Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Christian Theology is academic and devotional!

Written by: on October 25, 2013


It seems to me that all the readings about theology I have studied in the past and present have turned out to be academic and devotional. The attempt to learn about the doctrine of God and how it is relevant for life has required the application of both the left and right brain activity and reflection of the soul. Why would one expect less? The material is researched, edited and written by academics who are also seeking. Theological scholars also attempt to reach a variety of people along the learning continuum of life. In my case, the pedagogical processes and setting through which I am engaging the literature is academic and invitingly based on Judeo-Christian principles.

I am taken aback by the serendipitously devotional environment that one can experience during the tedious undertaking of studying academic Christian theology. It is a stretch to wonder if Christian theology might be infused with the transformational impact of scripture; to which the writer of the book of Hebrews pin points; “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”[1] Even as I write, it is with sheer gratitude that I have begun this post with an acknowledgement that might be stating the obvious.

I had kicked around some topics for this post aimed at capturing many ideas the McGrath’s book “Christian Theology: An Introduction” awakened. For example, “The study of a supernatural being”, “Babylon why did you fall?”, “May the Patristic speak”, “Is Evangelical ‘manhoodism’ the new feminism?” and last but not least “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here!”[2] -What the hell? Like a kid in the candy store, it appeared in the course of reading, that I had been edified to imagine further about Christian theology. While the current topic sufficed, I am convinced, that I was possibly served with plausible sermonic titles on my plate for the future.

Even though the above headings excite me, I sensed the need to dwell on how thankful I am for the opportunity to be reminded of the ongoing need to study Christian theology. My doctoral cohort mate, Mr. Dobrenen, recently commented on one of our online sites to encourage us that “Christian theology is good news”. I agree. In fact, McGrath supports that claim by writing, “Theology is reflection upon the God whom Christians worship and adore.”[3]

As I sojourned through “Christian Theology: An Introduction”, it was overwhelming to realize how important it is to love God with all my mind, heart, soul and strength. I was also struck with the fact that resolved conviction about faith in Christ comes with being trained in God’s truth by the power of the Holy Spirit who also uses the study of Christian doctrine as a tool to equip the saints in the good news.

This brings me back to my prior titles, most of which I will save for other occasions. One of the titles that stood out to me was inspired by Dante’s inscription “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”[4] I included the phrase “What the hell” not to curse, but to frankly indicate my response to the hellish invitation. The fact that I even have to sanitize the saying “what the hell” just goes to show my uneasy with the subject matter. Is Christian theology good because it delivers only positive news? What about those thorny teaching of Christian doctrine that verge onto bad and sometimes disturbing news? McGrath notes:

Interest in hell reached a climax during the Middle Ages, with artists of the period taking, one assumes, a certain delight in portraying the righteous watching sinners beings tormented by burning and other means of torture.[5]

McGrath does a masterful job in discussing lively themes and key theological topics which as I hinted on earlier where a much better place for me to land and indeed I reflected on them. One of the definite ways to relish in the Christian theology jewels of the book was to write about the gratitude I encountered about the studious nature of Christian thought and also to note that I was intrigued by particularly McGrath’s report on the fact that,

…there has been a perceptible loss of interest in the idea of hell in both popular and more academic Christian circle. Evangelistic preaching now seems to concentrate upon the positive affirmation of the love of God, rather than on the negative implications of the rejection of that love[6]

My position on the subject of heaven and hell is that; heaven is of far much significance than hell, but the two are import tensions to deal with. The questions that linger in my mind are as follows?

What happens if one approaches the bible with a pick and choose method? What presuppositions guide the persuasion of a world where there is only heaven, but no hell? What presuppositions lead to an emphasis on hell? What are the consequences of a Christian theology that removes and abandons the discussion of hell?

[1] Hebrew 4:12

[2] Alister E. McGrath, Christian Theology:  An Introduction (Blackwell: London, 1994),473.

[3] Ibid., p. 117.

[4] Ibid., p. 473.

[5] Ibid. p. 473.

[6] Ibid. p. 475.

About the Author

Michael Badriaki

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