Professor of theology and philosophy will address the modernist-post modernist theological debate
Louisville Seminary | Feb 04, 2002
Is it possible to move beyond the Modernist-Post modernist theological debate that has so dominated much of the twentieth century? Dr. Stephen Ray, professor of theology and philosophy at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary contends that a new approach to doing theology must emerge for the new century. This will be the focus of his address during the opening convocation of the spring academic semester. Convocation, which is open to the public without charge, will be held on Thursday, Feb. 14, at 10 a.m. in Frank H. and Fannie W. Caldwell Chapel, located on the Seminary’s campus.
In his address, entitled The Aphid Herder: Musings of an Unmodern, Ray will suggest that, in this new millennium, there is a way to do theology that moves beyond the morass created by previous debates between two prominent camps of theologians: modernists and post modernists.
“During much of the twentieth century the two dominant approaches to doing theology were the Modernist and Postmodernist methods,” states Ray. “The first method approached theology with a heightened sense that describing objective truth was possible in theological discourse and that real meaning could be drawn from this description. The latter raised the suspicion that perspective so influenced our theological reflection that there might really be nothing like a foundation upon which objective description or final meaning could be established.”
“With this address I want to offer an approach that avoids the objectifying tendencies of modernity, while challenging the postmodern notion that there is little real meaning in God’s creation beyond that which we manufacture. By retrieving the category of mystery I hope to offer a way of doing theology that invites us to once again experience the wonder of God’s creative work among us and that gives us new eyes to see a life celebrating future before us.”
Dr. Ray joined the Seminary faculty in 1999. Previously, he was an instructor and teaching assistant in systematic theology at Yale, a consulting scholar for the Farmington Historical Society on “Black and White in a New England Town,” and a curriculum consultant with the Capital Region Educational Council. He also served as an historian and curator with The Hartford Black History Project’s “A Struggle From the Start” museum exhibitions at the Connecticut Historical Society and the Charter Oak Cultural Center in 1996.
Ray is a graduate of Yale Divinity School and the Graduate School of Yale University. He is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ (UCC) and has served in several pastorates, including Plymouth Congregational UCC here in Louisville. He has received numerous fellowships including the Hooker Fellowship for Excellence in Theological Studies. He is a member of the American Academy of Religion.
His publications include the forthcoming Do No Harm: Sin-Talk and Christian Responsibility (2002), based on his dissertation, Not All Black and White: African-American Christian History and the Politics of Historical Identity (2004), “The Remembrance of Integrity: African-American New England Congregationalists and the Politics of History” in PRISM–A Theological Journal of the United Church of Christ (1996).
For more information about Dr. Ray or the Spring Convocation, contact the Office of Communications, ext. 460.