Monday, May 18, 2015

Methodology: Daniel Day Williams (PhD Edit)

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Yes, the PhD thesis is huge. But I did state to persons that assisted me with the questionnaires that I would share those results and my research paper over time.

Today is my first day off (other than weekends) since I started with corporate security.

It was very good to receive a phone call this afternoon from my former Pastor, Pastor John, and we agreed praying for my blogging and for my career that the focus should be gospel focused and not productivity focused which I noted was a Western concept. We both agreed that there was no question it was God’s will for me to obtain the Doctorate, even without related work offers at present.

Methodology: Daniel Day Williams

Daniel Day Williams (1969) comments that there are certain broad foundations of the empirical method that can perhaps be agreed upon.[1]  One, experience in the empirical method is the felt, bodily, organic action of human history.[2]  This experience includes sense data, but is not limited by it.[3]  Williams writes that there is a mysterious disclosure of God by which God is revealed metaphysically, and he reasons that human faith cannot survive without interpreting this metaphysical experience that is manifested in all things.[4]  Traditional Christian thought can agree that, in a sense, God reveals things about himself outside of revealed Scripture. Through creation God provided sufficient evidence for his existence, and therefore persons would be accountable for denying this revelation.  This is known as natural revelation and is distinguished from special revelation. Special revelation would include Scripture and the gospel message and therefore natural revelation would provide natural information concerning God, but not specific information in regard to salvation.  The knowledge of God for humanity is limited when restricted to natural theology.  It is not the same knowledge of God that is revealed supernaturally in Scripture.  James D.G. Dunn (1988) writes it is clear that within the Romans text the concept of God revealing himself through natural theology exists.[5]  This natural theology has always been apparent to humanity, and has been present as long as the cosmos have existed.[6]

Two, God is experienced as a power and process, immanent, and therefore working within the world, creating ways in which God is experienced by rational communities.[7] Williams asks that if there is a way of getting knowledge outside of science, what is it?[8] Conservative Christians and some liberals would of course answer that God has revealed spiritual knowledge through prophets, apostles and scribes through Scripture. Williams recommends the phenomenological method, which deals with understanding and clarifying human experience.[9]  For Williams, human beings are animals, but a special kind of animal that needs to be understood in the context of human suffering and how this impacts the human relationship with God.[10]

Three, the knowledge of the character of things is derivable from a disciplined and critical analysis of the structures in experience and testing of the theological propositions concerning God and humankind.[11]  Empirical theology has often denied religious claims that are deemed to be private or related to a church.[12]  Williams admits, however, that this view is problematic as every empirical theology stands within a historical religious perspective.[13]  Even though Williams states that each empirical theology is coming from a historical perspective,[14] it does not mean that claims and doctrines within a historical approach should be beyond criticism.[15] Ganzevoort explains that for the empirical method, Scripture is not limited to its original understanding, and it may be directed to uncover interpretive potential for today.[16] Doctrines and creeds within tradition will be questioned,[17] as will overall religious worldviews.[18] Ganzevoort reasons that for Biblical theology, other disciplines are often used in the process, such as linguistic and literary sciences, archeology, and of course history.[19] The other disciplines can yield insights on Biblical texts,[20] the implication being that empirical theology is a discipline outside of Biblical theology, which can also assist in the understanding of Biblical texts.[21]  Philosophically, I reason that for the sake of religious truth, a member of a faith group, and in particular a scholar such as myself, must be willing to, while striving for objectivity, examine his historical religious perspectives and doctrines, and this can occur through the use of disciplines other than Biblical studies, theology, and philosophy. This work of empirical theology will provide the opportunity to examine the views and doctrines of free will, sovereignty, and soul-making theodicy, and also to evaluate the criticisms of these approaches as well.

Four, empirical theology has a formal structure that is tentative with correctable assertions.[22] This would seem to be essential as empirical theology by nature is awaiting data[23] and reviewing the quality of that data in order to form conclusions.[24] To form conclusions, based on theological deductions, before empirical data exists,[25] would be the work of philosophical and not empirical theology.

DUNN, JAMES D.G. (1988) Romans, Dallas, Word Books

GANZEVOORT, R. RUARD (2004)(2005) ‘van der Ven’s Empirical/Practical Theology and the Theological Encyclopedia’, in Hermans, pp.53-74. C.A.M. & Moore M.E. (eds.), Amsterdam.

GANZEVOORT, R. RUARD (2005) ‘WYSIWYG: Social Construction in Practical Theological Epistemology’, in R. Ruard Ganzevoort, R. Ruard Ganzevoort, Amsterdam.

WILLIAMS, DANIEL DAY (1969) ‘Suffering and Being in Empirical Theology’, in The Future of Empirical Theology, Chicago, the University of Chicago Press.  



[1] Williams (1969: 176).
[2] Williams (1969: 176).
[3] Williams (1969: 176).
[4] Williams (1969: 177-178).
[5] Dunn (1988: 56).
[6] Dunn (1988: 57).  There is no assumption here that human beings existed at the creation of the cosmos.
[7] Williams (1969: 176).
[8] Williams (1969: 178).
[9] Williams (1969: 178).
[10] Williams (1969: 178).
[11] Williams (1969: 177).
[12] Williams (1969: 180).
[13] Williams (1969: 180).
[14] Williams (1969: 180).
[15] Williams (1969: 180).
[16] Ganzevoort (2004)(2005: 4).
[17] Ganzevoort (2004)(2005: 4).
[18] Ganzevoort (2004)(2005: 4).
[19] Ganzevoort (2004)(2005: 4).
[20] Ganzevoort (2004)(2005: 4).
[21] Ganzevoort (2004)(2005: 4).
[22] Williams (1969: 177).
[23] Williams (1969: 177).
[24] Williams (1969: 177).
[25] Williams (1969: 177).

