“Theology is dull and of little value.”
This was a reason given to me for why, “I don’t do theology.” Okay, but how do you grow as a Christian if you “don’t do theology”?
What is perturbing to me, is that I agree. A rather contradictory stance considering that I have launched “The Theology Brewing Company.” This begs the question, if I encourage the brewing of theology – and want to brew my own theology – why do I sometimes find it boring and of little value? The larger question is, why so many others also find theology dull and of little value? Isn’t theology, after all, part of our maturing faith?
I’ll admit, for me, my doing theology has been engrained with the classical, philosophical method of theology: ““Theology is “the science of religion and the study God and his relationship to humanity.” The philosophical methodology has been the chosen method of “doing theology” for most theologians over the years. Perhaps that this method has 14th c. roots is part of the problem? Perhaps also, its philosophical methodology adds to making theology dull and of little value?
Little of the classical method of theology is done in community. Most often it is a one theologian who arrives at a particular theological stance, then other theologians independently build upon the stance. There is literally no mutual brewing of a theological position in the company of others. The problem— a theologian sets a basic belief standard that becomes a absolute dogma of faith. St. Augustine, for example, with his thinking of the crucifixion of Jesus as an atonement for our sins.
If I am told what to believe, then why “do theology”? What is the value of brewing my own theology? This is exactly, although mostly subconsciously, what we are taught in our seminary theology classes or churches. If “doing theology” is of little value, it is not long before theology in a practical sense becomes of no value. And certainly, listening to someone merely recite some theologian’s view is boring, especially when I am not given an opportunity to challenge it.
Further, if I do theology in the classical sense, I am always at building my theology on the back of a previous theology, because that’s the methodology. It makes no difference whether I further the previous concept, or take exception to the concept. Case in point: We who are Christian Universalist tend to both defend our position from the Church Fathers, as well as try to incorporate our previous theological views into our system. This prevents us from allowing ourselves to start from scratch – our God-experiences — and see to where they lead us.
This is the way that I’ve worked with theology in the past, and frankly, I’m not all that excited about. It is rather dull, and I do wonder what value there is in merely agreeing with or refuting an “established” theology.
There has to be a better way to “do theology.”
I have some thoughts about that. Like going back to the root words that make up the word “theology” to do theology. And like using our “God-Experiences” as the beginning premise. We’ll save those for the next “Theology Letter.”