What is the relationship between philosophy, particularly of the analytic type, and theology? A recent book, Analytic Theology, seeks, in part, to answer that question. As I read it I became more convinced that the purpose for an analytic theologian (one who uses the skills of analytic philosophy in the development of Christian theology) is to be of service to the church. It is therefore under the authority of scripture even while it uses reason to achieve the goal of a clear articulation of the content of the teachings of the church. An analytic theologian, indeed the Christian philosopher in general, is a servant to the Systematician.
If the task of the analytic theologian is to serve then the character of the person is also crucial. The analytic theologian should cultivate a servants heart and a character of handmaid as well as the skills which will be used. If reason is functional it can be used for a purpose and by a person. If the purpose is to serve in the theological task, an “analytic theologian” should cultivate the character as well as the skills of a “handmaid.”
There are three reasons for this. First, the bible exhorts all Christians to be servants and to be motivated by service (Matt 20:20-28; Phil 2:1-11). Second, other esteemed Christian philosophers think that we should be servants. As Plantinga reminds us “Christian philosophers… are the philosophers of the Christian community; and it is part of their task as Christian philosophers to serve the Christian community.” (Advice to Christian philosophers).