MHT: Principle of Awareness

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

Medieval UniversityWith a metanarrative of developmentalism in a hand, I must now turn to some explicit methodological principles for undertaking the project of historical theology. First, methodological awareness forms the foundation for all solid historical theological work. As Terrence Tilley suggests, irresponsible historians fail not because they have-value laden presuppositions, but because they allow their assumptions to warrant unwarrantable historical claims and reconstructions.[37] Heightened methodological awareness helps alleviate irresponsible history by providing those studying the past with an understanding of existing conversations and conventions concerning the field. Increased understanding of methodological concerns also underlines that methodologies serve metanarrative purposes as well. Acquisition of this awareness incorporates what was attempted in the first section of this paper and stands behind numerous methodology books and sources. Truly valuable methodological awareness demonstrates the need for a broad understanding of methodological and historical approaches. Awareness does not constitute indoctrination into a single school of thought but involves exposure to a diversity of perspectives through reading widely, taking a variety of courses, putting the time and energy into the engagement of methodological considerations, and enlisting numerous viewpoints presented in different institutional settings. Only once this type of awareness has been marshaled can any sort of constructive project be fruitfully undertaken. Continue reading

Reflections on the Institute for Creation Research

Institute for Creation ResearchThe topic of “Creation versus Evolution,” at least in many circles, often elicits a good deal of debate, many times in rather a heated manner. The point of this post is not to provoke strong emotions in anyone, but only to offer a few thoughts about the Institute for Creation Research, an outspoken advocate of scientific “Creationism.” The integration of faith and reason in science has been an important consideration for many American Protestant Christians over the past 120 years. In the early 1900’s, intellectual change on a number of levels was sweeping across America, especially in relation to biological science. In 1925, the Scopes Trial in Dayton, TN made Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection (first published in 1859) and brought a creation/evolution dichotomy to the forefront of American culture. Over the next few decades, the increasingly divided American Church responded to an increasingly secular scientific culture in a variety of ways. Many of the more “liberal” denominations acclimated to the changes in the philosophy of science, while many “conservative”¬†denominations¬†either fought against such changes or (more often) merely abandoned serious scientific inquiry altogether. By the 1970’s, the divide on creation and evolution was nearly complete, a divide that has directly impacted the nature of American Christianity on a variety of topics (scientific, theological, ethical, and political) since. Continue reading