The Three Spheres of Theology

My plan for theologyspeak is to limit this section of the site to specifically Christian theological issues. But these issues come at us from many different directions in today’s world. I will divide my areas of concern into what has come to be called the “three publics of theology”, following David Tracy’s approach in his Analogical Imagination. But I must stress that I am only using his categories as a tool and not in any way employing his theological method as outlined in his Blessed Rage for Order. I do find that most of what theology touches on and calls to account exists in these three “publics”. They are, the academy, culture and the church. My principle difference from Tracy consists in the fact that rather than placing theology in a shared ownership among these three publics, wherein its questions and statements must be designed in correlation to these factors, I will stress throughout this blog that these three realities are always relativized by the God who speaks in and for Himself, as Himself, and above all other claims to revelation. The primary witness to His speaking is in the church wherein the original witness, Scripture, is preserved and attested to in the majority of the orthodox tradition. Thus the secular academy, the secular public sphere, and even the church may and do from time to time raise questions that do not require of theology an answer in which it must be made over into the image of that sphere. It always has a position that seeks to speak from above, or at least to witnesses to the fact that speech from above is what matters most to theology. This means that theology corresponds to these spheres just as it may be permitted from time to time, by the God who speaks, that these spheres may correspond to theology. It is an ad hoc relationship in which the resources of theology may, in some sense, be brought to bare on these spheres. If you are wondering what the “some sense” means, I think that will be worked out in the details of the blog on an issue by issue basis. More on the first “sphere of theology” to come in the next blog. TTFN- That’s Tigger for “Ta Ta For Now.”

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