Why Seminaries Need Scientists, Artists, Economists and Athletes on Staff
If I’m understanding him right theologian and philosopher H. Evan Runner – in his book The Relation of the Bible to Learning (p75-77) - makes the point that one of the ways the antithesis (the opposing force at work against God’s creationally ordained ‘thesis’) works to keep us from engaging the fullness of God’s truth is by separating things. The Word of God, in his thinking, is a unified, integral thing: One. And when we lose sight of this fact, we set ourselves up for idolatry. The Greeks philosophically separated body and soul and a less-than-true dualism resulted. Scientists draw clear lines around their sphere of truth seeking, and in so doing, set themselves up for an idolatrous short fall.
Runner quotes Philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd in this regard, “It is impossible to establish a line of demarcation between philosophy and science in order to emancipate the latter from the former. Science cannot be isolated in such a way as to give it a completely independent sphere of investigation and any attempt to do so cannot withstand serious critique. It would make sense to speak of the autonomy of the special sciences if, and only if, a special science could actually investigate a specific aspect of temporal reality without theoretically considering its coherence with other aspects. No scientific thought, however, is possible in such isolation ‘with closed shutters.’ Scientific thought is constantly confronted with the temporal coherence of meaning among the modal aspects of reality, and cannot escape from following a transcendental Idea of this coherence…Fundamentally, that is the reason that we must have an integral development of both philosophy and all the special sciences out of their common religious starting-point in the Word-revelation of the Truth.” (77)
My University of Alberta emeritus physics prof uncle once told me that if you go back far enough, all physicists are philosophers. Makes total sense if Truth is the author of all truth.
Now I understand that seminaries cannot fully teach all of God’s truth in all of the scientific spheres to their students. It would be an impossible task. But by choosing to focus solely/primarily on just one or two of God’s revelatory spheres – the Bible and church tradition – are they not risking a ‘closed shuttered’ isolationism that could lead to idolatry?
Didn’t the Bible’s Pharisees fall into this exact trap? And didn’t Jesus (the one who surely knew that all things fit together and have one source) nail them on their idolatry when he said, “You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.” Jn 5:39-40 MSG
I think Jesus is standing and speaking before us, right now – in the spheres of science, business, the arts, sport, etc… But are we seeing/hearing him? And how can people in the pew learn to see/hear him unless their preachers are looking, listening and preaching accordingly?