In this creative contribution to the doctrine of revelation, Clark seeks to develop and articulate an understanding of God's self-disclosure located in the participation of the ecclesial community in the trinitarian life of God. Clark takes as his point of departure Karl Barth's doctrine of the Word of God. Barth has impressed upon theology that revelation is primarily an event in which God establishes relationship with humanity in an act of his sovereign freedom. But what is the role of human participation in this revelatory event? It is here that Barth's account is less than satisfactory, and this shortcoming points to the principal theme of the book. Addressing this theme, Clark engages with the work of Michael Polanyi, whose philosophy provides a potent resource for the task. One profoundly innovative aspect of Polanyi's work is his theory of tacit knowledge, which demonstrates how articulate knowledge (conceptual understanding) arises out of knowledge established through practical and intrinsically imaginative participation in particular practices or "life-ways." Although we depend upon such knowledge, we can articulate it only in part. We know more than we can tell. This insight has profound implications for the doctrine of revelation. It suggests that knowledge of God is necessarily bound up with the various practices of the church in which Christians are imaginatively engaged and through which God makes himself known. It also suggests that such knowledge cannot be fully articulated. Clark does not deny the possibility or the importance of doctrinal formulation, but he does issue a reminder that theological statements are only possible because God gives himself to be known in the life and practices of the church. This substantial work provides important and original proposals for rearticulating the doctrine of revelation.
Endorsements & Reviews-
"At a time when so much theology swings between a wooden cerebralism on the one hand, and undisciplined fantasy on the other, a thesis such as this is sorely needed." --Jeremy Begbie, Ridley Hall, Cambridge and the University of St Andrews
"Acts of discovery and insights of revelation, it has long been assumed, are two entirely separate phenomena: the imaginative power of human minds provides us with the former and God provides us with the latter. Enlarging upon Michael Polanyi's seminal understanding of 'tacit knowing,' the author brilliantly demonstrates the integral involvement of human imagination in the revelatory event. This book represents a major contribution and challenge to both philosophical and theological scholarship in an area that cries out for serious rethinking. Tony Clark represents one of the 'rising stars' in Polanyian scholarship." --Walter B. Mead, President, The Polanyi Society
"Thoughtful, scholarly, and imaginative contributions are made to quite large and important theological tasks." --Michael Partridge, School of Divinity, St. Mary's College, University of St. Andrews
Tony Clark Trevor A. Hart
Tony Clark is Assistant Professor of Ethics at Friends University and was previously Teaching Fellow at the University of St Andrews, Scotland.