Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Theological Worlds

I've previously mentioned my enjoyment of Richard Beck's Experimental Theology blog.  His latest post deals with the idea of "theological worlds" which he takes from Paul Jones.  I haven't read Jones' book, but I love the idea. 

To summarise his summary, each person has their own obsessio, the question that drives their life and keeps them awake at night, the core problem that they need to solve.  They also have (or at least need) their own epiphania, the revelation or source of hope that helps them answer their obsessio

Each person's obsessio is their own and they need to find their own epiphania to answer it.  The interplay of these two creates their "theological world".  In traditional Protestantism, the dominant obsessio is about guilt and sin, and hence the dominant epiphania is the experience of God's grace and forgiveness, expressed through Jesus' sacrifice for us.  This is the dominant theological world of our Protestant churches.

However for many including Beck (and me) this is not their dominant obsessio.  Not that he disagrees with it in principle or necessarily thinks its wrong, but it's not what keeps him awake at night, it's not the key problem he needs to solve.  What keeps him awake is the fact that thousands of children die each day of preventable causes.  So what gives him hope is Jesus' death as an act of identification with these suffering children. 

It's another line into what I was getting at in talking about "black and white" or "shades of grey" people.  We live in different theological worlds.  What troubles you, and what gives you hope, may not be what does this for me.  God is able - indeed is eager - to respond to our diversity.  The church is built on it.  It's what makes us strong.

1 comment:

ish said...

Maybe not the diversity itself but the humility to recognise that you have an emphasis or insight that expands and enriches my theology. Is it part of the nudging we are encouraged to do. (to love and good works) To de-emphasise something may have a place as long as it is not on a slope to slide away altogether. I am haunted by the "Christians" Matteo Ricci met in China. The crossed themselves but had forgotten almost everything else.