Saturday, December 04, 2004

The Problem With Theology

The problem with theology is that it is too theological at times. Seriously. I am not kidding.

You think: "Well duh!" I know. It seems ludicrous to say that theology is too theological.

The reason anyone would think I am being dense in saying "theology is too theological" is due to the fact that the two words rather obviosly share the same root. The conclusion then is that I am basically defining something in terms of itself, and complainig tha a thing is too much itself. Sort of like lamenting that blue is just too blue.

But that isn't what I am doing.

My point is that theology, as a discipline, an area of study, uses way too much jargon; technical code words. Theology isn't unique in that repsect for sure; most if not all disciplines that require specialisation are like that. Scuh diverse discplines as medicine, art, and auto mechanics all use terms that have unique meanings that only make sense to those within those disciplines. Theology may use more techincal terms than most.

What makes that a problem is that there is not a single discipline that has more significance for the daily lives of people now and for eternity than theology. If there is a discpline that is more important to the everyday person than theology, I don't know what it is. To me, theology absolutely must be accessible to the everyday person so that the everyday person can make use of theology and apply it everyday.

It strikes me that while we have a plethora of bible versions available that strive to make the Bible more accessible, we have very few or no books that do the same for theology. To me that is not only a shame, its a crime. We have a lot of practical, how to live preaching, but it seems largely disconnected from theology. Orthopraxis (right behaviour) is taught without provindig a basis for it in orthodoxy (right belief). What we are developing then is a lot of people who may do the right things for bad reasons, no good reaons, or, perhaps worst of all, for no reason at all other than that their pastor said it, or they happen to think it sounds good.

Paul spent at least as much time teaching theology as he did teaching how to apply that theology. For hin it worked. Why? I think its because Paul described doctrine in ways that were understandable to the average person. He had to do that since his letters were pretty well all written to or for the benefit of, the average believer.

These days people write theology for other theologians. That means PhDs writing to and for other PhDs. What a waste. Academics must serve the church, or else it has lost touch not only with the church, but also with its function in the Body of Christ. Theolgy has become ingrown, failing to look beyond itself, serving only itsefl and its own interests.

That is what I mean by "theology has become too theological."

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