Leuven Encounters in Systematic Theology IX: Mediating Mysteries, Understanding Liturgies, October 23-26, Leuven, Belgium
Broad Sacramentality, Broad and Generous Liturgies: David Brown and James K.A. Smith
- In the first two of three “Cultural Liturgies” volumes (2009, 2013), James K.A. Smith “employ[s] the term liturgy in a broad and generous sense.”(2009: 86) The designation “broad,” in this context, calls to mind the work of David Brown, who, five years prior and over the course of three volumes (2004, 2007, 2008), has argued for a broad sacramentality. Considering these works, as well as Brown and Smith’s larger corpora, I will summarize and compare their respective projects with special attention being given to their notions of revelation, interpretation and discipleship. I will then argue that Brown might resource Smith’s project; more specifically, that Brown’s “hermeneutics of Pentecost and crib” might address Smith’s call for a “special hermeneutic” (i.e., a supplement to his more general creational hermeneutic), with Brown’s notion of revelation and change providing a more robust and theologically rich context for reading, and critiquing, Smith.
Exploring the Possibility of an Imaginative Natural Theology: Considering Alister McGrath, Anthony Monti and T.J. Gorringe
- With the recent publication of The Oxford Handbook of Natural Theology, it is fair to say that there is a renewed interest in natural theology, and not just in the realm of analytical philosophy. Several have called for an imaginative approach, Alister McGrath among them. Following T.F. Torrance, McGrath has cast a new vision for natural theology, one that presupposes the Christian view of the world. Along these same lines, Anthony Monti has argued that art has the potential to suggest, point to and reveal the Trinitarian God. Others have followed suit, often implicitly and unwittingly. I shall argue, however, that McGrath and Monti, misunderstand Barth, and fail to deliver a Barth-approved natural theology. T.J. Gorringe’s recent efforts will then be considered as having espoused something more consistent with Barth’s theology. That said, it is no natural theology. I will suggest, then, that one must choose between Barth and natural theology, imaginative or otherwise, a position that begs the question: Is a non-Barthian imaginative natural theology possible, and if so, what form might it take?
What is Natural Theology?: Definitions, Alternate Designations and the Question of Clarity
- What is natural theology? Definitions abound, and each definition relies upon one or more prior definitions, related concepts, and conceptual relationships, and this is to say nothing of those who advocate various alternate designations. Over and against those who ignore or embrace a plurality of definitions, as well as those who propose various alternate designations, I shall argue that the designation “natural theology” should be retained, but not without an accompanying essentialist (i.e., sine qua non) definition, one that allows for a plurality of interdisciplinary efforts with their own discipline specific, supra definitions and methods. Various approaches will be considered, compared and evaluated in an effort to answer the question with which we began.