MHT: Principle of Context

This post is part of an ongoing series reflecting on the appropriate approach to and method for historical theology.

Context is KingThe fourth important factor in the study of historical theology involves a wide investigation of contexts. While Berkofer somewhat problematizes a context furnished by “thick description,”[50] the type of context sought here does not involve the assimilation of historical contexts to recognizable patterns, but the engagement of the past—as much as possible—on its own terms, using its own language and grammar. This need for context applies not only to historical events, but also judgments and evaluations of history; in the words of Acton, historians themselves should be “guilty until proven innocent.”[51] Continue reading

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MHT: The Rise of Modern History

This post is part of an ongoing series reflecting on the appropriate approach to and method for historical theology.

Lord Acton

Lord Acton

This was first great Modern shift in historical thinking, coming to recognize that human existence exists within changing space and time.[11] While this fact was first the product of Biblical and Humanistic scholarship, Enlightenment thinking soon became the “intellectual movement under whose aegis this recognition of the fact of change came to be widely, if not universally shared.”[12] This growing preoccupation with history engaged the changes and developments in certain Christian dogmas throughout the ages. Studies which demonstrated problems with the Church’s claims to timeless continuity eventually helped foster secularization, where Christian religion lost authority over social institutions and the sciences—including history—began to reign supreme. Continue reading