Thursday, June 11, 2009

What governs my theological thinking?

“You want to know who I really am, yeah so do I.” –“See You” by Saves the Day

I had to write a "prolegomena" for my paper for doctrine. This gives the reader some background for what is to come next. I did my paper on the doctrine of the church, which i'll post parts of here in the near future. Before that, i thought i'd share this little diddy about how and why i think:

Personal experience is the start which is tempered by logic, reason, and testing these private moments against other people’s experience. For me, that is largely what religion does for me most naturally. Scripture is a tried and true measuring stick as well as a challenger to any notions I think I’ve landed on. The irrational fullness of life taught me never to discard anything. Even when it goes against all our theories, odds are, we need to reconsider these theories anyway. I try not to hold on too tightly to any notion.

This is, of course, disquieting and I’m never certain whether the compass is pointing true or not, but security and certitude does not lead to discoveries. My life has been one of constant change and challenge and my theology and thinking reflect this. I come out of a Jesuit, natural theology with a healthy amount of Roman Catholic doctrine and dogma. This is what I’m always measuring against and reacting too. I still feel like I’m learning to be a Protestant and that I’m young enough that I still can’t say what exact ideas govern my thinking.

What it consistently boils down to is context, mystery, revelation, and praxis. Context is everything. I must be humble enough to say “I don’t know” in any given context, yet strive to find the extreme points and find the middle path (predestined or free will? Yes! Horrible sinners or rational, transcendent beings? Yes!). I must rely on God for revelation, which means I must be out experiencing the world as revelation only comes through experience. And I must put all things into practice because theory without practice is pointless and practice without theory is thoughtless. All of these are intermingled, like concentric circles or better yet, four in one. I don’t know how they’re all in there, but they are!


Anglican Gurl said...

I like this model you're talking about. It sounds very Taoist, Buddhist, or whatever Eastern Religion tag you would like to put on it. The "question the answers" approach reminds me of a book I read a long time ago. It was called "Socrates Cafe" by Christopher Phillips. Have you heard of it?

Anonymous said...

Word verification is 'misses' - interesting? LOL

I am like you - my experience with church is more the evangelical style of faith and charismatics - I find myself critiquing that strongly and pulling myself from that tradition to consider others - keeping an open mind to what new might be learned...wave of the future for theology...maybe?

In my culture we have the 4 directions - a circle of life of sorts. One of the ideas within it is that spirituality is 1/4th of the human 'being' - and without it we are not truly fulfilled (the other 3 pieces being emotional, physical, and mental). But it is very experiential and all 4 aspects come into play on a variety of issues and overlap and real life.

My theological thinking is governed by experience, scripture, reason, and how it effects me and others...a living theology I termed it once. Can't have faith unless you know how to use and appropriate such an idea/action.

Anglican Boy said...

The phrase "I don't know" is like poison to many churches, but I feel like it is also the key to the church's come back. I really liked this model you present and it helps me put more things you say into context. Thanks for posting!

I also agree with my wife, you don't sound very Christian, more something else... maybe like Phillips than a pastor?