Discerning the a priori assumptions that predetermine ultimate authorities.

The jargon of secular theologians includes a frequent use of the term “doing theology.” The term indicates basically an existential methodology. By definition it rejects at the outset the view that the Bible is the basic and primary source of theology. It is the method employed by most forms of secular theology, in which is rejected especially the legitimacy of all essentialist propositions; that is, of propositions having universal and permanently valid application.

Along with this denial is found a mongrelized form of Søren Kierkegaard’s assertion that “truth is subjectivity.” Truth is regarded to be, not subjective in a privatistic sense, but “socially” subjective and relative to the conditions prevailing in the existing economic, sociological, or political systems. In methodologies guided by this and similar assumptions, the objectivity of truth presupposed by classical theological formulations is regarded to be positively harmful.

Most advocates of “doing” theology do not push this position to its outer limits, and thus espouse a totally relative view of truth. And it needs to be recognized that there is some degree of correlation between the general thought climate of an era, and the manner in which theologies are formulated.

The crucial issue at this point is the degree to which classical Christian theology is a mere reflection of issues vital to the time in which it has been written. Certainly current forms of classical theology can be enriched by the insights which, for example, black men and women bring to it from their experience of blackness.

The issue becomes more crucial in the case of those who proclaim the end of the Christian era. Such ...

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