Thursday, 29 May 2008

Neat, comfortable theology

At a conversation over dinner last week, a Christian friend of mine was critical of "academic theology" - as in theology that's very neat, but theoretical - not relevant, not applied. He said it very gently & apologetically - 'coz he knows I'm academically inclined. But I told him not to worry. I share his annoyance.
Why do we want theology to be so neat? I suspect it's a safety thing. If it's neat but abstract, I feel comfortable both ways. It's neat, so I can say "I know God", "I have all the answers". But it's abstract, it's not applied. So I don't have to do anything about it. Least of all repent.
The solution is not to have messy theology. Confusion has no value in itself. If God really speaks through the Bible, which points to Jesus and his work, then we can clearly know things about God - ie, we can have a clear theology.
The solution, I think, is to clearly think through how this theology impacts us. Theology must be personal and doxological. That is, it must engage the whole person of the theologian, bringing the theologian to glorify God. Our theology won't be abstract, but evangelistic, doxological - it'll praise God, and call people who hear us to praise God as well.
But that means we will be perpetually uncomfortable. 'Coz our theology itself will keep prodding us, challenging us, calling us to repent. And that's not comfortable.

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