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Doing theology February 23, 2007

Posted by Cobus in Emerging Church, theology.

OK, I’m not sure why I’m writing this, and in all honesty, I don’t know if I should dare to formulate an idea on this topic. Now I know some of you that is reading this blog, and I’ll try not to use words that is not part of our common language without explaining them.

Now, I’m not going to start of by giving a explanation of the greek words comprising theology, helpfull as that might be. I see theology as the way we are trying to figure out how we think about God, how we understand our own faith in / relationship with God, and how we understand the way God is working in this world, also working through us.

But that said, how do we do theology? In the past people were put in certain categories. I already said that I don’t think those categories are that usefull anymore. But then we have to find some way of doing theology. This is some of the lines I think is important in doing theology today

  • We have to be honest. Sometimes I get the feeling people say the things just because they have to. Honesty will mean that sometimes we say stuff that doesn’t sound great of very holy, but at least we are honest about what we think.
  • And then we have to accept that others are honest as well.
  • We need to be willing to change. God is constantly working in us, and if we are not willing to change in our theology, then something major is wrong, growth become impossible/
  • Therefore, people differing from us are just fellow-theologians, challenging us, thinking with us, living with us.
  • It need to take the world into account. You cannot do theology with a closed door. You need to experience life, and theology is formed through this contact of faith and life, of faith in life.
  • It need to be ancient. Theology didn’t start today. We need to become part of the Bible story, think like they thought, understand where we come from. Just for interest sake, I’ve been wondering a lot lately. Why aren’t we celebrating Jewish festivals. I mean, it’s part of our history, part of our tradition. Our tradition did not start 500 years ago, as some protestants think, nor 2000 years ago, it started 3000 or 3500 years ago, maybe even more. With a small group of people, praying to a God they called Jahwe.

OK. This was just some random thoughts. What is important in doing theology today? And remember, theology is not something proffesionals do, we are all theologians.


1. Annemarie - February 23, 2007

Thx Cobus

Know I don’t need to have a dictionary with me when I’m reading this blog ;-). (Just check your spelling, tenses and grammar)

But anyway, from what I can figure you are saying that every Christian is a theologian. Some (like you, Pete and Tiaan) are practising it full time, while others also practise, just not as much.

When God is in your life, you can’t help but to change (had a firsthand experience). It’s something you can’t run away from. Like Tiaan says on his blog, you can’t run from the wind.

2. meek1 - February 24, 2007

Hi Cobus,

Not sure what you meant by “categories” that are aren’t useful anymore. But I agree with Annemarie that we (Bible believing Christians) are all theologians, albeit with a small ‘t’.

Why is it important to do theology, you asked. My 2 cents worth is: there is just too much bad theology around and bad theology needs an answer 🙂

I agree with you that we need to take the world and people around us into account. Again I’m not too ure about what you meant by theology needs to be ancient (sorry if I misread you). There is such a thing as Contemporary Theology. Taking into accounts all those you mention, say 2000, 3500 years ago… I personally would view them as doctrines, traditions (very rich ones at that!) and kinda read them according to some historical/cultural timeline and schools of thought….

For instance, it benefits us if we know the events and times of WWI and WWII when reading Karl Barth, then we’ll know why his commentaries on Roman are such. But if it is Calvinism vs Arminism or Martin Luther, than it is another arena.

Hope I’m not gibberish. Can’t help babbling as you raised a very interesting topic… 🙂

3. Glenn - February 24, 2007

I would add that the story is still being written. The development of theology and church history did not stop. It is important to understand the history of the church and theology and to be insightful about current trends as well.

I understand that you are saying that we need orthodoxy to be coupled with orthopraxy or that right beliefs need to be manifest in right practices. I like your emphasis on honesty and respect. Too often theology is merely stated and dictated, rather than discussed.

4. cobus - February 26, 2007

Thanx for all the babbling. Categories is a difficult one, and I guess a lot of people don’t want to acknowledge it, but you already talked about categories, Calvinism vs Armenianism, in a way. What I was referring to was discussed in “Split Personality Theology, a few posts back.
Theology needs to be ancient. Well, what I did not mean was that we need to use the exact same words and phrases that was used 2000 or 3500 years ago today. And I’m with you in using some kind of historical/cultural timeline. It’s just that most traditions only listen to a certain part of our history, and I think we need to be in conversation with the very deepest roots of our tradition. About doctrines, but also about rituals etc.
Maybe we’re back at relational theology again. Theology formed between people, like we are doing here. But also theology in relation to antiquity. And of course, we are never done, God is still working with us…

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