Alan Torrance

On the relationship between systematic theology and analytic philosophy

As one who basically shares David Bentley Hart’s assessment of Anglo-American analytic philosophy as ‘degradingly barren’ and as ‘a silly game with poorly formulated rules, which serves as an excellent tool for avoiding thinking deeply about anything irreducible to crude propositions’, and who has enormous respect for Alan Torrance, I was interested in this recent discussion here between Helen De Cruz, Kevin Hector, and Alan on the (blessed and vexed) relationship between systematic theology and analytic philosophy.

And while I am considerably less sanguine than is Alan about the merits of analytic philosophy as a particularly helpful handmaiden in the pursuit and articulation of truth (partly on the grounds expressed in the interview about the ahistorical, acultural, and apolitical character of the way that Anglo analytic philosophers seem to go about their task; I have similar concerns, too, about those who undertake studies on Søren Kierkegaard, for example, with little or no concern to understand or attend to the context of village Lutheranism in nineteenth-century Denmark, or those who write books about Bonhoeffer as if he were a North American version of a Sydney Anglican (as opposed to an Anglican who happens to live in Sydney)), I was very grateful for the discussion, and for some of the acknowledgments contained therein, and for the opportunity to revisit the questions. I thought others might be too, so here ’tis: