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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 92, Issue 2, Spring 2018

Beau Branson
Pages 195-224
DOI: 10.5840/acpq201831144

Ahistoricity in Analytic Theology

Analytic theology has sometimes been criticized as ahistorical. But what this means, and why it is problematic, have often been left unclear. This essay explicates and supports one way of making that charge while simultaneously showing this ahistoricity, although widespread within analytic theology, is not essential to it. Specifically, some analytic theologians treat problematic doctrines as metaphysical puzzles, constructing speculative accounts of phenomena such as the Trinity or Incarnation and taking the theoretical virtues of such accounts to be sufficient in themselves to defend traditional doctrines with no need for additional, historical premises. But due to the different epistemic structures of metaphysical and theological puzzles, I argue that importing this methodology into philosophical theology results in invalid or question-begging arguments, and it is unclear how a virtue-centric methodology could be repaired without collapsing into a more historical methodology, which some of the best (but unfortunately not all) analytic theologians follow.