Self, Scripture, and World of Meaning: A Study of the Formation and Impact of Method in the Theology of J.I. Packer and Charles C. Hefling

Title: Self, Scripture, and World of Meaning: A Study of the Formation and Impact of Method in the Theology of J.I. Packer and Charles C. Hefling
Authors: Davidson, Keltie
Date: 2016-04-25
Abstract: This thesis examines the formation and impact of methodology in theology. The Anglican Communion is presently fraught with divisions concerning the theological ethics of same-sex relationships, specifically same-sex marriage, the blessing of same-sex civil unions, and the ordination of gay and lesbian presbyters. At present, theological conversations appear to be at a stalemate. This thesis is a study of the North American expression of these divisions, with a specific focus on two contemporary Anglican theologians: J.I. Packer of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and Charles C. Hefling of The Episcopal Church (TEC). Packer routinely asserts that theologians who arrive at different conclusions from his own are merely “liberals” or “cultural conformists.” Hefling’s approach to theology and culture provides a unique counterpoint to Packer’s, yet his theological method cannot be reduced to theological liberalism or cultural conformism. Using a historical-model methodology, this thesis establishes how the development of theology within culture is an inescapable reality. To establish this assertion, Section One examines Saint Augustine’s De doctrina Christaina as a way to highlight the means by which Augustine employed the best of his culture of learning to interpret and communicate the Christian message. Saint Augustine becomes the model by which we understand the relationship between theology and culture. Section One outlines a threefold analysis of self, the interpretation of scripture, and world of meaning (culture of learning). This threefold analysis is the grid through which Packer and Hefling are evaluated. Section Two establishes the historical context of our authors with respect to the influences of modernity and developments within philosophical hermeneutics. Sections Three and Four bring into dialogue the contemporary context and the threefold analytical grid in order to analyze the methodologies of Packer and Hefling. This method is the means for better understanding each theologian’s approach to the theological ethics of same-sex relationships in Section Five, wherein Packer employs an exegetical argument and Hefling an historical argument and a theological vision. Finally, this thesis demonstrates that one must acknowledge their own presuppositions of methodology in order to thoughtfully engage with the methodology of others. It suggests that this is essential for theologians in the Anglican community if dialogue between divergent groups is to have any success.
CollectionThèses Saint-Paul // Saint Paul Theses