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At the Dawn of ‘Practice’ or Re-thinking the Nature and Role of Theology and Doctrine in the Church

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‭Are theology and doctrine the names of the church’s life of worship and proclamation, or are they their foundations? Is it acceptable theologically to develop an understanding of theology and doctrine that would completely subordinate beliefs to practices to the point of completely functionalizing beliefs and turn theology and doctrine to mere way of life? In this paper, I address these important questions by displaying two attempts at understanding the nature and role of theology and doctrine. The first approach is exemplified in Kevin Vanhoozer’s proposal in The Drama of Doctrine, and Anthony Thiselton’s proposal in The Hermeneutics of Doctrine, while, the second approach is exemplified in Reinhard Hütter’s proposal in his valuable book Suffering Divine Things. By critiquing Vanhoozer’s and Thiselton’s approaches and siding with Hütter’s, I hope to stress that the accuracy of our understanding of the nature and role of theology and doctrine depends to a great and substantial extent on 1) how one understands theology’s relation to its primary subject matter, God, and 2) on the extent of the theologian’s belief that God, not just human talk about God, is the proper object of theology.‬

Affiliations: 1: Hartford Seminary, Hartford, CT, USA


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