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Archive for October 19th, 2010

The author of this work is quite a theological Renaissance man (educational background and academic ministry interacting with linguistics, mathematics, science, philosophy and Reformed theology) and was the appropriate contributor to the “Foundation of Contemporary Interpretation” series in which the work is a part of. This book in a discussion about the insight of science (and the model of science) as it relates to the task of theology and hermeneutics. Readers will appreciate his interaction with Thomas Khun’s radical thesis concerning revolution of science. Indeed, as a Presuppositionalist, the discussion on Khun’s philosophy of Science is quite appropriate. Readers unfamiliar with Khun or Presuppositionalism will be introduced to the idea that every evidence is already theory-laden, and one’s worldview and background beliefs will “color” the evidence. Throughout the work, there are discussion of theological method models, and whether or not it could be comparable to scientific models. Of course, there are differences, in that in Poythress insight he sees biblical theology must incorporate very vantage points (perspectives, or analogies) in describing the truths found in Scripture. This is contrast to the current popular model of Science which sees only one large “analogy” or “model”. For the nonpresuppositionalists, the book’s discussion about Baconian scientific method is worth buying the book in of itself. Although the work was published in 1988, there are still many people who naively assume that the Baconian method of science is the way (both normatively and indicative of current ways of doing science) of going about scientific endeavor. Poythress reveals otherwise, but in a short concise work the details for those who need it might be found in the works of Khun and his predecessors. Readers will also enjoy his discussion about the nature of truth and analogies, given that the task of theology and science inevitably runs into analogies and models. His discussion of disciplinary matrix (current accepted prerequisite beliefs controlling how a specific field of science is done by the community) and exemplars (precommitments that forms a model for further research and refinement) are helpful. For those who have been enriched by multiperspectivalism (or, in Poythress’ earlier work which he titled, “Symphonic Theology”), this is another work which explores the deep beauty of God’s world and truth, with the inter-relationship of various disciplines and fields of study reinforcing other areas and giving further, deeper insight. The book’s title makes it clear the discussion has implication for hermeneutics and science. But it does not end there–this short work touches on issues of theological methods, philosophy of language, science, sociology of knowledge and systematic theology. The end of the book also has an appendix surveying recommended works from other fields outside hermeneutics from Poythress perspective. Certainly, if more works were done like this, it would foster a greater Reformed Renaissance of Christian scholarship in which the participants are in inter-disciplinary dialogue with other brothers and sisters in other academic fields, yet seeing the bigger picture as well. What a way to glorify God if this vision were to come true!

Books by Dr Poythress,

  1. Symphonic Theology: The Validity of Multiple Perspectives in Theology
  2. God-Centered Biblical Interpretation
  3. Philosophy, Science, and the Sovereignty of God
  4. In the Beginning Was the Word: Language, A God-Centered Approach
  5. Modern Spiritual Gifts as Analogous to Apostolic Gifts: Affirming Extraordinary Works of the Spirit within Cessationist Theology
  6. Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses
  7. Redeeming Science: God-Centered Approach

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