Monday, August 16, 2010

Why Theology?

Shawn Warnsley has an excellent posting over at his blog entitled "Everything is Theology." Here is the list of reasons he gives for why theology is important:

So, what’s so great about theology? I’ll ditch the research paper format in favor of the homily, and let you have it in three parts like any good preacher would. If you behave, I’ll even throw in a poem and alliterate the points. Deal?

1) Theology Inspires Curiosity
Theology didn’t earn the moniker ”Queen of the Sciences,” because church leaders needed some impressive sounding nom de guerre for the culture wars. The title was bestowed upon her, because theology in its true form drives the curiosity of the human mind. In the Middle Church, theology inspired churchmen from all walks of life to pursue knowledge of God through His creation. Tony Hunt rightly points to the fact that, “Theology is uniquely equipped to speak to most academic and truth-seeking conversations in an infinitely inter-disciplinary way.” I would offer that this is so precisely because theology predicates most of these conversations, in at least intent. Many early breakthroughs in math, science, et al were had at the hands of men who studied their respective fields alongside theology. Theology properly derived and rightly practiced will fuel the human imagination and temper the ego of men in a way that lends to the discovery of truth in other academic fields. It offers peace in the fear of new and unknown discoveries, it offers creativity and inspiration in the midst of traditional worldviews, and it offers boldness in the face of disputation. In fact, I would say that theology demands we seek out truth through every means available. This quality, I believe, is precisely what some (again, both within and without) are trying to avoid in disavowing theology. Theology drives us to the heart of who God is and that “heart” is irrevocably tied to the nature of truth. However, it is truth that stands apart from humanity – a truth that extends from the transcendent God and encompasses humanity as a member of the very creation it seeks to understand.

2) Theology Initiates Response
I reject most complaints that theology is necessarily flawed, due to its reliance on human reasoning as an intellectual endeavor, because this view misunderstands genuine theology in a fundamental way. Theology, correctly conceived and accurately applied, will necessarily lead to action. In fact, everyone lives out a theology every day. Whether they can articulate that theology in a meaningful way is another issue entirely. This, I suspect, is the real issue behind those that want to attack theological inquiry from without. There seems to be a rampant assumption that an unrecognised or unsophisticated theology is no theology at all. Sadly, our world is full of examples that demonstrate how dangerous bad theology is to all of creation. Before I go into full rant, though, let me just back up and reiterate the important point: you are not really a theologian unless the theology you talk is the theology you walk. Unfortunately, many opponents of religious faith understand this dynamic better than many Christians. There is an inherent national interest at stake in any religious expression by people – namely, the Church of Jesus Christ is a theological entity that transcends nationality and crosses government borders. It demands allegiance from its adherents, and is united (or at least it should be) under one Lord and one agenda. It stands at once in favor of all life, virtue, and truth and against human vice of all varieties, especially those commonly perpetrated by governments. While this is a deep mine to explore, it will have to suffice to say that we should bother with theology, because theology directs the hearts and actions of people.

3) Theology Infers Necessity
The problem with rejecting Theology on the basis of its intellectual nature lies in the fact that such a rejection requires not only intellectual reasoning but also a clearly defined Theology. How deliciously ironic, no? And so, it seems, there exists no prospect to opt out of theology. There is no possibility for the absence of theology; there is only good theology and bad theology. Consequently, I am of the opinion that theology is a kind of self-perpetuating phenomenon. The burden, then, lies with those obtuse wizards of the Word that have hidden in libraries and universities for too long. If the Church has lost contact with theology, it is our fault. It is time for the incarnation to inform our theology again. God’s greatest expression of himself to humanity was in an embodied form. Does anything in life get any more beautiful or nuanced than the loving relationships we have with family and friends? What better way do we have than to live out, to participate in the Church’s theology with those friends and family?

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