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

Theology: Past, Present and Future

Written by: on October 18, 2013

It is hard to place “theology” and “short” in the same sentence because just hearing the word theology stirs in us a plethora of feelings, images and complexities. In his little book “Theology: A very Short Introduction” David Ford does a pretty good job of not only being short, but being pretty objective as he speaks on the essentials and fundamentals of the Christian faith.

When we start discussing theology we have to realize that no theology is truly and completely objective. Every theologian is influenced by their culture, family, and life circumstances. This is what makes theology so complex. We tend to forget that people carry a lot of baggage that influences every area of their lives.

David Ford covers a lot of subjects from thinking about God to the problem of evil and the role of salvation. I think he sums up everything well when he says that all of our arguments and all of the theological discussion “pivots around how God is understood.”[1] He goes on to say,  “Jesus is not believed to be restricted to the first century but to be alive and communicating in diverse ways century after century” [2].

Over the past 2000 years there have always been people attempting to interpret and follow Jesus. Their attempts have been very much affected by the way culture has evolved. For example, we tend to look at the fist century church and think of that as the ideal way to set up our churches, but in reality the first church was set up the way it was because of its context, location, and worldwide circumstances. It would be foolishness to assume that we could do that today in America… in 2013. It is the spirit and principle that we try to attempt, not the actual “doing” or “being.”

I think we get stuck in theology not only because we put too much emphasis on the past, but also we try to fit the past into the present. If we believe that Jesus is alive and working today, wouldn’t He be different today than he was 2000 years ago? I know we quickly go to the passage in Hebrews 13:8 where the writer proclaims that  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” but I’m not trying to dispute his sameness, I’m trying to understand if He would do things the same way today… and I don’t think He would. Culture would give Him more freedom and He might push some other hot buttons… He might have picked six women and six men to be His disciples. Radical! I know!

Sometimes I feel like holding on to the past for the sake of maintaining our theology is a copout and an excuse to not deal with the present.

When Ford talks about worship he says that “the key question is: what are the moral implications of living before a God who creates and sustains everything; who is deeply involved in all human history, as seen especially in Christ; and who is present to all creation in many ways through the Holy Spirit?”[3] I would like to take it a step further and say that this is also the key question that our theology should answer. What does it mean to live before God? I think it will turn our gaze from the past into the present.

[1] David F. Ford, Theology:  A Very Short Introduction.  (Oxford University Press: New York, 1999) pg. 106

[2] Ibid., pg. 100

[3] Ibid., pg. 58

About the Author

Stefania Tarasut

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