Theology and Ministry
May 22, 2007
To go look at the bodies of my grandparents have always been some of the deepest moments of closure in the process of saying good bey. Last night we went were at my
grandmothers body, she is being ashed (is that the word used in English?) today. I want to give some thoughts on that, but I’d rather let some time pass, since it is a very emotional and personal experience.
So, I would rather give some thoughts on something else, not entirely loose from what happened, and most probably while writing I’ll get back to my current situation.
What is the role of theology in the church today? Someone said to me that she don’t want to become a theologian, she want to become a minister. What exactly she meant,
I’m still trying to figure out, but it caused me to give some time to think about this. Maybe we could say that theologians are those lecturing at university, and ministers are those in churches? Which would mean that many would be ministers, until some university or
seminary decide to give you a job, and suddenly your not a minister anymore. And what would theological students then be? Cause they certainly isn’t ministers?
If not the above mentioned divide, and I definitely don’t go with that, than what else? I’m not sure. But the statement definitely assume that there is a distinction to be
made between ministers and theologians.
Let me try and assume what could be understood by such a statement:
Ministers are those sitting with the people, helping them. Theologians are those sitting with each other, talking about some hypothetical problem no one experience.
Certainly some would agree with this description. But, than social workers is ministers as well? And some philosophers theologians?
Maybe some would just soften this first distinction, saying that theologians are those sitting by themselves trying to formulate ways of speaking and thinking about God and a live viewed in relationship with God, and ministers are those helping people to live this. Although this might not be the way many would formulate it, I think that for some the distinction is that theologians ask questions and ministers should give answers.
I think I would formulate theology as: the quest of struggling with the questions about God and life in relationship with God. This would include questions such as how to make sense of suffering? How do I live in the face of poverty? How do I live in the age of global warming? What am I to do with the life I was given? And all this being asked from the perspective how I see God, and how do I view these questions while keeping God and my, as well as the world’s, relationship with God in mind.
I’m not comfortable with ministry which is seen apart from theology. Although, if you consider the great work done by social workers, to use an example, as ministry, them I’m
comfortable with it, but what is the unique role of those specializing in the field of theology then?
OK, so what is ways in which the relation between ministry and theology can be seen?
How do you see this relation?
Why do you think do some experience this tension between these two words?
Your thoughts will be welcomed!