Journal for Christian Theological Research


Is it proper for the results of science to influence Christian theology? If so, on what grounds? I argue that science can and should influence theology, and give the example of historical investigation into Jesus (historical science) and Christology (theology). Proof, coherence and informal support are the three logical ways of relating data to theories. Abandoning proof, and assuming coherence, we look at the notions of abduction and retroduction (informal support á la C. S. Peirce) as models for the history-theology relationship. Among the theologians, I explicitly follow Basil Mitchell and Reinhold Niebuhr on the relationship between faith and history, and am critical of Barth and Pannenberg. The models of incarnation I explore against the background of historical research are Ebionite, Arian and Orthodox. The orthodox and Arian theories seem, prima facie, best supported by historical evidence (which is not developed here in this exploratory article).