Comments on who Needs Theology
By: Stanley J. Grenz & Roger E. Olson.
Theology has always been an integral part of the Church, from its inception to its development throughout the past 2000 years. Today theological perspectives have become a pre-occupation in the minds of many contemporary christians, as current cultural trends continue to challenge long held theological assumptions. In their book “who needs theology”, Grenz and Olson sought to address the importance of theology and why it plays such a vital role in the lives of every human being.
From the outset, the authors concluded that everyone needs theology since no one who reflects on life ultimate questions can escape God. They view theology at it’s core, as any form of “reflection on the ultimate question of life that point toward God”. In this sense we can all see ourselves as theologians, people in search of wisdom or seeking to understand.
The book developed up beautifully, almost as a monolog; using stories as illustrations to explain the whole concept of our need for theology and why everyone is a theologian. I love the way the authors interjected their personal experiences into the story. They shared their own struggles with the subject in the formative years of their development as theologians. They also provided insights from their class room experiences with their students as they sought to, guide their theological development. These made me more appreciative of their work, as theology can be a complex and difficult. It is good to know that everyone does not have to be a professional theologian since there are different levels of theologians as well as, different types of theology. For example we have we have professional theologians and we also have lay theologians. We also have forms of theology such as, folk, lay, ministerial, and professional.
Whatever the theological context we find ourselves , the authors objective is to show how we interact theologically, forming processes and systems of thoughts base on the information about God we embrace.The ultimate goal is that our lives would be changed and that God would be glorified. In this regard conflict or heresy help to sharp our theology. as with the early believers, heresy led to orthodoxy. Understanding this brings a sense of appreciation for what the early believers grappled with and how they were able to clarify their dogmas by virtue of the many doctrinal controversies that surfaced during formative era of the church.
Another appreciation for the clarity provided by Grenz and Olson focused on their discussion about dogma, doctrine, and opinion. Dogma essential for one to be considered biblical and authentic. Doctrine important without being essential to body of biblical belief. Finally, opinion which is not considered important to faith. Here, the challenge for the student of scripture is to be able differentiate between these.
SOME POSITIVE TAKE AWAYS
1: Good theology is the antidote to bad theology. Lets all work to become practitioners of good theology.
2: Both childlike faith and critical examination have a place in christianity. We need them both to help fortify our theological convictions.
3: The bible always stands in judgement over doctrinal formation. This is a good reminder in the current climate where we are witnessing a shift away from a biblical authoritative approach to one that is more relevant the socio-cultural context.
4: Theology must be truly scriptural. In the attempt to be relevant, we lose the gospel. This is prophetic, since we are witnessing the church abandoning its biblical foundation in order to conform to changing cultural expectations.
5: Satan is the greatest theologian. Indeed he knows the scriptures far better than we would be ever be able to. Because he knows it so well, he is able to create theology that looks and sounds authentic but is not. It is what Paul calls “another gospel”.
Who needs theology? is a marvelously enjoyable read because of the way in which it is written. However, expected a bit more conclusiveness. This have done by the authors stating some of the christian dogmas and explaining why they were so. They seemed to state the various theological views or arguments and allow the students to apply critical thinking in forming their theological opinions. Which find with doctrines but not so with dogmas. These are universal truths that binds christians together. We must apply critical in assessing the volume of theological thoughts and cultural issues that confront the modern church. However, when comes to the essential matters of our faith which are described in the book as a dogmas, I think it is the responsibility of the professional theologian to lay these done.