THEOLOGY IS NOT A SELF STUDY COURSE

This week wrapped up Advanced Methods of Educational Instruction. This has probably been one of the most—if not the most—significant course of my seminary career. I have learned about teaching—and especially about my own skills and growth areas. I have been given and have developed a set of “starter tool,” so to speak. I have experienced graduate teaching and I LOVED it. But by far the most important lesson was learned as this course intertwined with Contemporary Theology. That lesson is that if I am to do theology then that “I” must always be a “we.”

The first “we” would be vertical. Scripture is the source, but God himself is the teacher. If theology is not done in the context of prayer and worship then it is not theology. There are those who disagree, but I cannot see otherwise. Theology is not merely an intellectual pursuit, though it is that. Theology involves my whole self in a love relationship with God, articulating the meaning of God’s Word.

The second “we” would be horizontal. I converse with the church through time and space. I cannot and must not do theology alone. It must always be conversation and disputation with other God-followers. This brings together the varying perspectives and even opposing perspectives in the hope that together we might begin to see the faintest contours of God’s truth.

Too often in theology we talk past one another, limiting our argument to the extremes in our opponent’s position. There are two things—at least—wrong with that practice. First, a conversation/disputation can only occur—and be fruitful—if we work hard at understanding the other from their perspective. We must struggle to describe their position as they would describe it.

Second, if the partners in this conversation/disputation are followers of Jesus, then we are most certainly not opponents. Yes, we may vehemently disagree, but we are not opponents. We are siblings. What is needed is much more that the admonition to “keep it clean.” Even the pagans do that. We are children of the Most High God. We ought to act like it as we do our theology.

Theology is not—nor can it ever be—a self study program. It always and only takes place with God and with our fellow God-followers.

Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17

The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge…
Proverbs 1:7a

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“Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.” http://www.esv.org/

2 comments:

  1. Recently listened to a discussion between N.T Wright and Anne Rice (see here). Anne Rice explained how she came to know the Bishop through his writing and says:

    "there was this Christian commitment to love in the writing, in the scholarship itself"

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  2. Too often in theology we talk past one another, limiting our argument to the extremes in our opponent’s position. wish you would shout this from the rooftops

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