Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 155:619 (Jul 1998)
Article: Periodical Reviews
Author: Anonymous


Periodical Reviews

By the Faculty and Library Staff of

Dallas Theological Seminary

Robert D. Ibach, Editor

“The Scientific Structure of Theology: Imre Lakatos, Method and Demarcation,” Greg Peterson, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 50 (1998): 22-31.

Considered the queen of the sciences in medieval academies, theology has long been deposed in popular opinion. The growth and success of the physical sciences has conferred on them exclusive right to the term “science,” while theology has been relegated by many to the ash heap of intellectual history with the likes of phrenology and astrology. Theologians and biblical scholars reared in the bunker mentality of theology’s alienation from secular academia may be surprised, therefore, to find theologians and theologically minded philosophers actually pondering the scientific status of theology. T. F. Torrance and Wolfhart Pannenberg are two examples of thinkers who refuse to accept theology’s intellectual banishment, and seek to demonstrate that theology is indeed a science in either method, subject matter, or both.

Peterson examines the question of theology’s scientific status and concludes that theology is indeed a science insofar as it adheres to the “research program” method of Imre Lakatos. A philosopher of science, Lakatos says the scientific enterprise consists of a hard core, positive and negative heuristics, and auxiliary hypotheses. However, appraisal of theology’s status as a science must be tempered, Peterson suggests, by the realization that its subject matter presents challenges to scientific analysis: “It may be, too, that the nature of the data, the higher order character of theology, ultimately prevents theology from being a good science, much as the higher order character of social sciences forces similar problems on them” (p. 29).

So then, is theology a science or not? The Lakatosian analysis pursued by Peterson and others makes clear that the answer cannot be an unqualified no.

Jefferson P. Webster

“What Is Contemplative Spirituality and Why Is It Dangerous? A Review of Brennan Manning’s The Signature of Jesus,” John Caddock, Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society 10 (Autumn 1997): 3-25.

In a book called The Signature of Jesus, Brennan Manning, a Franciscan priest, is promoting what he calls “paschal spirituality,” spirituality supposedly centered on the life,

death, and resurrection of Christ. A more accurate term for Manning’s approach, according to Caddock, is “contemplative spirituality....

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