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Analytic Theology as Confessional Theology with a Linguistic Edge

Scott Harrower
Published Online: 2017-09-23 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2017-0037


Clarity about analytic theology’s theological authorities and their relative order will secure analytic theology’s place at the systematic theological table. Indeed, working on this issue suggests that analytic theology has the potential to be the best kind of confessional theology because not only can it receive and regulate classic sources of authority, but it has an advantage over other forms of systematic theology in the realm of philosophy of language. This paper makes two contributions towards this goal. Firstly, it proposes “hermeneutical confessionalism” as a way for AT practitioners to order theological authorities. It is a confessional approach for determining the relative weight and significance of various theological authorities for the task of analytic theology. This model is warranted by the hermeneutical trajectories set by the reception of theological pressures in the New Testament, the early “Rule of Faith” and the Seven Ecumenical Councils. This historically realist and ecclesial approach for ordering theological authorities is set over and against other models in which theological sources have little explicit theological ordering and are mostly treated launching pads for thought experiments. Secondly, I suggest that analytic theology may be able to develop theological outcomes that are not possible for other forms of systematic theology. This is possible because it has a historical affinity with, and the skill set to deploy, precise and theologically invested forms of language as theological resources. Such possibilities originate in analytic theology’s direct pedigree from 20th century analytic philosophy, and from its affinity with some proto-analytic theologians from the Middle Ages. These points about the necessity of sophisticated uses of language as a theological authority and working within the hermeneutical bounds of creedal Christianity are demonstrated via a case study. The case study makes a number of relevant points for ordering and developing theological authorities particular to analytic theology. I conclude by making a final suggestion for research to do with Personalism.

Keywords: analytic theology; theological norms; theological method; Grillmeier; pneumatology; Trinity; personalism


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About the article

Received: 2017-07-20

Accepted: 2017-09-01

Published Online: 2017-09-23

Published in Print: 2017-09-26

Citation Information: Open Theology, Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 471–493, ISSN (Online) 2300-6579, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2017-0037.

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