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NOTE: This post was written by guest blogger, Chris Woznicki.
I walked onto UCLA in 2006 with a plan. I knew that at the end of my four years studying physiological science I would go to medical school so that one day I could be a medical missionary. I overlooked one thing, however: “The heart of man plans his ways, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Prov. 16:9, ESV.) I quickly found that a weakness that was easy for me to cover up in High School would derail my entire plan: I was terrible at math. Calculus and organic chemistry wrecked me, I got grades in those in those classes that I had never seen in my entire life. At that point my academic advisor counseled me to try some other classes out. So I looked through which general education courses I could take to fulfill my graduation requirements and stumbled into a Philosophy of Mind class. I was hooked! The next quarter I decided to take a Medieval Philosophy class. So there I was, studying Augustine, Anselm, Abelard, and Aquinas. I was doing philosophical theology at UCLA! At that point I decided, I want to be a philosopher, so I changed my major and spent the rest of my time at UCLA focused on philosophy. In my courses we were assigned Peter Geach and Peter van Inwagen on the Trinity, William Lane Craig on Universals, and Alvin Plantinga on possible worlds. In other courses we discussed the ontological argument, the implications of the beatific vision for epistemology, how Berkeley’s idealism affected Christology, and how Anselm’s “On the Fall of Satan” sheds light on free will and moral responsibility. At the time I had no idea that what I was doing was actually Analytic Theology.
Before I graduated from UCLA in 2010 I had to make some decisions as to what I would do next in life. I enjoyed doing philosophy, but still had the burden of the missio Dei on my heart. So I figured I should do philosophy of religion, that way I could be on mission at a secular university. But I knew that in order to do that well I would have to know theology well. So I decided to go to Fuller Seminary. At Fuller I took my first systematic theology class, which happened to be taught by Oliver Crisp. What I remember most about that class was how much my philosophical training fed into our theological discussions. It was almost as though all that I learned while doing analytic philosophy served as a resource to draw from when doing theology. Analytic philosophy was a tool for doing theology. This was radically different from my previous encounters with systematic theology, which seemed to take a concordance or proof-text like nature to its approach.
Despite stumbling onto a way of doing theology that aligned itself with my love of philosophy, I still had the burden of the mission dei in the back of my mind. Thankfully, during my years of doing college ministry while in seminary my calling got sharpened. I discovered what my role is in the mission of God. My calling is to equip the church for the sake of mission.
Towards the end of my MA at Fuller I was finally able to put all of the pieces of my journey together: I had a burden for mission, I loved analytic philosophy, and I felt a call to equip the church. All these pieces fit so well into Fuller’s Analytic Theology for Theological Formation Project:
The project hypothesizes that Analytic Theology provides a rigorous intellectual framework for the training and formation of church leaders…. It brings together theologians and scholars with pastors and church leaders to explore the ways in which theology, and Analytic Theology specifically, may be of service to the life of the church.
Through the AT project, I am learning how to best put my training in analytic philosophy to use for the sake of doing theology that will help to equip the church for its God given mission.
That’s a little bit about how I got I got into AT – it all started with a desire to serve God’s mission, winded its way through a bunch of classes in analytic philosophy, and culminated in me starting my PhD as a part of Fuller’s AT Project. In short, I got into AT because I believe that AT is the best way for me to do my part to contribute to God’s plan of making himself and the gospel known throughout the world.
Christopher Woznicki is a PhD student in the Analytic Theology Project at Fuller Theological Seminary. He received a MA in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and a BA in Philosophy from UCLA. Christopher has written several journal and encyclopedia articles on Jonathan Edwards.