An examination of Phenomenology and its relationship to the Christian concept of revelation.
Alan answers a few questions posed by Ian Mobsby on his essay.
Can you explain why you got interested in Phenomenology?
Phenomenology was a new area to me and one of the modules on offer at Nottingham uni I was attracted to it because of my wider interest in epistemology (how we know stuff) and in defending and communicating the Christian faith in today’s world. I saw in phenomenology both challenges to but also insights which coincide with a Christian worldview.
I am aware that a lot of Emerging Church writers have expressed an interest in this area and the connection with contemporary culture. I am thinking of Kester Brewin and Nic from Vaux in London and Pete Rollins in Northern Ireland. Is there a connection for you?
I am aware of the work of Pete Rollins through Greenbelt festival and his book: ‘How not to speak about God’, which I refer to in my article. My article is in part a response to Rollins thought which engages with phenomenology in a way more consistent with a traditional understanding of revelation and scripture. (I gave Pete an old version of the essay at Greenbelt this year!).
So why did you look at revelation from a phenomenological perspective – what was the interest?
I began to see that trying to build a framework for knowledge starting entirely with the human ego has limitations. its like the film the matrix – we need information from the ‘outside!’ Having said that I also saw that God reveals certain insights through human consciousness which have been highlighted by phenomenologists which can be helpful for us as Christians – eg that we only know anything against the background of something hidden. This shows is that God hides himself in order to reveal! I found this an exciting idea.
Revelation is kind of a scary book – used by a few nutters in the world. Why Revelation?
Ok. Let’s clear up that misunderstanding – I’m not here talking about the Book of Revelation – interesting though that is, but about the doctrine of revelation in theology – in other words how God has revealed himself to his world – through nature and through specuial means such as Scipture ad Christ.