RJS has a knockout post over at the Jesus Creed on Polkinghorne’s Theology in the Context of Science.  An excerpt…

Do you think science should provide a context for theology?

The first, and perhaps the most important point is that all theology is contextual theology. There is no such thing as objective, detached, theology.

All theology is done in a context. The accounts that the theologians give us are not utterances delivered from some lofty detachment, independent of culture – views from nowhere, as it were – but they are all views from somewhere, offering finite and particular human perspectives into the infinite reality of God. Each such perspective not only offers an opportunity for insight, but is also open to the danger of imposing limitation and distortion. Specificity of context will make some aspects of the divine will and nature more readily accessible to theological recognition and understanding, while at the same time hiding others from easy view. (p. 1)

Context is not a new problem or complication for theology. All theology has been contextual from the beginning of God’s interaction in relationship with his people. Paul wrote from his context, the early church fathers wrote from their context, … as did Augustine, Thomas, the reformers, and as do the liberation theologians of today. Sometimes the context is incidental to the theological perspective, but at times it is deeply entwined. Augustine was heavily influenced, Dr. Polkinghorne suggests, by the neo-platonism of his day. This formed his theology while not completely determining it. We better understand Augustine if we understand his context.

Dr. Polkinghorne’s proposition (or my paraphrase of it) is that in our day and age science forms an important context for theology. Science is not the religion of the 21st century – but a theology that ignores, or even worse denies, the revelations of modern science will fall short in its attempt to understand and explore the nature of God.

Since God is the ground of all that is, every kind of human rational investigation of reality must have something to contribute to theological thinking, as the latter pursues its goal of an adequate understanding of the created world, understood in the light of the belief that the mind and purposes of the Creator lie behind cosmic order and history. Every mode of rational exploration of reality will have an offering to make. (p. 9)

Head over for more.  And you know my feelings on this matter…


I absolutely believe science should be A context for our theology if not THE context for our theology. I think it should form this context in all ways, but with the caveat that just because science has been successful in one area doesn’t necessarily it will have the same success as it moves towards another area. So it is always A context but not always THE context, I would say.

Comment by Justin Topp — December 13, 2011 @ 8:46 am