I got back last night from the third LOGOS conference (and there’s more to come), which was hosted this year by Notre Dame and organized by Mike Rea and his team as part of the Analytic Theology Project. The general theme was Scripture, Revelation, and Canon, and more specifically, the question was posed whether (very roughly, cut me some slack here) the methods analytic philosophers apply when doing, for relevant example, philosophical theology, can be fruitfully applied in broader horizons within theology, especially to the more specific topics of the conference.
An example of this kind of research project can be found in Crisp and Rea’s _Analytic Theology: New Essays in Philosophical Theology. (As far as I know, Mike Rea coined the term.) In his key note speech William J. “Billy” Abraham issued a grave but friendly challenge to the project of analytic theology. It included a raft of challenges facing analytic theologians (I’ll see if I can’t get Billy to put up a draft). He was explicit that he was not at all suggesting that these challenges couldn’t be met–in fact he seemed to be optimistic about it–but they are still bridges that must be crossed on the way to building a viable analytic theology. I think many of them have in fact already been met in the process of developing the philosophical theology of the last few decades. I’ll wait to comment more on that until I can see if I can get a draft of Billy’s paper. But I think the main challenge is this–and this may overlap considerably with Billy’s concerns.
Analytic philosophers have made great strides in their treatment of core theological issues such as the trinity and incarnation. But it is time to branch out to concerns which might be even more complex in a way: revelation, inspiration, the normativity of tradition, and the individuation of ecclesial bodies. Swinburne is the only analytic philosopher/theologian who has treated any of these issues in much detail that I can think of (please post other instances you are aware of). Most analytic philosophers reject flat-footed verbal plenary inspiration, but what do they put in its place? These are the sorts of questions which were treated at LOGOS and which need to be treated in the next several decades of analytic theology.
[MM: See William Abraham’s Turning Philosophical Water into Theological Wine]
I’d like to congratulate my wonderful colleague Bob Roberts on becoming the next Plantinga fellow at the Center for Philosophy of Religion at Notre Dame, directed by Mike Rea.
Bob is an excellent choice and we are thrilled for him. Bob does really interesting work on emotions and especially their connection to normativity. I believe he’ll be completing a book project on emotions while there.
I’m especially glad he got it, as I’ll be there as well on a skeptical theism fellowship as part of a really exciting project they are working on with help from the Templeton Foundation.