Methods in theology : critical realism and the justification of local theologies
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The purpose of this research is two fold. first, it argues for the validity of local theologies. Second, it seeks for the unifying principle that relates one local theology with another local theologies. While diversity of theologies are encouraged, equally important is the search for a unifying principle, or a criterion for validity.
In chapter one, the researcher briefly surveys and points out how much traditional theology has been influenced by Greek philosophies, thoughts and concepts. Through the centuries, theological thinking and categories has been influenced by philosophies of the day.
ln chapter two, the researcher introduces critical realism and its contribution in constructing local theology. By using the critical realist epistemological framework, the researcher argues both for the validity of local theologies and the realism of theological truth claims. ln this chapter, the researcher acknowledges that our understanding of the world and the scriptures are not without our intpretation of them, yet theological claims are not mere human imagination, but rather a reflection of Divine revelation, with an ontological reference.
In chapter three, the nature or local theologies is articulated. The rule of one's context, along with the role of tradition in constructing theology is also addressed. The relation among local theologies themselves and their relation to ecumenical theology is also part of the discussion. In this chapter, the technical distinction between source and lenses or theologies arc stressed, with Scripture alone being the source and context, and culture and tradition being the lenses which in one way or another shapes and influences our assessment of the scriptures.
Chapter four seeks for criteria for evaluating local theologies. The proclamation that "Jesus is Lord" serves as the criterion from which to evaluate any given local theology. A long with this centrality is the indispensable doctrine of the Trinity, without which one cannot understand the nature of Jesus' Lordship, as well as ecclesiology, a community of believers that makes the confession that Jesus is Lord.