December 20, 2008

Propositions in theology

One of the major developments in "late-modern" and "post-conservative evangelical" theology is a movement away from propositions as the central and sufficient way of enshrining the gospel message. I have watched and learned of this trend with mixed emotions. I warm to it in the sense that over-focus on propositions seems to tame the gospel into information or language games. On the other hand, I am cautious about overstating the folly of propositions, because, regardless of the exact status we ascribe to propositions in our theology, there is an irreducible propositional content to our talk about God, it seems to me, even if it is variably expressed. LeRon Shults, in a post from a couple years ago, talks about propositions with regard to the emergent movement. It gives some interesting food for thought. And while I agree with him that often "statements of faith" serve as means to exclude, and am continuously drawn to an approach that seeks to focus on the center rather than fixing the boundaries, I also worry that eschewing statements of faith, even as provisional tools, is equally a cause for concern.

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