(Reformed) Protestantism

In Graham Oppy & Nick Trakakis (eds.), Inter-Christian Philosophical Dialogues. London: Routledge (2017)
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Many of the most well-known Protestant systematic theologies, particularly in the Reformed tradition, display (more or less) a common thematic division. There are prolegomena: questions about the nature of theology, the relationship between faith and reason, and (sometimes treated separately) the attributes of scripture and its role in faith and practice. There is the doctrine of God: divine attributes, Godʼs relationship to creation, etc. There is the doctrine of humanity: the nature and post-mortem survival of human persons, and the human condition, including the Fall and human sinfulness. There are parts devoted to the person and work of Christ: most especially, the incarnation and atonement. There is discussion of questions in practical theology: the organization and function of the church, morality and politics. Other matters get discussed along the way as well. Most of these topics are ones which we contributors to this volume have been asked to address in our position statements. So I take my assignment to be, in effect, the production of a miniature sketch of a partial systematic theology. Even in miniature, this is a monumental task for a mere essay, and a daunting one for someone whose formal training lies outside of theology. The remarks that follow represent my best effort to articulate such views on these topics as I currently hold—albeit briefly and incompletely. I hope that the views hang together in a reasonably systematic way; but, as this is but a first effort at accomplishing a task of this sort, I wish to emphasize the programmatic nature of what I shall be saying. Since I am writing specifically as a representative of Protestantism (in all of its wide diversity), it seems fitting for me to structure my essay in accord with the thematic divisions just described. I begin with prolegomena, focusing primarily on faith and reason, and doctrines about scripture. The next three sections are devoted, respectively, to the doctrine of God, doctrine of humanity (in which I include doctrines about the person and work of Christ), and practical theology.



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Michael Rea
University of Notre Dame

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