theology is not a discipline, because it isn't a branch of intellectual inquiry. How can it be, when the truth is already "known" by revelation?
I think there’s something in this, but the way he puts that first bit is contentious. And, indeed, Norm Geras contends:
As one meaning for 'discipline' the New Shorter Oxford gives 'A branch of learning or scholarly instruction'; Merriam-Webster Online gives 'A field of study'. Theology as a branch of learning? As a sphere of scholarly instruction? Of study? I'd say so, yes - all three.
Fair enough, although I’m not desperately concerned about whether we do or don’t apply this one word.
Unity would clearly agree with Oliver’s sentiment:
Theology is, in intellectual terms, and certainly as an academic field of ‘study’, nothing more than a fraud…
Science is incompatible with religion, and particularly with theology. it is incompatible because science is the search for truth, knowledge and understanding while theology is a wholly sophistic exercise in bending the truth to fit in with a preconceived belief that the ‘truth’ has already been revealed, long ago.
That’s in the territory of being right, but “wholly sophistic” is too strong, methinks.
My take on this: theology is not the same sort of activity as science, history or philosophy (though, as Oliver notes, it may involve these things). The closest analogy I can think of is with a team of defence lawyers.
Theologians may debate with great erudition, impressive command of facts, sparkling insight and logical rigour – but all of these are harnessed in the service of the conclusion that is taken as given: their client’s innocence of the crime of non-existence.