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

Everyday people and theology

Written by: on October 11, 2013

The idea that everyone is a theologian in his or her own right makes sense to me since I was raised in an environment where people worshiped, learned, taught and acknowledged a god or gods and spirits. My community was spiritually engaged with the other worldly at various intellectual, liturgical, mystical and superstitious ways. Indeed interaction with the spiritual world, the search and study of the divine looms large in most traditional and modern African societies. Since, I meet numerous people from different parts of the global and it is appropriate to note that theologizing is also a reality around the world. Ordinary people with all sorts of worldviews practice and mingle with spirituality and faith even among communities that do not subscribe to a deity per say. Grenz and Olson’s assert that:

Every person must at some point in life face and wrestle with the questions that point to the ultimate question of God. Many people, admittedly, do not formulate the question of God explicitly. Nevertheless, even where God is ignored or denied, God remains the ultimate horizon-background and goal-against which all of life’s ultimate question arise and to which they point. In this sense every thinking person is a theologian”.[1]

This awareness is paramount and essential for followers of Christ, the church’s presence in community and the process of “making disciples”, because it reveals that human beings in any given context are all in some measure on a pilgrimage in life. People understand and interpret events in life through particular worldviews and such perspectives inform and shape important aspect of cultures and communities. For example, how an individual approaches human worth can be determined by one’s levels of informal and formal education, presuppositions, cultural background, ideological, political and philosophical persuasions. In this regard, Grenz and Olson’ book title Who Needs Theology, is fitting and pauses a critically significant question for the church in this day and age and generations to come.

If the church is going to faithfully be salt and light in the world, it will need to take seriously the urgency of sharing the gospel holistically and the context in which the major tasks of Christian theology could be applied. Grenz and Olson attempt to address some of the existing perceptions and misconceptions about theology and subsequently provide plausible views of Christian theology. I have appreciation for the clarity about theology as “faith seeking understanding,”[2]

The authors also identify the “critical and the constructive”[3] tasks as capstone goals and aims of practicing relevant theology.  According to Grenz and Olson, “Theology’s critical task is to examine beliefs and teachings about God, ourselves and the world in light of Christian sources, especially the primary norm of the biblical message”.[4]  The second major task of theology, the constructive task, is to set forth the unity and coherence of the biblical teaching about God, ourselves and the world in the context in which God us to be disciples”[5]

A lot remains to be seen on how the above concepts of theology continue to play out among the current state of affairs of the Christian evangelical church in America and around the world, given the challenges that surround church life. Evans writes:

Armed with the latest surveys along with personal testimonies from friends and readers, I explain how young adults perceive evangelical Christianity to be too political, too exclusive, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”[6]

One could easily add other issues like gender equality and the role of women in ministry and the sometimes coercive mandate for congregants to join awkward small groups. If good theologians are people “whose conduct shows forth what God is like”,[7] then I am left to wonder how Christian theology would seek to respond to dissatisfaction about Christianity, the church by Christians and unchristian alike.


[1] Stanley Grenz, Roger E. Olsen, Who Needs Theology: An Invitation to the Study of God (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1996), 15

[2] Ibid.16

[3] Ibid.69

[4] Ibid.70

[5] Ibid.76

[6] http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/07/27/why-millennials-are-leaving-the-church/ (accessed on October 8, 2013)

[7] Stanley Grenz, Roger E. Olsen, Who Needs Theology: An Invitation to the Study of God (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1996),133

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Michael Badriaki

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