This is the second post where I am taking a paper I have written on theology and blogging and serializing it.
Theology as stance, not merely study.
In response to our tendency to reduce theology to a mere academic discipline, some have broadened their definition of theology to include the idea of stance as well as study. Please notice that I am saying stance in addition to study, not stance instead of study. That is important to add. In some circles there is an anti-intellectual mindset that devalues the academic. Yet, the academic is still important.
But, an overemphasis on academics and studies can keep theology locked up in the classroom, never letting it out into the highways and fields where it belongs. The old Puritan William Ames got closer to this more well- rounded definition of theology when he defined it as:
"The doctrine or teaching of living to God."
The academic aspect is present in this definition, but the emphasis is that theology has a broader application to all of life.
In Richard Pratt's Intro to Theology class I mentioned in my prior post, he defines theology as not merely study, but as "convictional life stance." Such an approach emphasizes that all of life applies to theology and theology applies to all of life. With that, there is a reciprocal relationship between life and study.
Our lives give us the questions we ask of our study of theology. Theological study then confirms or corrects our lives. At the same time, our lives can confirm or correct our studies. One of the key points of this paper will be that theology is done in community. Life in community can correct our studies in that our brothers and sisters in Christ often point out where we have erred in our understanding of Scripture. If I believe the Bible teaches that the world is flat, I might decide to reexamine my understanding of Scripture if I have the life experience of heading west across the ocean from Spain and never fall off the edge.