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Methodology: Alistair Campbell (PhD Edit)

La Campagna, Italy-trekearth












Methodology: Alistair Campbell

Alistair Campbell (2000)(2007) also deals with several methodological issues concerning practical theology.[1] One, practical theology is concerned with the study of specific social structures and individual initiatives from which God’s work can continue in the present world.[2] The hope is that this shall lead to renewal, and the source of this type of initiative and renewal can be found within or outside the life of the church.[3] Basically, God’s work does not necessarily always have to be done within a Christian organization.[4] A Christian for example, could be working for a secular organization feeding the poor, and/or working against numerous forms of social injustice. 

Two, Campbell explains that the functions of ordained ministry can no longer be seen as normative for the division of subject matter and the scope of work.[5]  Campbell writes that acts of charity and such, which were in the past on the periphery of church work, need to move to the centre.[6]  I reason that the atoning and resurrection work of Christ for believers must remain an essential element of Christian preaching, teaching and ministry.  However, Brown believes the Bible teaches that there is hope for those in the world who are poor and oppressed.[7]  Brown explains that if God sided with these suffering persons in Biblical times, he also does today.[8]  I can grant this proposition,[9] and state that although the salvific work of Christ for humanity should remain the core of Christian faith and philosophy, simultaneous to this Christians must help in an earthly physical sense, those they are attempting to assist in a spiritual sense.  This is an important and essential way of making theology practical. 

Three, practical theology has a relationship to other theological disciplines which is ‘lateral’ rather than ‘linear.’[10]  Practical theology, by Campbell’s methodology, is not in a linear fashion following a canon of relevance as he describes it,[11] nor is it connected to some type of orthodoxy.[12]  My methodology and approach is somewhat different than Campbell’s.[13]  I agree that practical and empirical findings need to be objective in order to constructively critique theological systems, including Reformed theology in regard to theodicy and related issues.  I reason that if the theoretical, theological work in regard to theodicy is logically and reasonably done, it can contain truth.  As practical and empirical theology can also contain truth, these types of theological approaches may at times follow, in a linear manner,[14] theoretical theology, even if it was not the original intention of the practical/empirical work.  I therefore am not as convinced as Campbell that practical theology will often lead to theological conclusions that are inconclusive and ambiguous.[15]  I must add if one assumes the theoretical nature of philosophical theology that is under review is inconclusive and ambiguous,[16] it is quite possible this will be the same result deduced from the related practical and empirical findings.[17]  A traditional orthodox Christian perspective would be that Scripture, at least with primary doctrines, is not inconclusive or ambiguous, but trustworthy as the Holy Spirit inspired chosen persons to write the Scriptures and what is written is what God desired.

Four, since practical theology uses situation based methods, it is fragmentary and poorly systemized.[18] Since it is constantly seeking out and presenting new situations,[19] it cannot present a comprehensive theology of itself.[20] These are strong words from Campbell,[21] but the critic should understand that this does not make empirical theology useless. I can understand that Campbell is presenting an experimental theological approach in contrast to a theological system.[22]  Practical and empirical theology is a theological approach that examines theological systems, and is not a system in itself.[23] 

Five, practical theology should result in concrete proposals developed to restructure the Christian Church in life, witness, fellowship and service.[24] This should be true for the work of Christians within secular structures in society as well.

BROWN, ROBERT MCAFEE (1984) Unexpected News, Philadelphia, The Westminster Press.

CAMPBELL, ALASTAIR (2000)(2007) ‘The Nature of Practical Theology’, in James Woodward and Stephen Pattison (eds.), The Blackwell Reader in Pastoral and Practical Theology, Oxford, Blackwell Publishing. 



[1] Campbell (2000)(2007: 84-85).
[2] Campbell (2000)(2007: 84).
[3] Campbell (2000)(2007: 84).
[4] Campbell (2000)(2007: 84).
[5] Campbell (2000)(2007: 84).
[6] Campbell (2000)(2007: 84).
[7] Brown (1984: 14). 
[8] Brown (1984: 14).
[9] Brown (1984: 14).
[10] Campbell (2000)(2007: 84-85).
[11] Campbell (2000)(2007: 84-85).
[12] Campbell (2000)(2007: 84-85).
[13] Campbell (2000)(2007: 84-85).
[14] Campbell (2000)(2007: 84-85).
[15] Campbell (2000)(2007: 85).
[16] Campbell (2000)(2007: 85).
[17] Campbell (2000)(2007: 85).
[18] Campbell (2000)(2007: 85).
[19] Campbell (2000)(2007: 85).
[20] Campbell (2000)(2007: 85).
[21] Campbell (2000)(2007: 85).
[22] Campbell (2000)(2007: 85).
[23] Campbell (2000)(2007: 85).
[24] Campbell (2000)(2007: 85).