Thursday, December 16, 2010

The True Role of Theology

More amazing wisdom from Dietrich Bonhoeffer in God is in the Manger:

"How we fail to understand when we think that the task of theology is to solve the mystery of God, to drag it down to the flat, ordinary wisdom of human experience and reason! Its sole office is to preserve the miracle as miracle, to comprehend, defend, and glorify God's mystery precisely as mystery."

This has so many ramifications. Since the goal of theology would then not be to "figure God out", it relieves a lot of the pressure that I believe some Christians feel. I often think about Paul's admonition to have a "ready defense" for the Gospel. While it is true that we shouldn't be thoughtless Christians, we also shouldn't feel the need to be in attack mode either. If someone comes to us with honest questions, we should be able to answer. However, if someone is on the attack, it is likely that no amount of convincing will ever sway this type of person.

It is here that we embrace the mystery that is Christianity. A lot of my Eastern Orthodox roots are stirred by these thoughts. Since the Orthodox branch of Christianity is from an Eastern mindset, mystery is embraced quite a bit more than in our Western tradition. Often, as Bonhoeffer states, we try to get to explaining God through reason, which ultimately stamps out any mystery.

This could be why so many people have turned to other faiths since many modern evangelicals seem to have all the answers about God. My thought is that theology itself, while discovering answers, should also be constantly stirring more and more questions as to who God is. This questioning posture will allow us to remain captivated by the mystery which entered the world through a manger so long ago.

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