Theology : Take Two

Discussion in 'Theology' started by Thomas, Jan 5, 2009.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    1. The Theology board is open to discussion of all traditions. The term 'theology' does not disclude non-theist traditions.

    2. The purpose of the board is to discuss matters of doctrine, not personal opinion, and to seek the truth of what the doctrine states, not one's opinion about what doctrine states.

    3. Questions, statements, assertions, etc., need to be supported by relevant primary and secondary references. So a question beginning "So-and-so's doctrine says that ... " is a statement that needs to be qualified, however, one could say, "As I understand it ... " without qualification, if seeking clarification.

    4. The Theology board should follow accepted scholarly metholology: two sources are better than one, and more makes the case stronger. A position founded on a single 'authority' is weak for precisely that reason — one person could be wrong. (On my course, referencing wikipedia can actually cost marks).

    5. Rather than focus on authorities, it's better to discuss ideas, and whether or not an idea is supported within a given tradition, and why.

    6. Whilst following the general rules of the peer-review method, academics are not saints, however the Theology board will endeavour so long-running and public arguments is insufficient reason to pursue such practice here.

    7. No doubt some will cry censorship. This is refuted for two reasons. The first, and most obvious, is that there is plenty of room on IO to air your opinions or put your point of view. The second is that discussions are often 'censored' by the vehemence by which people are attacked for their views, or the way in which threads are carried off-topic into areas of someone's won choosing. So let's endeavour to keep it civil at all times.

    Thomas
     
  2. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    Stickied. :)
     
  3. Joedjr

    Joedjr A Sometimes Member

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    Hi,
    With all due respect to all who have labored and studied and researched and dug through all the piles of evidence looking for "truth" in their respective theology, when all is said and done, ALL findings, references, documents and revelations are OPINION. Isn't G!D is an experience? You may be able to agree with what you read in a book written by an "authority" as to "truth", great then! Maybe you can't, maybe you can't quite share with anyone what has happened in your life, it's not explainable. As brought up already, precisely with whom does the final AUTHORITY rest?
    Don't we already discuss the foundations of the different religions in their own areas of this forum? If you want to discuss the different positions of the different heavy weights in a particular theology, ( which I think is what is being sought after here) will there be evidence enough to show that one is more correct than another? What are we really looking for here?
    It was somewhat apparent when this area of the forum was started, we wouldn't be able to get to the place ---> AUTHORITY <--- we have found it! There will always be someone who will disagree. It's the nature of what we are trying to discuss.
    I hope I don't sound to arrogant. I'm not that great with getting a point across, but something seems amiss.
    .03
    Joe
     
  4. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Joe —

    With respect, it's not that simple.

    An opinion is "a notion or conviction founded on probable evidence" — now it's evident that many opinions are founded on no evidence at all, but simple assumption, if not actual ignorance. So the more evidence examined, the better chance of finding the truth. Then there's impartiality. Some researchers are very good, but partial ... they find tons of stuff to support their opinion, and ignore the stuff that doesn't ... then there are those who already know the answers, and don't need to investigate anything.

    So I suggest, as a rule, the opinion of those who have laboured and studied and researched and interrogated the evidence have, most probably, a more informed and thus more reliable view than those whose opinions are based on nothing but their own unquestioned assumptions, founded on nothing.

    That's how the method works.

    An authority becomes an authority by peer recognition — because he has a proven track record.

    Any individual experience is questionable. It could be an experience, an illusion, a delusion, a fantasy ... how do you know?

    OK. So you need heart bypass surgery, two people offer to perform the procedure. One is a surgeon, the other is the bloke down the pub. Both men have the same opinion, that you need surgery. Both are willing to perform it. Who do you go with ... and why?

    I think we accept 'authority' far more than we realise. We trust in others. I do not fiddle around with my motorbike, I take it to a garage, and I shop around for a garage I trust.

    I fail to see why, when in every sphere of activity I come across people who are better informed, better skilled, and more able than myself, that when it comes to God, or the soul, that suddenly I'm an expert, and no-one knows better than me.

    Actually, no. Most of the time people air their opinions about religions, and get mightily annoyed when others do not agree with them. In effect, they expect their ideas to become a 'doctrine' which everyone should accept, because it's their idea.

    So here we operate a kind of filter ...

    The weight of consensus, and not individual ego. We look for where the heavyweights differ, and why.

    On my course, for example, I read a lot of a theologian called de Lubac, a big Catholic heavyweight. But my tutor said, "He's great on X and Y, but he's a bit suspect on Z, so check out ..."

    So we arrive at informed insight, which usually is more reliable than uninformed opinion. If that uninformed opinion is true, there will be plenty of evidence to support it.

    I'm sure there will be. But the point is, here we have to supply a reasonable argument for why we hold a position, whereas elsewhere, we don't. It's apparent from more than a few posts that, for example, whilst on the one hand the idea of infallibility is rejected, it's rejected on the basis that someone's own opinion is infallible, that is, because they think it, that is sufficient reason for everyone else to accept it as true.

    I've lost count of the number of 'experts' here telling me what Catholic doctrine says — and they're wrong. What they're telling me is what they think it says, for a number of reasons, some honest, some dishonest.

    So here we want to look at the facts, not necessarily people's opinions of the facts, nor people's opinions in the absence of knowledge.

    Hope that helps.

    Thomas
     
  5. Joedjr

    Joedjr A Sometimes Member

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    Hi Thomas,
    I agree with most of what you have said. And yes for example, when discussing things Catholic, only things that are part of Catholic doctrine should be part of the discussion here. And for this part of the forum that would be true for any other religion or sect of a religion. Thanks.
    Joe
     
  6. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    ah, this helps a lot!

    so when discussing protestant interpretations a response based on some pope or bishop would be completely inapropriate?
     
  7. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Joe —

    Well I'm not so sure ... on the one hand, in a recent essay on St Paul, I based most of my answer on some recent work by N.T. Wright, an Anglican theologian, and even the question was based on a comment by J.D.G. Dunn, another Anglican, and an 'authority' recognised within Catholic theological circles. C.H Dodd, a Protestant theologians, figures a great deal in our Scripture studies.

    ... then there's differences between Latin and Greek orthodoxy over the nature of original sin, for example — so I'm not sure we can confine an argument within a given doctrine.

    It depends on the question: If someone asks 'why do Catholics believe...' then yes, lets keep it Catholic ... but wider questions might call for a wider remit.

    As Wil points out, if it was a question of the Real Presence in the Eucharist, then it's quite likely that a post-Reformation perspective (Lutheran, Protestant, etc.,) would be cited in the discussion.

    Thomas
     
  8. Dream

    Dream New Member

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    Ok, I get the idea, and I think it will be nice if this approach attracts divinity students and some other well-reads. I am feeling left out though.
     

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