Last week Oliver Crisp kicked off the 2016 Analytic Theology Seminar Series at Fuller Seminary. He gave a wonderfully precise and clear lecture on the relationship between Analytic Theology and Systematic Theology. Basically he answered the question:
Is analytic theology really systematic theology or is it really just ersatz theology?
The way that Crisp approached this question was to examine the works of three different exemplars of systematic theology. Scholars whom nobody would doubt their pedigree as analytic theologians. First he examined the purpose and project of John Webster, followed by Brian Gerrish, and concluding with Gordon Kaufman. All very different types of theologians, but systematic theologians nonetheless.
In examining the works of these theologians he came up with a “shared task” of systematic theology. Think of it as a minimalist account of systematic theology:
Shared Task: Commitment to an intellectual undertaking that involves (though it may not comprise) explicating the conceptual content of the Christian tradition (with the expectation that this is normally done from a position within that tradition, as an adherent of that tradition), using particular religious texts that are part of the Christian tradition, including sacred scripture, as well as human reason, reflection, and praxis (particularly religious practices, as sources for theological judgements.
What jumped out to me about this minimalist account of ST is that it involves to main claims. One claim is about the task and the other is about the sources. The task is one of explanation, the primary sources are religious texts (broadly construed) and other secondary sources.
To me this seems like a fairly minimal account of what systematic theologians do. Naturally some may have a more robust account than this, but none will have something less than this. It seems to me, and it certainly seemed to Crisp that Analytic Theology does what is described in “shared task,” however it does it in a way that uses the tools, methods, and sources of the tradition of philosophy we have come to call “analytic.”
So is Analytic Theology truly Systematic Theology? As long as it keeps to the shared task, I have no reason to say why not.
See the message below from Allison Wiltshire
I walked onto UCLA in 2006 with a plan. I knew that at the end of my four years studying physiological science I would go to medical school so that one day I could be a medical missionary. I overlooked one thing, however: “The heart of man plans his ways, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Prov. 16:9, ESV.) I quickly found that a weakness that was easy for me to cover up in High School would derail my entire plan: I was terrible at math. Calculus and organic chemistry wrecked me, I got grades in those in those classes that I had never seen in my entire life. At that point my academic advisor counseled me to try some other classes out. So I looked through which general education courses I could take to fulfill my graduation requirements and stumbled into a Philosophy of Mind class. I was hooked! The next quarter I decided to take a Medieval Philosophy class. So there I was, studying Augustine, Anselm, Abelard, and Aquinas. I was doing philosophical theology at UCLA! At that point I decided, I want to be a philosopher, so I changed my major and spent the rest of my time at UCLA focused on philosophy…..
You can read the rest of how I Got into Analytic Theology over at the Fuller Analytic Theology Blog.
So in the last 2 days I got some HUGE news…
I have been accepted into both Fuller Seminary and the University of St. Andrews for their newly formed programs in Analytic Theology. Both schools received very large grants from the Templeton Foundation in order to see how Analytic Theology may help us make sense of prayer, love, and human nature. As a part of those grants, both schools made some space for new PhD Students. Fuller created 2 new positions and St. Andrews created 6. Both schools are among the best schools in theology. Both are cutting edge when it comes to Analytic theology. It is such a blessing to be accepted into both of these great schools.
I’ll be announcing which school I’ve decided to go to really soon!
Oliver Crisp, the theologian who has been a sort of model for my own theology, offers some advice for those thinking about becoming academic theologians….
For those of you who are interested in reading this as a cohesive whole here are the links in order….
Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – B.B. Warfield
Part 3 – Harold Lindsell
Part 4 – The Briggs Heresy Trial
Part 5 – Fuller Seminary
Part 6 – Similarities
Part 7 – Differences
Part 8 – Conclusion
For those of you interested in the entire bibliography here are the works cited:
1-Hatch, Carl. The Charles A. Briggs Heresy Trial. New York: Exposition Press INC, 1969.
2-Waugh, Barry. “Warfield and C.A. Briggs: Their Polemics and Legacy.” In B.B. Warfield: Essays on His Life and Thought, ed. Gary Johnson, 195-240. Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2007.
3-Lindsell, Harold. The Battle for the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976.
4-Lindsell, Harold. “Biblical Infallibility: The Reformation and Beyond.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 19, no. 1 (1976): 25-37.
5-Marsden, George. Reforming Fundamentalism: Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism.
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995.
6-Marsden, George. Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991.
7-Noll, Mark. “Introduction.” In B.B. Warfield: Essays on His Life and Thought, ed. Gary Johnson, 1-11. Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2007.
8-Warfield, B.B.. “The Biblical Idea of Inspiration.” In The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, ed. Samuel G. Craig, 241-255. Philadelphia: P&R Publishing, 1948.
9-Warfield, B.B.. “The Real Problem of Inspiration.” In The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, ed. Samuel G. Craig, 241-255. Philadelphia: P&R Publishing, 1948.
10-Waugh, Barry. “Introduction.” In B.B. Warfield: Essays on His Life and Thought, ed. Gary Johnson, 241-255. Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2007.
11-Zaspel, Fred G. The Theology of B.B. Warfield: a Systematic Summary. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2010.