Continuing the discussion from Ken Keathley: How High Are The Stakes?:
An excerpt from the GAE book:
The structuralist “philosophers” want to define “humans” according to our attributes. Though structuralists often disagree amongst themselves about which attributes are important, they are all taking a common approach. They are often focused on scholastic philosophy, which emphasizes metaphysics. They tend to be “systematic theologians.” Catholics tend to be structuralists, often drawing on Thomas Aquinas’s metaphysics. Hugh Ross and Fazale Rana of Reasons to Believe take a structuralist understanding of “human” too, often connecting “human uniqueness” to the Image of God .
The vocationalist “exegetes” understand the Image of God as our role in creation, for example, as stewards of what God made. They are often focused on exegesis, understanding what the text of Genesis says on its own terms. They were usually “biblical theologians,” that were following the narrative of the story. Rather than building up a total and internally consistent metaphysical definition of “human,” they were more focused on what the text said. In response to their objection, structuralists would often insist that they too see a vocational component to the Image of God . This is true. This question clarifies: can one have the biological structure of a “human” without the vocation of a “human”? A vocationalist would say “yes,” but a structuralist would say “no.”
“Structuralists” and “vocationalists” fall on opposite poles of a continuum. Individual scholars tended to gravitate to one camp, but often borrowed ideas from the other camp. Still, each camp approaches questions very differently. The divide here is between metaphysics on one hand, and narrative on the other. Systematic theology on one hand, and biblical theology on the other. Between philosophers, and exegetes. It seems the debates here have been going on for a very long time. Some groups find themselves in the middle.