Friday, March 16, 2007
Some of you may remember this little incident from last month. I received a fair bit of feed back, both on and off the blog. I've done some thinking, read a bit, thought and talked about it, felt like crying, laughed with my friend at Moore when he repeated the story of being told he goes to an emerging church by a college lecturer, and even reached an epiphany on a train trip with Alison (which I'm starting to forget).
What I've been thinking through is that: a. Jesus Christ is Lord, and everything that statement means is true; b. my basis for identity is in Christ; c. as is everyone else who confesses with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believes God raised him from the dead (Romans 10); d. the basis for our relationships within the church (and indeed to the world) is grace - welcome one another just as Christ welcomed you. Given all this one should: i. make sure you tongue is always seasoned with salt (Matt. 5, Col. 4); ii beware of reducing people in "us" and "them"; iii avoid using labels. They can scar people for life, and are a cheap tactic for winning arguments; and iv be wise and make sure you know what the current labels are. It is useful to know what the present "doggiest" theology is when you deny it, or on the odd occasion, affirm it.
Anyway, here is a small quote from Gunton I found yesterday (when speaking on the method of historical and systematic theology):
"Our doctrinal past is best understood if its representatives are taken seriously as living voices with whom we enter into theological conversation. We shall sometimes agree and sometimes disagree with what they say, and that is what it means to take them seriously. In his Church Dogmatics Karl Barth is able to treat even opponents of the Christian faith as theological partners in conversation. Accordingly it can be argued that historical theology should be a theological discipline not because we have decided in advance what to find, but because we approach our predecessors as theologians who have something to teach us."
Colin Gunton, "Historical and systematic theology", The Cambridge Companion to Christian Theology, pp. 6-7. Words in red originally italic.
PS. I start a new job this coming Monday, working for CMS NSW in mission education.
10 points for the picture. Hint: Think Benelux.