Nothing’s Wrong With A Poet
Interestingly enough, Grenz/Olsen revealed that Bethany College vowed never to have a theology department. This speaks to the complexity with how we interact with the understanding of theology. The bias (or ignorance) against theology understands theology to be superstitious, boring and irrelevant to real life. The authors state, “It is not a question of whether or not we will do theology, it is a question of whether we will do good theology.”
Do we approach theology intentionally or accidentally? Well, we know theology is pervasive because regardless of cultural influences, people form their view of God and religion. I know…their view is generally dogmatic but that is why theology is only as authoritative as the person’s source. Grenz/Olsen discusses the sources of theology: scripture, history and culture. Scripture is the primary tool, history represents the safeguard against doctrinal mistakes and culture represents the context in which we communicate theology.
I present to you Theology and Christian theology. The relationship between these two thoughts makes everyone a theologian.
When you think of a scientist and a poet, our minds immediately classifies the two as intellectual/smart (scientist) and gifted/average (poet). This is actually the relationship with theology and Christian theology.
Theology by itself can relate to any religion, be separated from scripture and even be secular. This is where scientists thrive as they try to infuse their research. Chapter 8 states, “Theology is the pursuit of wisdom. A central crucial goal of our theologizing is right thinking.” Scientists have been trying for years to sway our minds to their thought-process of theology but Grenz/Olsen gave the average person a platform for equality. “Being a Christian theologian at any level requires that a person be more interested in knowing God than amassing ideas about God.” We form our basic theology on faith, not as an attempt to dismiss information.
Christian theology is Christ centered, it is more “in faith” (not “about faith”), theological questions are intertwined with the church and accountability is to the body of Christ; theologians are merely intellectual people in the body of Christ (Christ is the Head). We also find the authors suggesting that community is a great-integrated motif in terms of contextualization of the biblical message. I was blindsided when they did not see classic poetry as an integrative motif in relation to systematic theology. “Let the Lower Lights be Burning” was used as an example of bad contextualization. My family still reads classical poetry that involves lighthouses and they may eventually want to visit an old lighthouse.
We should never overreact when we see these integrative motifs regarding theology in different cultures because the bible used motifs to help with understanding biblical principles. It was weird because the book states, “The biblical story always comes with meaning/interpretation of the events it narrates.” Theology comes from the biblical stories so we cannot ignore the varied motifs. The purpose of theology is not to discuss new ideas but to discover more unity in scriptures. Christian theology relies on faith and revelatory knowledge (caution needed) in understanding God’s truth.
This is a great book because it challenges its readers to renew their pursuit of God through their search for truth. It is clear that we must learn how to communicate Christ’s word with accuracy into our culture. The perceived intelligence of scientist (and scholars) sometimes causes us to disqualify ourselves from theological discussions. However, intelligence can never replace biblical truths; it works in harmony. Everyone is a theologian but we need good theologians.
“Good theologians discuss intellectual questions and concern themselves with academic debate because their chief concern is life. They want to know the truth not merely so that they might think properly, but so that they might live properly.” We live by faith…
9 responses to “Nothing’s Wrong With A Poet”
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What a great methodically thought out post. Love the graphics! As the multi-talented person that you are, how do you view classic poetry as an integrative motif in relation to systematic theology? What did the authors miss by excluding it?
Thanks for the compliments. Whenever I write music for my productions, I go straight to the bible stories because it’s identifiable in my culture. The authors praise community as a good integrative motif but dismissed the “Lower light” within that community. Integrating the thematic approach in communities is not an attempt to dismiss academia. Rather, we have to learn how Jesus used agricultural principles to teach his disciples because it was necessary. America is not a great farm land but notice how our motifs are materialistic. We have man-centered motif in Eph. 1:9-10 that focused on Christ. Christ taught about the kingdom which suggests a King, castle, kingdom dwellers and enemies. If we remove integrative motif from our communities or practices, we may not be able to communnicate effectively to everyone.
