Theological Conversations

June 23, 2007

I’m back to blogging, finally.
Sorry for the short holiday, but things have been a bit hectic the past few weeks. Actually, from the beginning of May things have been a bit hectic, and I’ve been following less and less blogs, and the past couple of days just got to the point where I didn’t even get round to blogging or reading.

I’m typing at Badseloop. It’s a campsite the church have in the most North-Eastern part of South Africa, and I’ll be spending quite some time here in the next few weeks. I’ll be helping with an adventure camp for 14-15 year olds this week, then I’ll be on holiday with Maryke and her parents the week after that, and the last week of the holidays we’ll be back for a camp with 13 year olds. But more on all that later on…

There is just so many thoughts in my head after this short sabbatical-from-blogging, that I don’t even know where to start. But here goes, some of the thoughts I’ve been having lately.

What’s the really important question in theological conversations? You see, most theological conversation revolve around the questions of “What do you believe about this or that?”, or “What do you think about this topic?”, or something similar. But more and more, I’m realizing that this question cannot be answered before an even more important question is answered.

More and more I’m realizing that it’s becoming impossible for me to answer questions about “what do you believe?”. You see, this question implies that:

  • there exist some final answer, some definite formulation of faith,
  • that it is possible for one person to formulate this in such a way that another person can understand it without misunderstandings

But I’m experiencing that it’s not that easy to put my finger on how I see things, it seems to be a little vague at places, and it doesn’t seem to fit any of the possible standard categories perfectly. When I try to define it, I’m constantly having this feeling that the other person is misunderstanding me. So it’s more like:

  • Although some final answer might exist, I’m struggling to find the exact words that would represent it
  • But even if I had the right words, I’m pretty sure you would have misunderstood me if I told them to you

So I’d rather that theological conversations start out with some different questions. Questions like:

  • Who are you?
  • Where do you come from?
  • Why do you consider this question?

To put it into the form of the implication of the question “what do you believe?”, I guess what I’m experiencing is something like:

  • The best I can give you if a general idea of what I’m thinking, in what direction I’m looking, and what the questions is I’m struggling with
  • But even this I’d only be able to give you if you’re willing to journey with me. If you are willing to trust me, and accept my integrity. Get to know me, and give me the opportunity to get to know you.

9 Responses to “Theological Conversations”

  1. Steve Says:

    But how do you answer questions like “Who are you?”

    It sounds like those war movies where you give name, rank and serial number.

  2. Ronda Says:

    I just really need to talk to someone about some serious doubts I’m having. Anyone up for a chat?

  3. cobus Says:

    Well, feel free to mail me Ronda

    Not quite what I had in mind steve:-)
    What I’m trying to get to is that you need to accept my integrity for us to have a theological conversation. You need to know that I’m serious about this search for God, and not simply trying to be difficult.
    To understand why I’m saying what I’m saying, you’ll need to know me, you’ll need to know that I’ve been having some conversations in which I felt that my integrity isn’t accepted. Someone won’t accept that I’m just sincerely searching. and not trying to be difficult.
    Does that make any sense?

  4. Steve Says:


    In some ways it is more difficult to get to know people through written communication, but in other ways it is easier. In blogging (or more strictly speaking, Web journalling) people reveal their throughts more easily than in general conversation, because they don’t keep getting interrupred. In face to face communication sometimes people can never finish what they are saying because people interrupt. Topic drift happens in electronic conversations too, though.

  5. cobus Says:

    Topic drift is OK sometimes, even interuptions. But whether you read a blog, or listen to verbal communication, you need to listen/read with a willingness to hear not simply what the dogma is that underlies the other person, but who the person is, that’s struggling with dogma. I believe we will get a lot further in our conversations this way.
    Doing thigs this way might mean that sometimes it would be easier to have a theological conversation with someone you don’t agree with than with someone you do agree with, simply because you got to know each other, and got to accept the integrity of the other.

  6. Kowie Says:

    Cobus, I do understand and personally I agree with Steve – blogging is sometimes easier because I can type, stop, reconsider, pray and go on. It is a fact that we can discuss something easier when we get to know each other, but questions about God are within us – yes, it can be influence by something somebody else say, but only to put words to the question that is already in my mind. I am of the opinion that it is possible to say out loud what I believe in – the basic is in Rom 10: 8 – 10. Welcome back!!

  7. cobus Says:

    I think I might not be getting the right words for what I’m trying to say.

    What I’m trying to say has nothing to do with the whole online vs. face-to-face debate.

    Rather, I wondering what the influence of the relationship between people will be on the theological conversation they will have? If we approach each other, accepting the integrity of the other… or better yet, if we approach each other in a relationship in which we experience that the other come to the conversation with integrity, won’t we maybe get further in out theological conversations?

    Thanks for taking part in this conversation, helping me to formulate my thoughts.

  8. Kowie Says:

    Good point. Well, it is a fact – or is it a generalisation that people do tend to influence each other in a face – to – face relationship. My voice, what I wear, how I sit, my looks, my manners – all that have an influence on how the other person perceive what I say. Sometimes those non – verbal influences can so distored what I am saying that a totally different message can be received by the other person. It is also a fact that if people get to know each other, they will listen with an other type of insight to the other person’s argument – because he knows where the other ons comes from. But is that right? Must we be influenced by what we know of the other person to gain insight in his argument?

  9. […] as Agent; God the Incarnate « my contemplations on 4 views on God: God as SourceKowie on Theological Conversationscobus on […]

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