Briefly, an explanation of the title: this blog will be an attempt to rationally balance dualisms (or two apparently contradictory ideas/fields), while realising that some may not be able to be rationalised (e.g. the Word becoming flesh/Jesus being the God-man) and thus must be taken on faith. (By the way, there will necessarily be a whole blog post on what faith is and the nature of it in both a religious and non-religious sense, and whether the two can be reconciled or find any common ground or not). Most notably, I will argue, it shouldn’t be history versus theology; it should be history and theology (which is what the title of my blog, Historia kai Theologia, translates from Greek as).
In many ways my programmes of study aims to achieve this balance: I study history and theology (although within that, being a Christian, I’m particularly interested in Christian history and Christian theology). Why study both? Because the study of Christian origins (“history”) cannot be divorced from the question of God (“theology”), as the title of NT Wright’s 4-volume series (“Christian Origins and the Question of God”) aims to show. The New Testament in general and the Gospels in particular are not objective historical accounts (if there ever is such a thing), nor are they purely subjective (to the extent of being a “pious forgery”), ahistorical, timeless theological treatises. Instead of being engaged in what we would consider modern history writing, the biblical writers concern was with the didactic use of selected historical traditions for a theological purpose. The challenge for our generation of Christians, I think, is to realign our convictions to reflect how the Bible actually “behaves” in this sense instead of how we feel it should behave.
In practice, this means getting past e.g. the creation vs evolution, faith vs science, old-earth vs young-earth dualisms. What if the Bible is not concerned with recording history for its own sake, nor with scientific information about the age of the earth and other modern scientific questions? As New Testament scholar Mike Licona questions, “Would it be possible for God to ensure that certain messages He regarded as having great importance were preserved accurately while He allowed the biblical authors freedom to write in their own words and style, even tolerating a lapse of memory on their part, their need to fill in the blanks, or even a deliberate altering of data for theological reasons resulting in a portrayal of events in ways not reflective of what we would have seen had we been there?” As Licona in his comment is attempting to read the gospels as they were intended (within the context of ancient Greco-Roman biography), I aim to read the Bible (actually, a collection of disparate books, as the plural Greek biblia reveals; the singular is misleading) as the authors intended for them to be read (within its multifaceted ancient contexts). And, by the way, I do so because I respect/revere the Bible as in some sense God’s word, not in spite of believing in faith that the Bible is God’s word.
Thus, the main aims of this blog can be stated plainly: I hope to stimulate both my fellow Christians and nonbelievers to think critically and theologically about the Bible; in other words, I don’t just want to be “preaching to the choir,” so to speak, to Christians in order to reaffirm their “confirmation bias”, nor do I want to provide purely intellectual arguments to skeptics in order to give them the false idea that (the truth of) Christianity can be boiled down to a set of arguments. I want to rectify the imbalance on both sides: for Christians to think more critically (because they often see critical thinking as somehow destructive, when I think this stance is more destructive), and for nonbelievers to think more theologically (because they often wrongly assume that theology is only for believers; the truth is everyone has a view or presuppositions about God, his nature etc.). This is not to say that Christians don’t think critically and nonbelievers don’t think theologically, nor is it to imply — by placing this emphasis on one side — that I am encouraging Christians to not think theologically and nonbelievers to not think critically. It is to say that both sides must avoid dualistic thinking and to question their presuppositions (which often cause them to lean towards one side of the spectrum or the other). And the only way to avoid this false dichotomising is through constructive dialogue.