schleiermacher worked around this by trying to give theology another foundation. He believed that theology is not a matter of knowing but of feeling. He made dogmatics dependent on philosophy.

Following Schleiermacher, theologians began prefacing their writings with a kind of apologetic tone instead of the usual prolegomena. What happened was that theology lost its own foundation and was no longer developed from its own first principles. Theology now had to wait for philosophy to examine its basis and right to exist before it could undertake its tasks. This means that the theologian could not take his stance from within Christianity but have to look outside in the study of religions. From there, he would have to work his way to an exposition of the Christian faith. 

This is an impossible task because our concept of natural theology actually came fromt he Scriptures. Whatever purity of religion we have, we did not arrive at it on our own: it was revealed to us in the Scriptures first. The high moral standards of Christianity were not achieved by a comparative study of world religions.

If we want philosophy of religion to lay the ground work for the study of Christianity, we will never arrive at Christian dogmatics. This means that there is no place for philosophical theories to lay the foundation for the study of theology. Theology has to stand on its own because it is, first and foremost, revealed, not arrived at by human philosophy.


Published by

Jojo Agot

Pastor at Victory. Teacher and writer at Every Nation Leadership Institute (ENLI). MA in Theology and Mission at Every Nation Seminary.

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