Theology on Blogs Continued: Constructive Snippets, Cohesive Thoughts

A couple days back I wrote a short entry on the fact that theology is always on the move, and must be adjusted to the times in order that it makes sense of larger more agreed upon truths within our local contexts. Because of this I think it would be helpful to “write theology on blogs and wikis” so that we can invite everyday people to the conversation about God. 

When I use the word “theology” in the previous paragraph I am in part referring to the “process of thinking, talking and writing about God.” Theology in this light, is a process, its part of our everyday life and includes the most hard-fast dogmatic things we believe to the things we hold to more loosely. Theology, as a word and as a science, has many meanings, this one I offer above is one of them; the rest I can’t fully cover here if I am to keep my self-imposed 800 word limit.

Anyways — this led to a very engaging conversation which asked questions like:

What is theology?

What is the value of theology?

What’s the difference between dogma/doctrine?

How is theology formed?

All of these questions are worthy of exploration and the comments from the previous post have some great insights. Since this previous post was about “doing theology on blogs,” I thought it might be good to revisit those comments in post form.  Here are a few capsules for us to consider, I think I included a “constructive” snippet  from everyone.

Also, I do not think that theology is “static??? as much as our expression of it needs to be constantly evolving and updating in order to successfully engage the world around us. That is the true goal of the theologian as I see it: finding new ways to express timeless truth. Kevin Bianchi

1 John 2:27 tells you plainly about all you need: “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.???
The indwelling of The Holy Spirit is all any man needs to understand God’s Word. If you haven’t got that Spirit then you will be better off putting the Holy Bible back on the shelf and leaving it there, for you will never understand it. Yes2truth

I hear what you are saying, but I am convinced that there is no theology but borrowed theology. Whether we derive/borrow our theologies from sacred texts, learned forebearers, or active communities, they come from somewhere…Might I suggest that “how we speak about it, understand it, apply it, and how we form our communities??? does not “stem from our ‘theology’???; it IS our theology? Chris Spinks

The distinction already seems to have been made in distinguishing theology from “timeless truth,??? but I’m wondering how, in a congregationalist polity like most of us seem to be in, we know one from the other. In other words, are communal discussions like this supposed to extrapolate from timeless truth, or to arrive at them? Or both? Camassia

I’m not sure that there are no new ideas (the certainly are very few) but I do agree that our theology is pretty much all borrowed.This is itself is not bad. In fact I would say it is very positive, many churches have lost their way because they are so consumed by what God might be saying now that they forget what He has already said. I would imagine He gets pretty sick of repeating himself every other generation. Rob Borley

I’m under the impression that theology is pretty non-negotaiable and is just that the “science of God.??? I think we too oftentake verses and scriptures out of context just to say fit them into our daily routine. Kristen

There is much to be deduced from these comments, this blog as an open forum allows us to work out some of these ideas, would it be possible to form some cohesive thoughts through an excersize like this?  What else can be gained through this?  Especially if true witness and the best theology is done within community?

Related Post Elsewhere: Interpretation 2.0

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Wess

...is the William R. Rogers Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.

3 thoughts on “Theology on Blogs Continued: Constructive Snippets, Cohesive Thoughts”

  1. I think perhaps my comment about theology as “timeless truth” was misinterpreted, so I will attempt to clarify my position. I do not think that theology in and of itself is “timeless truth.” Certainly a great deal of what is expressed under the banner of “theology” is neither “timeless” or something that contains significant “truth”.

    However, I do think that meaningful theology is something that attempts to understand and explain the truth that is timeless (i.e. the saving reality of Christ and His work on the cross). The process of trying to more effectively communicate The Gospel to the world around us is the theology that I want to be a part of.

    The beauty and art of this process comes in the reality that each one of is affected and motivated by different things. For me, I need structure and I am drawn to the long and moving liturgical worship of the Catholic Church. This does not work for everyone and it shouldn’t. We are each created differently and respond differently to the Gospel of Christ in both worship and ministry.

    This diversity is a beautiful thing and one that each theologian can be actively engaged in.

  2. I think Pannenberg might have something to add to this conversation with his comments from a chapter entitled “The Need for Systematic Theology”.

    “The task of theology is not only to investigate the origin and the original content of the Christian faith and of the doctrine of the church, or the changes they underwent in the course of history, but also to determine the truth which is contained in that tradition. All theological disciplines share in this task, but undoubtedly it is the special task of systematic theology, and to the degree that the question of the truth content in the documents of the Christian tradition is dealt with in biblical exegesis and in church history, those disciplines share in the special task of systematic theology.
    The content of truth that is inherent in the documents of the tradition has to be determinded again and again, because in each historical situation a new effort is needed to distinguish the truth of the gospel and of the dogma of the church from the evanescent forms of language and thought that at one time served to express such abiding truth. To make that distinction is possible only in terms of one’s own thought and language, rooted in a contemporary setting. Therefore, the task of distinguishing in a particular traditional assertion the core of truth from the passing forms of language and thought arises again and again. In each historical epoch, systematic theology has to be done all over again. And yet, the task is always the same, and the truth which systematic theology tries to reformulate should recognizably be the same truth that had been intended under different forms of language and thought in the great theological systems of the past and in the teaching of the church throughout the ages.
    The task of the theologian in relation to the traditional language of Christian teaching is a critical one as well as a systematic one. It has to be critical, because the distinction has to be made between what is historically relative in the traditional teaching and what is its abiding core. This task arises even in biblical exegesis, because the biblical writings are also historical documents. Therefore, time and again the substantial content of the biblical witness has to be reformulated. But the truth content of traditional teaching cannot be determined in dealing with details only. It needs systematic presentation. Systematic presentation is itself a test of truth claims of the specific assertions that enter into a comprehensive account. the reason is that truth itself is systematic, because coherence belongs to the nature of truth. Therefore, the attempt at systematic presenation is intimately related to the concern for the truth that is searched for in the investigation of traditional teaching.”
    Wolfhart Pannenberg “An Introduction to Systematic Theology” pgs 7-8.

  3. Daniel, great quote from some big guns. I really like this part specifically,

    “Therefore, the task of distinguishing in a particular traditional assertion the core of truth from the passing forms of language and thought arises again and again. In each historical epoch, systematic theology has to be done all over again. And yet, the task is always the same, and the truth which systematic theology tries to reformulate should recognizably be the same truth that had been intended under different forms of language and thought in the great theological systems of the past and in the teaching of the church throughout the ages.”

    I guess this kind of sums up what I am trying to do here with these posts nicely.

    Scot McKnight on his blog has an interesting example that runs close to what we’re talking about here as well. He quotes from a prof. over at Gordon Conwell who says that colleges need to be ready to change our direction when need be.

    Here’s part of the quote,

    “Howard #2 suggests colleges can either abandon doctrinal statements, harden them up into never-to-change-perpetual-statements-and-articulations, or work at learning how to keep them soft enough to be adaptable without being little more than a wax nose.”

    I think blogging in communities can help us have some soft-adaptable stuff to work with…

    @Kevin, I agree that theology is never itself “timeless” and this is the point of my blog post. But on the other hand you’re right to point out that it should be getting at something that is timeless and true – i.e. the saving work of Jesus.

    We must be ready at all times to as the Pannenberg quote says, “have systematic presentation,” because truth itself cohesive. When we avoid theological discourse, because of fear of either being a) too dogmatic or b) to vain – we do not treat the nature of God’s creation and truth properly.

    Theological discourse ought to be a humble task, a task that is done with clarity, prayer, in community, and always ready to make adjusts when new light is shed…

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