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Evangelical Theology & the Enlightenment Project

Evangelical Theology & the Enlightenment Project

One of the books I'm currently reading is Amos Youg's work The Future of Evangelical Theology: Soundings From the Asian American Diaspora published by IVP Academic. Considering I'm going to post a full review of the book for Torrey Gazette in the next few days I'll leave my overall impression to the side. That said, I came across a quotation in the book lsat week that I couldn't help but write about outside of the overall review.

The quotation comes from an important section of the book where Yong is critiquing some of the particularities of evangelical theology; namely it's rootedness in certain patterns of thinking that exclude it from conversing with non-white-north-American theological perspectives. In particular, Yong claims that evangelical theology has embraced certain Enlightenment epistemologies and thus claim any deviation to be heretical or non-biblical. Here's the quotation:

In their battle against liberalism, Evangelicals have highlighted the importance of developing a biblical worldview. Worldview construction is inevitably an intellectual exercise. What most Evangelicals do not often interrogate is how rooted the worldview quest is in the Enlightenment project. As such, evangelical worldview formulation operates epistemologically according to modernist canons of rationality. This is reinforced in evangelical seminary education variously, not least in the embrace of some form of foundationalism characteristic of the Enlightenment quest for certainty thought to secure evangelical claims to universal truth. (pg. 106, emboldening mine)

Because Yong has both an inside and outside perspective to evangelical theology he is graced to see certain presuppositions that many within are blind to. Forefront in Yong's estimation is an assumption that evangelical thought is thoroughly in line with the Enlightenment quest. I have discussed this issue elsewhere, but what Yong is ultimately getting at is a concern that Evangelicals are approaching theology with the questions of the Enlightenment in mind and the tools of secular rationalism in hand.

While I might not agree with Young's solution to this problem (I'm not quite sure either way yet). I can certainly attest with his recognition of the problem.

Food for thought.

Michael

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