Sunday, March 17, 2013

Practical Theology 1

Anyone who reads this blog knows how it goes with me.  I have an idea. I blog for a little while. I lose interest or think I could do better or get tired of attacks or figure other people just aren't interested.  My latest idea is to run through theology with a view to its practical implications. It's a play on the phrase, "practical theology," which normally refers to theology as it relates to practical ministry. This would be systematic theology as it relates to practical life.

So we'll see what happens.

1. Is Theology Practical?
Theology is the study of God. It doesn't usually strike Christians as being particularly practical.  "Can God make a rock so big that he can't lift it?"

Of course a theologian might protest that I have picked an obscure issue.  Theology is involved with pretty much every aspect of the Christian life.  How should I discipline my children?  This question involves assumptions on what Christian discipline is about.  Does God discipline us?  Why?  In what circumstances does God discipline us?  Most of us simply do what our parents did--whether they were good "theologians" on such issues or not.

The field of "practical theology" is normally about ministry.  What is the theology behind leadership?  What is the theology behind mission?  In that sense, the title of this series is really a play on words--theology in its practical implications for life, theology as it is practical.

The next series of Sunday posts aim to go through some of the main elements of "systematic theology" with a view to how they impact our lives.  What are the practical implications?  Systematic theology is the systematic study of theology, studying theology in an orderly way that goes topic by topic.

There are different ways to divide up theology logically. You might start with a theology of Scripture and revelation, for example.  Isn't that practical--starting with how we know anything about God?  You might start with Christ, since Christ stands at the center of our relationship with God the Father.

I am going to start with God at the beginning, the traditional place to begin.  Starting with Scripture often signals a fundamentalist approach that is unable to read the Bible in context. Starting with Christ often imports a particular twentieth century theological flavor. In other words, these approaches are usually driven by specific theories.

I consider the beginning of the story a perfectly practical place to start--when God decided to do something. Yes, there are some assumptions involved here.  I'm assuming that common Christianity is true. Somehow it seems too "me-focused" to start with an individual's pilgrimage to know God. That would be very practical, but can we ever deduce things about God entirely without him reaching down to us first?

So we assume Christian orthodoxy as we begin, and we begin with God as creator at the beginning, the classic place to begin.

2. Why Believe in God?

God the Creator
3. God as Other
4. God as Timeless
5. God the All Powerful
6. God the All Knowing
7. God the Spirit
8. Three in One
9. God as Love
10. God as Just

1 comment:

Martin LaBar said...

I look forward to reading the series.