Outrageous Idea 5: The Positive Contributions of Theological Context

Are there positive contributions to be offered by a theological context?

George Marsden responds with a hearty yes.  Why?  Because he believes (or should I say thinks, understands, or perceives):

Scholars do not operate in a vacuum, but rather within the frameworks of their communities, traditions, commitments, and beliefs.  Their scholarship, even when specialized, develops within a larger picture of reality.  So we must ask:  What is in that larger picture?  Is there a place for God?  If so does God’s presence make any difference to the rest of the picture? … (p.83).

Marsden warns the Christian scholar not “to reduce our subjects to just their theological dimensions.  (By theology here I do not mean primarily the discipline of theology, but rather any serious thought about God and God’s revelation according to a particular religious tradition)” (p.83).  According to Marsden, when Christians take “theological principles” as “just one point of reference,”

[they] can do the bulk of their academic work according to the standards and perspectives of their discipline, just as long as they are willing to keep in the mind the context of theological concerns and be open to reflecting on their implications for larger questions (p.83).

Any thoughts/reactions?

Marsden devotes the rest of the chapter to developing how “some of the most common Christian points of doctrine” speak into the assumptions and conclusions of academic disciplines:

  1. Creation
  2. The Incarnation
  3. The Holy Spirit and the Spiritual Dimensions of Reality
  4. The Human Condition

Any thoughts on how these doctrines speak into the academic world?  Any other Christian doctrines which you would desire to highlight?

Stay tuned for more on how Marsden fleshes out the application of these doctrines. …

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Tom Grosh IV

Enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa, four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he hosts the Christian Scholar Series), on campus as part of InterVarsity Graduate & Faculty Ministry (serving fellowships such as the Christian Medical Society/CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine), online as the Associate Director of the Emerging Scholars Network, in the culture at large, and in God's creation.

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