Analytic theology provides the theologian with another tool for his/her arsenal. The capacities of modern analytic philosophy (as opposed to the continental approach) are presented to the reader as tools to enhance theological conversation as well as to better engage the complex and mysterious areas of theology. Dr. McCall show how this is done by employing the principles analytical theology in discussions of the trinity, the incarnation, and original sin. He maintains a strong relationship between the two, that this approach is both fully analytic and fully theological. By doing this he maintains the primacy of the Word and orthodox theology for the evangelical.
Dr. McCall begins by providing the reader with a thorough analysis of the nature and character of analytic theology, emphasizing that it is both analytic and theology. Being analytic it employs the tools of philosophy to better engage the topic at hand. Being theology it maintains its intended focus on God and his revealed communication with humanity. This tool is neither set up to replace theology nor to diminish it in any way. Instead it is presented as a tool to improve theology.
The strongest point, as I see it, is that theology maintains its good and proper position. Though this approach may not appeal to everyone doing theology it should be noted that this use of logic is simply taking further that reasoning which is already employed by theologians. Now the logic becomes as precise as does the theological language that it generates.
There is one weak point to note. On the one hand analytic theology is treated as a tool, an enhancement to doing theology. On the other hand it is presented as a class of systematic theology. In his treatment of analytic theology as a tool he suggests its applicability to the feminist, womanist, or revolutionary theologian. (p. 29) Of course, both honest and dishonest mechanics use the same brands of wrench, so this I don’t see as a problem except in relationship to the question of whether analytic theology is a tool or is specifically a systematic theology.
The seeming alteration of the basic definition was a little distracting. Even so it does not diminish the value of this work.
One editorial concern that I have is a matter of language. At multiple in the book there is a linguistic drift from convention. The term “theologians” is arbitrarily assigned to the feminine gender and and is accompanied by its related pronoun. This use defies normal convention in the English language where the default masculine gender bears no relationship with individual sexuality or perceived male superiority. Such an arbitrary departure from convention seems to say more regarding political correctness than academic rigor. It is my opinion that the publisher and editorial team ought be aware of these characteristics.
Even so, the book is useful and should be read by both philosopher and theologian. It may not be a main-stay in your library but should be useful for the development of one’s skills in systematic theology.
I would also recommend reading this alongside David K. Clark’s “To Know and Love God: Method for Theology” as a companion resource. The two books share a common purpose and would enhance each other’s value.
An Invitation to Analytic Christian Theology
Paperback – December 9, 2015
by Thomas H. McCall (Author)
Publisher: IVP Academic (December 9, 2015)