Another Case for Theology

In an attempt to present an image of humility, church leaders often downplay the importance of theology by making statements like “I am not a theologian but…” The fatal flaw in this line of reasoning is that EVERY aspect of the Christian life testifies to one’s theology. I wrote about that here. In fact, to be a follower of Christ is to be a theologian because belief in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ depends on one’s theology, which serves as the foundation of belief and practice. Therefore, in order for us to remain faithful to the nature of what it means to be a Christ-follower, we must understand and appreciate the ways in which our deliberative (what we wrestle with) theology and embedded (what’s implicit in our churches) theology overlap, interact, and influence our theological reflection and research…and preaching (in word or deed)!

It is also important to note that theologians do not function on an “island.” To examine the Sacred Text is to engage in the philosophical arts with an understanding that while the Bible is very much a revelation, it is also a book of reason that speaks to men and women in the present context. Goodman argues that although the Bible is a “closed-book” outside of religious circles, it remains “wide-open” in literary circles. In fact, it is believed that the Bible influenced Shakespeare more than any other text with the exception of ancient Greek literature! Thus, Bible study involves skill in understanding literature, philosophy, and theology. However, theological inquiry is also a methodologically oriented empirical science with connections to phenomenology, anthropology, and sociocultural analysis. Big words, but simple concepts if one chooses to escape the trappings of simple-minded fundamentalism. Too mean? My bad.

Finally, and some would say most importantly, theological study must move us toward application. In this way, the Christian theological perspective is correlated to every other perspective so that mankind may understand God’s message to the world today via the exploration of the Bible.

Howard Stone and James O. Duke. How to think theologically (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2006), 137.
Daniel Ross Goodman, “Sacred scriptures, secular interpretations: the Bible as anthology of philosophy, psychology, literature, and religion.” Religious Studies Review 39, 4 (2013): 224.
Wilhelm Gräb, “Practical theology as a religious and cultural hermeneutics of Christian practice: an enthusiastic support of Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore’s corrections of the Five misunderstandings of practical theology based on Schleiermacher’s concept of theology.” International Journal Of Practical Theology 16, 1 (2012): 79-81.

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