We had a visit from a fascinating chap this evening talking about Hinduism. I got the feeling that we could have heard him talk for five hours and still not get a good handle on the whole matter. He explained it as being a problem of Western concepts of philosophy. In the west we have such a fixed mindset that separates theology and philosophy that we find it very difficult to encompass some of the Eastern concepts of theological philosophy.
So if the western world separates theology and philosophy... what moved? Did the church abandon philosophy or did philosophy abandon the church?
I know there are certainly some very NON-Christian philosophers yet I also know that there are now a lot of Christians who would reject the whole idea of philosophy, the idea of a love of wisdom over spirituality, the bible and experience. Is that it? Does the church reject an overly academic gnostic approach to religion and theology? Is it a part of the dumming down? The political correctness which seeks to reduce even theology to the lowest common denominator so that it may be understood by ALL even if that ultimately means that WHAT is understood is lacking in meaning?
Philosophical theology is something which draws me in two directions. Part of me loves the academic exploration of it, relishes the intellectual exercise of trying to grasp complex constructs and intricate models of trinitarian theology or christology. However another part of me also sees the intellectual exercise as merely that. An exercise. Not something which actually determines or even supports faith. I find the ideas of Barth, Moltmann, Rahner, Pannenburg and others fascinating and yet their attempts to define exactly who God is seem ultimately a little pointless to me. I know who God is. I endeavour to communicate with God regularly. I have known God in my life for as long as I can remember (not quite the full one score years and ten I've lived but pretty close) and definitions of what the exact nature of that person are intriguing but not necessary to my knowledge of God's love for me.
So are these academic discourses merely escape paths and distractions for intellectual Christians or useful philosophical exercises?
Far too late for me to answer that cogently!
What do we think?