Per a recent delve into theological methods, I've been challenged to reconcile several notions of theology with some of my own preconceptions. While the differences were not vast, strictly speaking, a real quantity of integrative learning occurred nevertheless.

In this post, let me start with two of these notions, and their associated summary evidences.

The enlightenment dealt a brutal blow to theology. By putting reason on a pedestal, we threw away many of the traditionally held beliefs in the church, and worse, disparaged humanity itself. We are not walking heads.
Theology is faith, seeking understanding. "I believe in order that I may understand" - Anselm of Canterbury

Primarily, I'd like to explore the latter of these. Although, as you may have already noticed, the statements are deeply interrelated.

At first, I believed that natural theology, which deals with what can be known about the existence and nature of God by natural reason, must be a sort of exception to this odd "definition" to theology. And yet, after further guidance, I realized that my enlightened mind merely had preconceptions which were not, in fact, in accordance with reality.

How could this be if I arrived, via enlightenment, at these thoughts via pure reasoning? Well, logic devoid of Logos is lacking. In all things, we must have some basis, some underlying belief. Let's call it faith. In humanism, or the enlightenment, this is "I think, therefore I am" as Descartes reasoned, perhaps summarizing the entire movement. Otherwise put: the fundamental component of inner reasoning itself is sufficient to verify one's own existence. I won't go into the implications of this here, as that is the subject of many other books.

So then, the basis of enlightenment thinking is perhaps faith in the validity of human reasoning. This, on the surface, is fine by me - a good thing. The problem is that the results of this are that we must question everything in light of human reasoning, and that if we cannot arrive at an affirmative proof of a thing, we throw it out. As an aside: What a profound difference to how the world was run in times prior! So then, enlightenment thinking is the faith that human reasoning is the only sound measurement of truth. I.E. (at risk of restating you to death) enlightenment thinking is human reasoning seeking understanding.

If you are thinking along the same lines as myself, you should be concerned that this is not compatible with theology. There are things that the church (much less, the teachings of the Bible) have held true since its inception that defy human reason. How's that work? Because our theology is faith seeking understanding, not the other way around.

So where does natural theology fit into this? To return to the scent, I must reaffirm that logic without Logos is lacking. We can observe the visible world in every way imaginable, but be blind to the divine reality which it proclaims (Psalm 19, Romans 1) if the Holy Spirit does not reveal it to us. We may know every fact about the substructures of reality, or every subdivision of species that we've found, but know nothing of God if human reasoning is our faithful basis. On the other hand, consider this: how much can we worship if we faithfully believe God as we observe creation?

In this way, I dare to clarify the nearly thousand-year-old definition (long before the enlightenment!!) of theology by saying that it is not faith seeking understanding, since any seeking of understanding must have a faith-taken basis. Theology then, is the faith of the Christian, seeking understanding.