Thursday, March 03, 2011

Thirteen Theses on Theolocalism

1. When Biblical and Nicene theological norms have been sufficiently internalized, theology can encourage unique regional developments.

2. Localist efforts to combat modern transience should therefore infect theological method.

3. If a given place hasn't yet made a distinct theological contribution, it should consider doing so.

4. Theological localism means thinking with those closest to you - a sort of 100 mile intellectual diet.

5. What theologians thought matters, of course, but so does where they are buried.

6. This is not to be nativist, but to exploit native resources for the sake of the universal church.

TEST CASE: The Analogy of Being

1. The analogy of being is not "Catholic" or "Orthodox." It is the common property of all Christians. It may be Christianity's metaphysical hometown, but it takes on different characteristics in each of them.

2. The late Barth may have developed a version of the analogy of being, but he was Swiss. His analogy of being is heavily freighted with Continental concerns.

3. Radical Orthodoxy is an effective way to recover the medieval, participatory metaphysics of the analogy of being, but is a necessarily British revenge on Scotist univocity.

4. Likewise, Bulgakov's sophiological version of the analogia entis was a response to peculiarly Russian theological problems, especially Berdiaev.

5. North American Protestants, however, initially had no Duns Scotus to overcome, no Schleiermacherian liberalism to counter, and no Berdiaev to reign in.

6. Jonathan Edwards intuitively imagined his way into a remarkably fruitful analogy of being. For example, only in Edwards do we find a theologian who sees beauty as that "wherein the truest idea of divinity does consist."

7. North Americans, therefore, have unexploited local metaphysical resources that are sometimes equal to, and at certain points exceed, the medieval and patristic traditions. We have a responsibility to cultivate these underutilized resources for the benefit of all.