Contextual Approaches in the Dialogue between Theology and Science and their Implications for Understanding the Development of Doctrine
Edwin El-Mahassni, March 2016.
Edwin El-Mahassni is a PhD student with Flinders University researching the application of models from the philosophy of science to the development of doctrine. He also holds a MSc (Hons) and PhD in pure mathematics.
The dialogue concerning Christian theology as a science is not new. However, it is only relatively recently that the importance of the context within which theology is conducted has been discussed. Previous philosophical rendezvous between science and theology are recalled, noting the characteristics they share; in particular those that consider context and approaches that go beyond foundationalism. Recent arguments for theology being viewed as a science are recalled and described. Though early attempts focused on approaches employing foundationalism, more nuanced techniques which discuss contextual factors have lately been expounded. Various works from the philosophy of science are used to demonstrate the benefit of context for thinking of theology as a science. Emphasis on the way this shift to a more holistic approach to ‘scientific theology’ impacts our understanding of the development of Christian doctrine is also provided.
Scientific theology, foundationalism, contextual approaches, philosophy of science, development of Christian doctrine