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Doing theology like it matters

In the modern western world Christianity is declining fast. Although some churches are growing they are not growing fast enough to offset all the shrinking that is going on. What is the point of doing theology? How can theology matter when most our world believes belief is a private and personal matter, 'up to the individual,' isn't theology just a matter of trying to enforce your opinions on others?

Someone, who wasn't a Christian, once asked me what I was studying. When I told him 'theology,' he was impressed. I was surprised, I expected it to be a conversation stopper. But he was interested, he told me 'everything comes back to theology in the end, who we are, what we do, good and bad, the meaning of life, I would love to study theology... but I have to make a living.' I thought, 'wow, and this guy isn't even a believer and yet he understands why theology matters better than most Christians I know.'

You see, whever we make statement about something that we consider to be true, or good, or beautiful, we are really making a theological statement. We are refering to something which is outside of the physical material world, some quality that is transcendent (beyond).

Whenever we choose to accept a fact (scientific or otherwise) as reality we are making an assumption about reality and our own ability to accurately perceive it. This is a theological assumption because only by their being some objective truth beyond the material universe (i.e God) and us being somehow related to this truth (e.g. 'made in God's image,' see Genesis 1:27) can we expect our perception of the material world to actually connect us to reality in any meaningful way. The same goes for statements of good and evil, whenever we (rightly) state that child abuse, or genocide, or rape, are evil and wrong we are comparing them to an objective good which cannot be measured by the natural sciences, but which none of us doubt exists, because we all intuitively know somethings are just plain wrong (evil) and some are just plain right (good). Likewise, when we find beauty in a face, or sunset, or work of art, or event, we are recognising in that coincidence of physical properties and happenstance that there is a resonance in this beautiful thing with something other, with something that is capable of bringing purpose, meaning, wholeness, and peace to the world which otherwise appears to be random, meaningless, incomplete, and disrupted.

So my point is this: we all do theology all the time. The problem is we often dont know we are doing it and we end up doing it badly. Theology isn't about me imposing my opinions on you, but about us all learning how to do theology better; to do theology as best we can, because it really matters.

Comments

  1. Realise I'm possibly not the core demographic you envisaged, but you know I'm always interested in what you have to say. Blog me up, Big Fella.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Actually Steve, I'd like to do this in a way in which anyone, whether they consider themsleves Christian or not, feels able to engage with the discussion. And I hope you will, cos you will enrich it. So you are my core demographic :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. That is an excellent philosophy Jonathan. There is no point in being christian bloggers if we are insular.

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