Friday, September 30, 2005

playful theology

We have long regarded the work of theology to be a serious task to be left only to professionals. In my estimation, we presume much if we believe that our “professional theologians” have what it takes to master the Divine. When you really stop to think about it, theology (the study of God and his ways!) has become only another modernist attempt to subjugate all things to the scientific method. The whole enterprise must be seen as, on one level, humorous and on another, quite silly. Further, it is equally na├»ve to think that we can ever free ourselves from context when we do theology; we cannot escape the world we live in. So our supposed “objective theology” is shown to be quite contextual- namely the Western, white, protestant males of a certain class, perspective and agenda. The gravity with which we have handled theology must be replaced with an honest playfulness, because our current systems of conquest and control “constitute something of an emergency.” (W. Brueggemann) It is dangerous, presumptuous and ridiculous to stay where we are. Isn't this all the language of relationship? Not a quest to "figure out" the other, but to have a relational encounter filled with gratitude, awe and delight (D. Allender).

4 comments:

Pedro said...

Phnil, PHENOMENAL point. Although I had not quite considered theology in this manner before, I wholeheartedly agree with this assessment. The systematic study of theology does have value, because it helps us limited, finite humans understand an infinite God in abstract yet understandable terms, much like a scientific description of a butterfly helps us understand more about the world in which we live. If, however, we leave our relationship with either God or butterflies on abstract terms, we end up understanding machines, or worse - idols created in our own intellectual image. Both God and butterflies have more significance interms of beauty, relationship, and transcendence. They enter our LIVES. I suppose this is why "theology" (as such) has best been done throughout the ages through STORY. Story introduces concrete (and often irrational) ideas and emotions into our realm inorder to better understand relationship with our personal God.

pedro said...

Oops, sorry for the redundancy of my posting. I hadn't read YOUR posting about the Bible as our story before i wrote it.

elnellis said...

not at all pedro, thanks so much for commenting. and for your wise words reminding me of the value of systematic theology. i find it difficult not to be come reactionary in my theological musings. often, as i'm learning in many areas of life, it is a "both, and" stance that is closer to the heart of the gospel. and yes, story theology seems very promising, life-giving i should say. peace.

chris and angela howe said...

I thought that the character named 'Neo' in Brian McLaren's book, "A New Kind of Christian" put it well when he said that we should never approach the Bible as a text book. Something we dive into simply to find the answers to questions we have. For example, gay marriage, euthanasia, the validity of the evolutionary theory, or any other number of hot-button issues that polarize our society today.

Instead, we must approach it with a sense of awe and wonder because it is the revelation of God's heart and puposes to us. Not just a book to find the answers to our questions about anything and everything.

Sytematic theology has done just this and is the direct result of Christianity being influenced by modern thinking. God will not be put in boxes. He is untamable--He is altogther Holy. That means that you cannot compare Him to anything, He's in a category all of His own!

What's so awesome is that though God is Holy, He is also knowable. He has revealed Himself and invites us (anyone and everyone who will come) to know Him! How amazing, how wonderful!