Philosophy and Theology


In my most recent post on Tillich’s doctrine of God, one of my undergrad professors made a concise and insightful comment regarding the relationship between philosophy and theology.  I thought that it was so good it deserved a separate post.  Regarding using philosophy in theological work he writes:

As for alien philosophy: If we want to communicate with our contemporaries, we can’t help using the philosophical categories and presuppositions we share with them. The danger of Tillich’s method of correlation is compromise. The danger of rejecting the method of correlation is irrelevance.

I think that there are some serious things in this statement for prospective theologians (like myself) to think about.  One has to admit that in America at least, Tillich was a “popular” theologian in the mainstream culture.  However, i think the cost was too great in his work. 

So, does abandoning the method of correlation used by Tillich doom one to relevance only in academic ivory towers (or blogs)?  Must we engage philosophy, and how do we do so?


One response to “Philosophy and Theology

  1. Derek — I think the use of philosophical categories and tools in theology is more than a necessary evil. Philosophy is and should be the servant of theology, as it was for St. Paul, perhaps. If the categories are mistaken, then by all means revise them. The fathers of ancient and modern philosophy sought to create a way of thinking in general, not about philosophy, but about anything. Maybe this is too obvious or simplistic, but I have a hard time seeing the conflict. Maybe you can point out some of the problematic areas.

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