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Scientific Theology? Herman Bavinck and Adolf Schlatter on the Place of Theology in the University

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Abstract This article, primarily historical in focus, explores the contributions of Herman Bavinck (1854-1921) and Adolf Schlatter (1852-1938) to discussion on the place of theology within the university. Schlatter’s belief that theology is a science belonging within the academy is explored via his debate with Paul Jäger on the possibility of ‘atheistic theology’. Bavinck’s similar convictions, it is seen, were formed in response to the Higher Education Act (1876), a piece of legislation which sought to marginalise theology in a Dutch academic context. The article concludes by tentatively encouraging twenty-first century theology to see itself as a necessary subject (on the grounds of its divine object and power to bring coherence among the sciences) within the contemporary university.


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