Brief Thoughts on Reactionary Theology

In the many years in which I’ve done apologetics, I’ve noticed some groups that develop their theology in a reactionary way. What do I mean? Instead of developing theology according to what Scripture and Tradition says, some build their theology by standing against what another group says.

In order to make this more concrete, I’d like to give an example. Some Orthodox say God is not a wrathful God. Why do they say this? Not because of Scripture or Tradition (which affirm that God is wrathful) but because they are establishing their theology in opposition to certain Protestants that believe God poured out his wrath on the Son, while he hung on the cross. Rather than simply affirm what Scripture and Tradition teaches and then guard against certain misunderstandings with careful distinctions and qualifications, reactionary theologians such as these throw the baby out with the bath water.

The same thing occurs with the papacy, filioque, the atonement, free will, original sin and many other topics. Consequently, I’d like to offer Dominican maxim that speaks to this problem and provides a correction:

“Seldom affirm,never deny, always distinguish.”

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