The Fulfillment of a Polanyian Vision of Heuristic Theology: David Brown’s Reframing of Revelation, Tradition, and Imagination

Tradition and Discovery 41 (3):4-19 (2014)
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According to Richard Gelwick, one of the fundamental implications of Polanyi’s epistemology is that all intellectual disciplines are inherently heuristic. This article draws out the implications of a heuristic vision of theology latent in Polanyi’s thought by placing contemporary theologian David Brown’s dynamic understanding of tradition, imagination, and revelation in the context of a Polanyian-inspired vision of reality. Consequently, such a theology will follow the example of science, reimagining its task as one of discovery rather than mere reflection on a timeless body of divine revelation. The ongoing development of a theological tradition thus involves the attempt to bring one’s understanding of the question of God to bear on the whole of the human experience. The pursuit of theology as a heuristic endeavor is a bold attempt to construct an integrated vision of nothing less than the entirety of all that is, without absolutizing one’s vision, and without giving up on the question of truth.

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