healthy theology

May 27, 2009

6 Years of studying theology changed my life, I hope for the better.At the beginning of 2003 I found myself in a class with 15-20 other theological students, all of us apparently knowing all the answers, and few of us actually agreeing on them. Nothing new, you might say. Over the years I became very close friends with many of these people, and for some of us, our theology grew closer to each other, but for others, it grew apart.

But in spite of theology drifting apart, friendships remained. And one friend especially, formed my thinking in a crucial way. We didn’t agree on much. On the contrary, we were probably considered the two poles of the class, the two voices challenging each other, talking from totally different approaches. But we were very good friends. And although we differed a lot, and every 6 or 12 months we’d have a long theological debate, knowing we won’t convince the other, we had many conversations where we agreed on more than other might have expected.

This created a philosophical dilemma at some stage, since I definitely didn’t agree with my friend, but on many points wasn’t really concerned with that fact. I remember walking over Herold street in Hatfield, when I started working with the two terms “healthy” and “unhealty” theology. Although I had many philosophical disagreements with my friend, I considered he’s theology healthy. Indeed, there was many with whom I disagreed on some peculiar philosophical or theological point, but who’se theology I considered to be healthy.

Today I still use these words. These categories help me to recognize when to strongly disagree and point to an alternative, and when to engage in conversation, share some thoughts, and recognize that this is another healthy approach to doing theology.

At that stage I said that healthy theology would be that which helps the world become a better place, unhealthy theology would be that which motivates violence, hatred, discrimanation etc.

I publised another version of this post a few months ago on my Afrikaans blog here.

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