Hello, Daniel. You asked:
“This seems right, do you have a brief bibliography in mind?”
I meant something fairly simple. If someone is going to claim that he represents a “Wesleyan” as opposed to a “Calvinist” tradition (a distinction that used to be common on BioLogos back when it was run by two Nazarenes, Falk and Giberson), then that person shouldn’t be vaguely owning a “Wesleyan” tradition without actually reading what Wesley had to say (on the issues under discussion); and if someone claims to be coming from a “Lutheran” position, I’d expect such a person to guide me through some passages of Luther and Melanchthon; and if they say they speak for the “Reformed” tradition, but then bash natural theology, I expect them to respond, when I point out a passage in Calvin’s Institutes where he endorses a limited natural theology, with some explanation of that passage in light of Calvin’s other writings, or in light of the writings of Knox or some classical Dutch theologians.
I don’t want to harp on BioLogos, but I noticed that frequently when the scientists there talked about the views of “theologians” they almost always meant living (and often quite maverick) representatives of their traditions, rather than the Greek Fathers, the Latin Fathers, the Scholastics, Luther, Calvin, Cranmer, Hooker, etc. I can’t remember how many times BioLogos (and ASA) scientists have dropped the word “providential” as if its meaning is obvious, without locating their usage in the writings of traditional theologians. Aquinas wrote two massive volumes on providence within the Summa Contra Gentiles, so obviously it is a topic that requires some nuance, but I can’t find any discussion of the word’s meaning in the BioLogos or ASA folks; it is invoked without being explained.
Obviously Augustine’s writings such as The City of God are important (if I were dictator of the world, I would make the reading of that whole book required in all Catholic and Protestant seminaries), and Aquinas’s Summas (which surely deserve to be read at least in part, and not just by Catholics), and the key writings of Luther and Calvin, and parts of Hooker’s Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, and Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy. I’m sure Jon Garvey could supply a richer list of “must-reads” among the non-living theologians.
I realize that active scientists don’t have time to become full-time theologians as well, so I’m not blaming scientists for not knowing all of classical theology intimately, but at least, when evangelical scientists rely on generalities about what Christianity teaches, it would be helpful if they relied on generalities coming from the giants of theology, rather than from modern writers whose allegiance to classical Christian tradition is in some cases in doubt.
I taught Greek in a Protestant seminary for about 7 years, and I was surprised at how little knowledge of even classical Protestant theology was given to students there, let alone of the Scholastics or Church Fathers. I would have thought that courses on Luther and Calvin’s writings would be required for all, since even the non-Lutheran and non-Calvinist Protestant traditions were shaped by reaction to Luther and Calvin. But most of the courses covered the historical stuff only through secondary, modern authors, and most of the courses about theology were over the quarrels among currently living theologians. Yet at one time the Protestant tradition was very historically-minded; Luther, Calvin, and all the major Reformers read massively in the Fathers. Somehow the idea has arisen that to be a good Protestant theologian you have to know your Bible and the debates of the last 50 years, but not much else. I think that many evangelical scientists, when they consult with theologians about theology/science questions, are consulting theologians of this modern style, and I think it misleads them.