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Preface / Antony Flew and Alasdair Mac Intyre -- Can religion be discussed?
Of special interest to readers of Catalyst is the growth of a specific movement of is one of the most, if not the most, prestigious journal of philosophy of religion in the world. Larger in size and length (over 600 pages), few will purchase this expensive volume—but many students and scholars will benefit from reading it.
All of the volumes we will review have a specific focus on Christian philosophical theology in the analytic tradition (whether they make this explicit or not). This book is not only brief but authoritative and readable. The selection of topics and authors is judicious, with a strong Christian cast to almost every section, the notable exception being three chapters (out of 26) on “Non-Christian” religious philosophy, covering Jewish, Muslim and Confucian thought. This volume is superior in depth and scope to the , but of course the editors had more room to work. Wainwright’s “Theology and Mystery,” which is a well written, balanced, and persuasive.
Jumping to the present day, one impressive development in philosophy and theology is found in contemporary philosophical theology.
Philosophical theology combines both philosophy and theology.What is interesting to those of us who work in both theology and philosophy is this: theologians and scholars of religion, for the most part, continue to engage the so-called “Continental” school of philosophy when it comes to dialog with contemporary thought. Now I have a few unscientific guesses as to why this may be so but I will not speculate about them here.Yet in the English language, the analytic school has been the dominant mode of philosophical inquiry for about a century now. Rather, our purpose is to review a number of recent volumes that are very helpful for students and scholars seeking current knowledge about analytic philosophical theology.It is concerned with the validity of arguments, including the notion of proof; the meaning of specific terms and propositions; and in general conceptual clarity and connection.Clarity, rigor, and careful analysis of basic concepts, and logical order are highly prized virtues in this movement. These philosophers follow in the tradition of Kant and Hegel, but use very different methodologies.Perhaps a few definitions might be in order to start things off.It is difficult to categorize the differences between the Continental and analytic approach.Continental thinkers often seek a more “radical” stance from which to view the big questions of meaning, truth, and various elements of human existence in the world (being-in-the-world).Because of this kind of focus on things having to do with human beings, existence, and meaning, they are often viewed as more natural conversation partners for theology and religious studies.It is simply not possible to understand well the theology of early Christianity without knowing the philosophical background found in Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics.Even when theologians seek to develop their doctrines from the word of God and deny philosophy a place in their theological method, philosophy has nevertheless influenced their writings and approach.