Tennant's Philosophical Theology

By Delton Scudder Lewis | Go to book overview

TENNANT'S PHILOSOPHICAL THEOLOGY

INTRODUCTION

F. R. TENNANT, HIS INTELLECTUAL BACKGROUND AND AFFILIATIONS

From Science to Theology

IT is the purpose of this introduction to portray Dr. Tennant's intellectual background and affiliations. Such an orientation will forward the understanding of his central ideas. Tennant's early interests were neither philosophical nor theological but scientific. As an undergraduate at Caius College, Cambridge ( 1885-89), he worked in physics, mathematics, the biological sciences, and chemistry, his principal subject in Part II of the Natural Science Tripos being chemistry. Certain lectures of Huxley delivered in 1889 called Tennant's attention to the conflict between scientists and the established principles of religion. He traced the German sources, Walter Baur and Friedrich Strauss, upon whose "Higher Criticism" many of Huxley's statements about the Bible were based. His growing interest in religion led him to prepare himself for ordination in the Church of England.

For three years ( 1891-95), while teaching science at his old school (Newcastle-under-Lyme), he continued both his theological and scientific studies, taking his B.Sc. at the University of London and his M.A. at Cambridge the following year. After serving as Curate of St. Matthew's, Walsall ( 1894-97), he took up residence at Cambridge again, now as Chaplain of Caius College, later as Curate of St. Mary the Great, and began his study of philosophy under Ward. There followed a college studentship ( 1899-1902) which enabled him to complete an extensive investigation of the history and development of the doctrine of the Fall and Original Sin in an attempt to bring this doctrine into line with the scientific postulate of evolution. His Hulsean Lecture ( 1901-2) published under the title, The Origin and Propagation of Sin, and his foundational research, The Sources of the Doctrine of the Fall and Original Sin, were the fruits of this period. The former book gives evidence of his early studies in phi

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