the task of theology

December 5, 2008

Over time the task of theology and theologians have changed quite a bit. Who we consider to be theologians has changed as well. At times the importance a certain theologians view was based on his position within a hierarchy, those higher up doing more of the “thinking” and passing it down the structure. At times and in places all theologians an pastors were officiallyconsidered to have an equal voice. Some would say that with the professionalization of pastors theologians has disappeared. The pastor became a manager or a pop-psychologist.

Now, this post is not on who the theologian of today is. Whether it is those trained to be so or just an elite group of them, whether it is everyone who wants to be, or whether it is everyone, whether they like to be or not. Whoever the theologian might be, I’d rather like to ask what his/her task would be.

We live in a time when we realise, maybe more than ever before, that sometimes your worldview matters! The way you see the world matters! How you view the value of human life, how you evaluate the importance of something, how you see things fitting together, what you consider the purpose of life to be, whether you consider life to have purpose, and whether you think the purpose of life can be known, it matters! Whether you think there is a God or not, what you consider this God to be like, and how you relate this God to daily living: it matters!

Sometimes it is a matter of life and death… more and more we are realising that maybe always it is a matter of life and death. This determine whether you take part in systems that oppress the poor (and most of us do, but we have a worldview which blinds us to seeing this), what our ecological footprint would be and various other quite important things.

And this, I believe, is the primary task of theologians. Helping to form worldviews! It is the critical task of challenging a reigning worldview, and searching for a healthy worldview. All worldviews does not need a God, the theologian would say that considering God helps in forming a healthy worldview, and must search for what this might look like, since considering God can sometimes lead to an unhealthy worldview, depending on your view of God. Others also take part in this quest of forming worldviews. We sell ourselves out to the advertisement industry and Hollywood to form our worldviews! And sometimes this ain’t a good place to find a worldview!

Many other things will be taught to those who attend universities to study theology or attend seminaries, or church Bible schools or who attend church. Much of this would be good things. But when theologians, whoever they might be, forget their primary task, that of forming worldviews, a sad day might await us, because although all the other influences on worldview is not bad, and although the influence of theologians ain’t always good… we in a time where a constant danger exist that those who want to make money out of us become the biggest influence on our worldview… when that happens we can only cry: “woe woe woe” (Revelation 8:13).

3 Responses to “the task of theology”

  1. Jake Belder Says:

    This is my easy way of leaving a comment, sorry. 🙂 I reflected on this very topic a bunch recently on my blog. So, since I have a big exam tomorrow, and I would be saying a lot of the same things I did there, I’m just going to link to the posts. Hope that’s okay!

    Framing out Conception of Theology.
    The Importance of Theology.

    If it’s not okay, I’m willing to come back here in a few days and post some thoughts here. If it’s cool, feel free to check them out!

  2. Joe Stanley Says:

    Thanks for your blog! The truth is, we all do theology. We practice theology whenever we talk about what we believe about God. Even atheists, when they talk about their belief that there is no God, practice their own theology! We normally reserve the designation of “theologian” for those that have been formally trained, and make their primary purpose in life, the practice of theology. However, in a sense, when we discuss theological issues we are in essence being a theologian.

    I think that you may be right, the future will bring a change in the way we view and practice theology. Since the Post-Modern mindset seems to have a low reguard of formal theology, we can expect to see a rise in “folk christianity” or “folk theology” in the future.

    Just my two cents worth anyway.


  3. Steve Says:

    A theologian is one who prays, and one who prays is a theologian.

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