The Position of Theology

With regard, however, to that form of contemplation in thought, which adheres to the words of Holy Scripture, and asserts that it explains them by the aid of reason, it is only in appearance that the Philosophy of Religion stands on the same basis with it.

When we start on a quick survey of the theology of positive religion with regard to these questions, one must bear in mind what Hegel says here. He finds biblical theology to be random, a form of interpretation that does not acknowledge its own prejudices. For him the labor of the concept as applied to creedal statements concerning the essence of God seems to be the most important material for any philosophy of religion. In a way what Hegel then encounters will be philosophy as already applied in such statements. The biblical background of e.g. the Nicene Creed that came to understand Gods nature as Trinitarian will not be important then to him, but only the philosophical interpretation of the Trinitarian dogma. Exegesis of the Bible therefore cannot lead to a proper understanding of religion:

For that kind of contemplation by its own sovereign power lays down its argumentations as the foundation of Christian doctrine; and although it still leaves the Biblical words standing, yet the particular meaning remains as the principal determination, and to this the assumed Biblical truth must subordinate itself.

So he is saying that biblical theology already knows in advance what it wants the text to say. There is ‘arbitrariness’ in the argumentative process. Rational knowledge however goes for the Universal in a straight forward manner, without recourse to this type of argument.

Of course the theology of Karl Barth is not called ‘biblicistic’ by some for nothing. It wants to renew dogmatics from a new and supposedly adequate reading of Scripture. How does such a theology work? And does it meet the requirements that Hegel has set?

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