07 January 2008

Theological zoology?

I have been asking myself what kind of theologian I am. (As Tillich pointed out many years ago, the fact that I don’t earn my living directly from doing theology is irrelevant.) This particular piece of self-analysis was provoked partly by insomnia brought on by the bug that has finally caught up with me and partly by the consideration that I really don’t enjoy much of what passes for academic theology. In particular, I find abstract discussion of the nature of God and/or Christ uninteresting and detailed analysis of the writings of other theologians tedious.

The kind of theology that interests me tends to be in response to the question ‘how should we then live?’ This was the title of a book by Francis Schaeffer, a conservative evangelical theologian whose work was an early influence on me. It is many years since I read anything by him, but his question remains with me. How should we live in light of the promises and challenges of the Christian gospel? How should we live as Christians faced with this or that contemporary challenge (whether social, political, environmental, or personal)?

What sort of theology is this? As I thought about this, I recalled a distinction made in Greek Orthodox theology between bios (nature red in tooth and claw) and zoe (life transformed by the Holy Spirit). The kind of theology that interests me is theology that maps out the contours of life transformed by the Spirit. Hence the rather tongue-in-cheek title for this entry.


Tim said...

I also dislike the minutiae of model-making in which some people indulge, so that's an interesting question.

A handful of phrases come to mind, though: "true religion is... looking after widows"; "whatever things are good, pure... think on these things". We could also live joyfully and gratefully (cf Eph.3:14ff). And of course, "let this attitude be in you...".

Have you read Borg concerning Amos?

Lawrence said...

I haven’t read Borg on Amos. My own inclination is to look to Micah for a summary answer to the question ‘How should we then live?’:

‘what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?’ (Mic. 6.8)

Tim said...

Yup, similar idea. I can definitely recommend Borg; consider "The Heart of Christianity", "The God We Never Knew" and "Reading the Bible again for the first time".

His approach to Amos is to read it in terms of social justice, opposing oppression in all its forms. Micah overlaps well.