Sunday, December 27, 2015

What is the difference between philosophy and theology?

I was reading Hans Urs Von Balthasar's Glory of the Lord today as part of my Sunday reading. In the very first volume of the series which he calls a "theological aesthetics," he starts by discussing what word he wishes to begin with. The word, he says, is "Beauty."

It is a word, he says, that philosophers end with, but that theologians should begin with. This made me think of the relation between philosophy and theology, which some Protestants I have run across (not all certainly, and probably not even most), on the grounds of Colossians 2:8, think is a relation of opposition. Of course, that is a bad interpretation of the verse. But what, in fact, is the relation between the two?

Philosophy is, generally speaking, the attempt to attain truth through human reason. Theology, on the other hand, extrapolates from Divine revelation an understanding of truth—philosophy travels from the lower to the higher, theology from the higher to the lower.

And when both human reason is working properly, and Divine revelation is interpreted rightly, philosophy and theology meet in the same truths.

The thought I had about the relation between the two, sparked by Balthasar, was this: The difference—perhaps even the chief difference—between philosophy and theology is that, while philosophy ends in truth, theology begins with it.

1 comment:

Michael W. Towns, Sr. said...

Thank you for a truly insightful blog.