Considering that these will be my first few posts, it's appropriate that I write something programmatic, something to set the tone for my approach to come.
Where do I start, philosophy or theology? Derrida or Barth? This question has bugged the church since early days. Some say that they should have nothing to do with each other (à la Tertullian, “What has Jerusalem to do with Athens?”). Others think they're either talking about different things or the same thing in different ways (e.g. Jean Paul II, “faith and reason are the two wings of a bird”). Liberal Protestants such as Kant and de Wette felt that theology was subservient to philosophy.
Perhaps that's the wrong way of framing the question ... I quote Derrida:
"In all the other disciplines you mention, there is philosophy. To say to oneself that one is going to study something that is not philosophy is to deceive oneself. It is not difficult to show that in political economy, for example, there is a philosophical discourse in operation. And the same applies to mathematics and the other sciences. Philosophy, as logocentrism, is present in every scientific discipline and the only justification for transforming philosophy into a specialized discipline is the necessity to render explicit and thematic the philosophical subtext in every discourse. The principle function which the teaching of philosophy serves is to enable people to become 'conscious', to become aware of what exactly they are saying, what kind of discourse they are engaged in when they do mathematics, physics, political economy, [biblical studies,] and so on. There is no system of teaching or transmitting knowledge which can retain its coherence without, at one moment or another, interrogating itself philosophically, that is, without acknowledging its subtextual premises; and this may even include an interrogation of unspoken political interests or traditional values.” (in Kearney, 1984: 4)
Clearly 'philosophy' of a special kind is being envisioned here. This is not an intellectual discipline to be arranged alongside others but a kind of river flowing beneath our feet, depriving us of a solid foundation to stand on. 'Philosophy' as discipline is a pragmatic decision to reveal the river which threatens to tear away all our pretensions to intellectual certainty.
So where do we begin? C. Bartholomew (2000) suggests that both theology and philosophy are academic disciplines which are traditioned. The starting point is Christ as the clue to both disciplines.