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

To fellow theologians

Written by: on October 18, 2013

This week’s reading “Theology: A Very Short Introduction” by David Ford drew out my thoughts about theology even further in rather unique ways. “Theology: A Very Short Introduction”, put to words what I’ve always wanted to articulate about my ongoing journey with Christian theology.  Admittedly, there are times when I intellectually connect with Christian theology but there are also moments when it seems like Christian theology seems distance from the current affairs. On a continual basis, I have sought to understand how formal Christian theology integrates into the social domain beyond the classrooms of Bible Colleges and seminaries but the attempts have usually lacked an enthusiastic confidence.

To that end, approaching academic theology with the posture of “faith seeking understanding” [1]gives me an angle from which to wrestle with theological matters gingerly, notwithstanding the fact that there are multiplicities of ways to pursue. At length, I have continually ventured into the study of various theological schools of thought namely, systematic theology, covenant theology, et cetera. Yet I have concurrently found myself at lose of words at the news of many of my friends and family members losing their children to preventable diseases. What does one say to a mother who has lost a baby? How about a generation plagued with violence against women? What about young boys and girls in East Africa who need mentors in a pluralistic world and the missing links are the resources needed to coordinate and facilitate various leadership development platforms towards a possible solution? What is the place of Christian theology and mainstream law both locally and internationally? Should Christians be hateful towards fellow human beings even when they disagree on certain matters? What about those sections of the local and global church that should be salt and light in the world but has chosen to be a self-preserving and inwardly church focused?

In my daily experience, the above inquires and more are part and parcel of the overwhelming recurrences that are coexisting with Christian theology. This is why Ford asserts:

For believers and for others who are gripped by these great questions it is often a daily matter of wondering, doubting, trusting, weighing up options, discussing, reading, listening, meditating, discerning, and deciding. All sorts of influences come to bear, from worship, education, and preaching to novels, work experience, and suffering. 391[2]

Christian theology can provide some answers to certain questions but I am also increasingly embracing the fact that ecclesiastical teachings might not always have solutions to particular situation. This calls for the church’s interaction and participation in the academy as it seeks to comprehend and experience truth.

The Christian church need not be dismissive of academic attempts towards theology at the expense of anti-intellectual sentiments and ideologies. The practice of Christian theology then needs to take a posture of humility.  I am here reminded that Christian theology’s personality is not one of a superhero but perhaps that of an inquisitor. It is especially cathartic to behold the humanity and holistic normalcy about theology that is underscored by Ford and his ability to pinpoint the livelihood of academic Christian theology.

If academic theology can aid endeavors aimed at grappling with how “…God is really related to the whole reality….”[3] of life and “the great question of beauty, truth and practice…”[4], then there ought to cascading promotion of interest in investigative theology. To this efforts Fords instructs:

Clearly the most appropriate interest here as in other enquiries is in the truth. That interest, when oriented towards this God, includes asking about the truth of creation as a whole in its origin, Character, sustaining, and purpose, about the truth of history with special reference to Jesus Christ, and about the truth of human flouring with special reference to participation in God’s Spirit. These interests in God as creator, savior, and source of continuing transformation and blessing presuppose or lead to an embracing interest in who God is. They also involve an interest in many other enquiries, for example into the truth of the testimony of scripture and other witnesses to God, and into the challenges and alternatives to the various Christian answers. But ‘interests’ also carry a more critical thrust, suggesting that we examine suspiciously the ways we are likely to be self-interested, biased, prejudiced, or just very restricted as we enquire into God. Neither believers nor non-believers are immune to distortions due to ‘vested interests’ which are hostile to full openness to where questioning about God leads.[5]

Too often, the potency of academic theology is mostly confined and held within the wall of institutions.  What would it take for such a wealth of spiritual formation matter to be popularized in order to be accessed by the masses?

[1] Stanley Grenz, Roger E. Olsen, Who Needs Theology: An Invitation to the Study of God (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1996), 16

[2] Ford, David F. Theology: A Very Short Introduction. Kindle. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, p 391.

[3] Ibid.489

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.2391

About the Author

Michael Badriaki

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