Ron Highfield’s new book, Great Is the Lord: Theology for the Praise of God , examines the roles of reason and experience in theology.
Anselm’s statement is famous: “For I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe — that unless I believed, I should not understand” (38).
Faith enables a person to perceive the world, and Highfield is asking if it does the same for theology itself.
I will focus on his section on experience.
“What is Scripture without experience? Words.
What is tradition? A graveyard.
What is reason? An iceberg” (45).
Again, he creates an important circle: unless God has self-experience within the Trinity we cannot experience God. Experience, therefore, is not a source of theology but the goal of theology. Our experience is real but imperfect; therefore, our experience points us toward the fullness.
So what then is theology itself? “contemplating what God has revealed of himself and reasoning from it to extend and clarify our knowledge” (54).
And Highfield knows the fullest context for doing theology is the church and not just the academy.