To boldly theologise where no theologian has been before

Calvin jpeg.JPG The echoes of Matrix still continue to bounce around and Lev has articulated some questions, the major one being, Do we really need a new theology for the twenty first century?
This has been a question in my mind and has occupied a fair amount of my thinking time (LOL, that makes it sound like I allocate time to thinking!) and I’m definitely in the “yes” camp at the moment! Here’s two major thinky chunks in my mind:
1. I think most people would agree that Church as we know it is culturally far from effective (agree/disagree?)! If you agree then this flawed ecclesiology must flow from a wrong or partially wrong theology surely? (Our ecclesiology is not based on a working methodology that’s for sure!) If my logic holds then it’s clear that our theology has led us adrift and therefore needs revisiting!
2. I’ve also been reflecting on the 1st Century situation: The Pharisees thought they had theology sussed, Jesus blew them away from the same scriptures. Peter thought he had theology sussed, it took a BIG vision to show him that he was way too Parochrial in his interpretation!
These are only reflections but I’ve found myself trying to see how we might need to re-look at our theology but be free to really see, am also feeling excited by the process. I’m reminded of GK Chesterton saying, “If one looks at something nine hundred and ninety nine times one is perfectly safe, if however one looks for the thousanth time one is in frightful danger of seeing it for the first time!”
Now for the thousand time ………….

11 Replies to “To boldly theologise where no theologian has been before”

  1. I think we do need to look again at our theology but wonder if it all needs restating or just aspects of it that need reforming. The other question I have is not do we need a “new theology”? but indeed, where have we gone wrong? The reformers did not necessarily find new theology, just restated it and put it all in a different priority order. (Or am I being too simplistic here?) Interested to know what others think

  2. Good questions Roy! It may be a slight reformation or a whole revolution. My concern is that if we automatically opt for the slight reform we may fail to look at things completely. At the moment I feel that the question is the start of something important, a beginning! and as you just quoted on your blog:
    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…who, at best, knows in the end the triumph of great achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. So that his place will never be with those cold timid souls who know neither victory or defeat”

  3. Amen, preach it brother – not bad for a honkey!
    I think that this was one of main frustrations of studying theology – ecclesiology isn’t up there on the intellectual agenda, and the ecclesiology that goes around is dated, and not grounded in the post modern church AT ALL – the ecumenical movement was ‘up to date.’ Also, it’s all theoretical!
    I get where sally nash is coming from with theology preceding methodology, but I think there is something in theology and praxis informing each other – that is certainly the way liberation theology really took off.
    Lets grow it! k:)

  4. Having attempted to write a Masters essay on why ecclesiology is all reactive rather than proactive, I understand that frustrations with an out of date ecclesiology. It seems to me the important thing is to get on and be Church and the academics will figure out the theology – it is one of the hardest things to analyse our culture from the inside.
    BTW happy birthday for yesterday and yay to the Talisker!!!!!

  5. Diana,
    Thanks for the comment, you’ve started a whole train of thought just as I’m dashing out to a meeting in Slough!
    Thanks for putting me on your blog list 🙂 You’re the only youthblog reader that I know of that’s been quoted in the Times! Very Cool

  6. I agree that the mainstream church is not culturally effective, but whether we need a totally new theology (for example as proposed by Spong), or just rearrange the current theology is another matter.
    One of the problems I think we now have is that whereas in the past the main source of religious and theological discussion was from the pulpit, now people can read their own bible, and there are plenty of sources of ‘consumer level’ discussion of theology available. As a result there are actually a large variety of personal theologies out there. People in the Church and outside the Church are now quite happy to say that they don’t agree with bits, or blend Christian ideas with all sorts of others (people who call themselves Christian but believe in reincarnation springs to mind). This modern approach to theology gives the Church a bit of a problem, and the question is how we choose to address it. Whilst there are parts of the Church that try to address it in a variety of ways, there seems to be a perception that the mainstream church largely tries to put it’s head in the sand, keeps preaching what they have done, and hope the problem will go away!!!

  7. Interesting Discussion. I wasn’t at Matrix but am beginning to wish I was. New forms of Church, New Theology, New things.. All very much in fashion and to a point necessary (I love the new Brian Mc Laren book on A Generous Orthodoxy as it seeks to explore how we can all look at becoming more generous and diverse in our theological method and formation) but can we be in danger of change for Change sake? Yes we need to develop a better theology of personhood and relationships, yes we need to challenge ecclesiology and if we have been at all very good at a theology of the poor. But can we get into the mode of stripping away and challenging and not accepting the fact that certain things may not require change but greater commitment?

  8. Good line
    “certain things may not require change but greater commitment” true!
    In terms of the overall debate though I very much hope that none of this flows from “new” being in fashion. The comments to this “post” have been awesome, I wish we could have an actual conversation as my mind is buzzing with so much of this, trying to see the wood and the trees!

  9. As Leonard Sweet says: “Is the a great time or what?”. Rather than get weighed down by all this -we should be excited as we work to shape the future.
    But it must be beyond youthwork…

  10. Good discussion, I tend to vary from the need to nail a new ecclesiology to the Canterburys door through to quiet subversive action by living out what youre thinking. I guess the issue for me isn’t that we need much new theology but doctrine has become too set and protectionist which is inhibiting real change. May want to check out my posts on Feb 11 and Jan 22.

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