A while back several people suggested to me that the study of philosophy was much more academically rigorous than the study of theology. This wasn’t the first time such a suggestion had been made to me, but for some reason this particular instance really bothered me.
Part of the reason undoubtedly was that these individuals had received graduate degrees in both theology and philosophy, so i couldn’t write this suggestion off as mere ignorance. Arrogant maybe, but not ignorant. Another reason why this bugged me was that it seems like most of the Christian philosophers in training saw theology as “helpful,” but not foundational (for lack of a better word at the moment) for their work.
I’m sure that this second reason betrays my conceit that theology is a nobler discipline than philosophy. Like many fathers in the church, i want to see philosophy as the handmaiden of theology. Like Karl Barth once remarked, theology is the “queen of the sciences.” While i’m not disparaging the importance or the necessity of Christian philosophy, if we are to be true to our beliefs it seems like we must affirm the primacy of theology.
Even though i may tend towards arrogance or snobbery, i get annoyed when i sense that theology is being supplanted by philosophy in the realm of Christian academia. I think that to a degree i have a legitimate gripe. However, i fear that at least part, if not most of, the reason for my frustration is that it is true. It does seem like they have to work a lot harder than i do. This was quite a troubling realization. In a sense, it is convicting for me. Although i refuse to make a “new year’s resolution,” i do want to hold myself to the highest possible standard in my academic pursuits so that i actually live out what i profess to believe, that theology is the queen of the sciences, and to do theological work well requires the utmost effort on my part.