A Scientific Theology, Volume 2: Reality

By Snyder, Gregory A. | Anglican Theological Review, Spring 2005 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

A Scientific Theology, Volume 2: Reality


Snyder, Gregory A., Anglican Theological Review


A Scientific Theology, Volume 2: Reality. By Alister E. McGrath. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002. xvii + 343 pp. $50.00 (cloth).

This is the second volume in a three-volume treatise on McGrath's program of critical realist theology, which he refers to as scientific theology. McGrath defines scientific theology in the preface as "an a posteriori discipline, responding to and offering an account of what may be known of God through revelation, taking full account of the stratified nature of that knowledge of God" (p. xi). So he begins this volume with a discussion of knowledge, how we obtain knowledge, and the certainty of our knowledge.

McGrath boldly proclaims the death of classic foundationalism in favor of critical realism and demonstrates that founding our beliefs on basic objective "truths" or on experience is misguided and a by-product of Enlightenment thinking. Critical realism "recognizes that the observer modulates the process of observation itself; that the quest for truth modifies the truth that is encountered; that the knower affects what can be known" (p. 205).

McGrath proposes a program of ongoing theological reflection that is based on internally coherent criteria. In order to illustrate the activity of this theological program he proposes the analogy of a boat on the seas which is constantly under construction and repair (as per philosopher Otto Neurath). Furthermore, nobody is capable of stepping out of the boat to gain a completely objective vantage point. McGrath very capably and convincingly relates this image of "Neurath's boat" to Christian theology, which exists at present within a vast storehouse of previous knowledge, faith, and tradition. Christian theology can be "consolidated" and "developed" by present-day theologians, but not "constituted" or reconstituted.

McGrath then goes on to show the importance of tradition in Christian theology as "an interpretive grid, a reticulate structure which may be thrown over experience" (p. 68) and the need to transcend tradition through the application of natural theology.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

A Scientific Theology, Volume 2: Reality
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?