Thursday, September 10, 2009

Theology Thursday: Part IIIB~ Theology Must be Knowledgable and Charitable Part II

(Part four of a series, continued from last Thursday...)

Thomas á Kempis also said:

“On the day of judgment, surely, we shall not be asked what we have read
but what we have done; not how well we have spoken but how well we have lived.”

All that said, had I not been exposed to a Kempis' writings in seminary, I would not be answering this question in the same way. It would not be wise to discount the acquiring of knowledge, and I am surprised at how much I use my seminary knowledge to apply to current issues- and without exception, the historical knowledge is an asset. Knowledge certainly cannot be discounted, but it must be kept in perspective. Otherwise, arrogance and narcissism will rear their ugly heads and alienation will be the result.

Knowledge and training are tools which are best used to communicate or to ruminate; never to pontificate or debate. When that knowledge is not "love-applied" theology (if the orthodoxy doesn't have a corresponding orthopraxy) then we should beware. For in that moment in which love is dissected from knowledge, lies the very real danger that St. Paul referred to in 1 Cor. 13 (using Eugene Peterson's verbiage) as ‘spiritual bankruptcy’:

"So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.”

Charity and understanding- an irenic approach- is absolutely necessary for theology to be transmitted effectively. When the focus shifts from irenic to polemic, the road to disaster is not far away, and this is where theology often falls flat on its face- it forgets why it is doing what it is doing. It forgets that its goal is to have knowledge and impart that knowledge in order to bless and be blessed. Good theology doesn’t pommel or boast.

More to follow next week...

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