I believe we must have read the book from the same perspective. Faith is the bottom line on theology not the higher educational mark that these authors put out there. The average joe has got to be able to grasp Christ just as much as the genius thinker. I felt there was a definite hierarchy and if I am not pursuing the steps up the hierarchy I must not be a Christian. That disconnect and the stories that were in the book to support the position of a theology teacher made me go back to the most basic thought that Jesus gave. I must be like a child.
Great word and I miss you my brother. We just need a good night out at the Intercontinental!! Or a morning walk!!
A night out at the Intercontinental would be great. You know after I finished my masters in worship studies, I felt weird not trying to impress everyone with great historical context of worship. However, the average Joe was never interested in the Greek or Hebrew word for worship. They felt exclusive because of academia tried to disqualify them. You’ve been doing this longer than I so I’m sure you’ve seen many of your youth that had great substance without ever stepping foot in a typical classroom. There’s a place for higher education but it should never replace ministry and active experience.
Great graphics, Garfield!
You stated, “Christian theology is Christ centered, it is more “in faith” (not “about faith”), theological questions are intertwined with the church and accountability is to the body of Christ; theologians are merely intellectual people in the body of Christ (Christ is the Head).” Faith gives room for reason. Christian theology reflects that reasoning and gives evidence for the faith that is within us. Yes. We all step out in faith, but our faith has a foundation. It cannot be directed by emotive distractions, but stands firm because of the evidential presence and position of God. We don’t simply hope that Christ will calm the storm. We know that he is greater than the storm; and therefore, can silence the wind and the waves because he is able. Our hope is not dependent on whim, but on knowledge. We know that He is omnipotent. We know that He is omnipresent. With this knowledge comes a peace that impacts every step of our lives. We don’t ask Him to prove Himself, we stand firm, because He has already proven Himself. For many, theology is a distant and an aloof understanding of scientific evidence, but for many, it is the picture of Christ being made vivid and clear in the midst of all uncertainty. It is the foundation of truth against the upheaval of emotive distraction. How do we balance the fact that we stand firm on evidence, yet still experience supernatural power that is hard to explain at times?
When you think about the Pentecostal Movement, many people didn’t believe even with the miracles that existed. Pentecostals were viewed as ignorant and even uneducated because it was a “spirit-led movement.” Here’s my point…you and I have the luxury of being educated so we can provide the balance within the context in which we serve. Those who may never step into a classroom tend to overreact with those who are educated. They find comfort in saying “we’re spirit-led” instead of embracing education. I believe our days of a global balance is gone because that’s the world we live in. Unless everyone experience both sides of the coin, balance can never exist. Think about how many pastors feel intimated by asking you to speak. They know that much can be said about education but they have insecurities about embracing you in their church. If balance existed, they would believe that educators add value to their church.
I love what you said, “My family still reads classical poetry that involves lighthouses and they may eventually want to visit an old lighthouse.” I appreciate the stand you took.
Did you embrace their thoughts on theology and the way that it is translated? Did you agree with their analogy of the five forms of theology: folk, lay, ministerial, professional, and academic. (p. 26)?
Going back to their five forms, would your “lighthouse” thought fall under a “folk” theology?
My lighthouse would fall under folk theology. I understand that not all theologies are equal and I understand that lay theology can fall into folk theology (if isolated from ministerial and professional theologians), which is often undesirable. However, I believe folk theology can be beneficial in some cultures that lacks academia. The authors showed five forms but they are all dependent on each other, although ministerial theology is safe either way.
Garfield, fun reflection to read 🙂 I wonder if its even possible to enter deeply into a theological process without artistic expression. We need both eyes to see : the intellectual, and the artistic. Maybe the artistic is needed because it moves out of embodiment, and often back into embodiment. The poetic works in similar ways, appealing to an integrative dynamic that weaves head and heart together, often confounding the head in order to open the heart. I enjoyed Dryness book on Visual Art, but was surprised that his other book, Poetic Theology, didn’t use poetry! It’s a weird theological world at times!