Original Research

Is there any hope for ‘truth’ and ‘progress’ in theological thinking today?

J. Wentzel van Huyssteen
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 38, No 1 | a1792 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v38i1.1792 | © 2017 J. Wentzel van Huyssteen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 August 2017 | Published: 24 November 2017

About the author(s)

J. Wentzel van Huyssteen, Department of Dogmatics and Christian Ethics, University of Pretoria, South Africa


To provide the historical-theological background to his own intellectual pursuit of interdisciplinary theology, Wentzel van Huyssteen tells his story that was prompted in his student days at Stellenbosch by the then young, newly appointed lecturer Johan Heyns. It sprung from the basic understanding and confrontation with the question: How is theology to be understood as a science? The very question became Van Huyssteen’s most basic research question for his academic career, guided by the deep conviction that Heyns adamantly proclaimed, namely that the content and methodology of theology could never be deduced from ‘the truth of revelation’ itself, but would in fact always be shaped by ‘a general theory of science’. For Van Huyssteen, this conviction pointed directly to the tentative and hypothetical nature of all theology. It helped him to put into words what would eventually become the defining character of his own theology, namely seeing the intellectual context of theology as a deeply cultural and contextual venture in which the sciences, politics and philosophy would play a defining role. This role is explicated in the article by focusing firstly on the structure of theological solutions, secondly on interdisciplinarity as challenge, subsequently on continuity and change, and lastly on problem-solving within a post-foundationalist theology.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: A post-foundational approach argues for the interdisciplinary character of theology as science. The approach transcends traditional boundaries of theological, philosophical and social reflection, establishing an intellectual context of theology as a deeply cultural and contextual venture.


Interdisciplinary theology; Johan Heyns; science of religion; postfoundationalism; evolutionary epistemology; niche construction; religious imagination; problemsolving


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Crossref Citations

1. Some reflections on the genealogy of the ‘Pretoria model’: Towards a definition of theological education at a public university
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