Formulating Theology In Der Luft: A Critical Evaluation of Nancey Murphy’s Postmodern Theological Method -- By: Chad Owen Brand
Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 05:2 (Summer 2001)
Article: Formulating Theology In Der Luft: A Critical Evaluation of Nancey Murphy’s Postmodern Theological Method
Author: Chad Owen Brand
SBJT 5:2 (Summer 2001) p. 34
Formulating Theology In Der Luft:
A Critical Evaluation of Nancey Murphy’s
Postmodern Theological Method
Chad Owen Brand is associate professor of Christian Theology at Boyce College and assistant professor of Worldview and Culture at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Previously, Dr. Brand taught at North Greenville College. He is the author of many articles and reviews and has served as the pastor and interim pastor in a number of churches.
Among recent developments in evangelical theological method, none is more intriguing and few are more original than that proposed by Nancey Murphy. Incorporating material from new investigations in philosophy of science, recent models in metaethics, philosophy of religion, rhetoric, biblical studies, nonreductive psychology, and a Radical Reformation perspective on theology, Murphy seeks to move theological method forward in a direction that she claims is faithful to Scripture and more appropriate to intellectual currents in the contemporary world, without at the same time being modernistic. She calls for a truly postmodern method—not a postmodernism in the de(con)structive vein of Lyotard, Barthes, and Foucault, but a postmodernism in the reserved, yet constructive, tradition of Anglo-American analytic thought and of neo-pragmatism.
Murphy is Associate Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Fuller Theological Seminary. She earned a doctorate in philosophy of science from University of California at Berkeley under the direction of Paul Feyerabend. After completing that work, she obtained a second doctorate at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley under the tutelage of James William McClendon, Jr. Murphy grew up a Roman Catholic, passed through a stage in her life in which she affiliated with the Charismatic Movement, and now stands within the broad tradition of Radical Reformation (Anabaptist) theology. Murphy acknowledges that her intellectual and spiritual pilgrimage have played a crucial role in the development of her thought.1
This essay will examine the major contours of Nancey Murphy’s theological method. First it will take note of her desire to initiate a new approach that moves beyond liberalism and fundamentalism. Second, it will examine her proposal for a new methodology that incorporates insights from one model of contemporary scientific method. Third, it will look at her attempt to apply this method to an actual problem in apologetics and dogmatics. It will conclude with some questions concerning the viability of her method for a truly evangelical theology.
Beyond Liberalism and Fundamentalism
Murphy argues that the histo...
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