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January 05, 2006


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Jimmy Haring

Joseph, I'm honored and glad you found my post stimulating. Your blog seems to have posts on a lot of what I have been thinking about recently. I hope we can continue dialogue!

Jimmy Haring


It's not only a fracture between head and heart, Joe - it's between head, heart, and hands. I wonder how many theologians follow Karl Barth's example and go down to do a jail service every Sunday afternoon? Or serve in a soup kitchen? Or volunteer at a L'Arche community?



Agreed. I recently found Charry's By the Renewing of Your Minds: The Pastoral Function of Christian Doctrine and some of Andrew Purves' recent work to be helpful in reconnecting theology to pastoral concern and the formation of souls.


I too agree with your perspective Joe, and would take it even further. I think that part of the historical problem stems from leaving the task of theology in the hands of the professional clergy, be they bishops, monks or pastors. In recent years, under the influence of enlightenment thinking and a renewed interest in the stoics, we now see theology relegated to the modern monasteries (seminaries) where there is no longer a requirement to be a disciple of Jesus in order to do theology. Theology has become, for the most part, simply an academic pursuit and as such is now more than ever, a weapon in the hands of those who wield it, rather than a message of hope. While I believe whole heartedly that we must have well-trained and schooled theologians, I also think that in its very essence theology should be pastoral, and as such, theologians must be pastoral in their perspective. St. Paul is often mislabeled as an academic, which I would argue is a complete misreading of his epistles. I think that all of Paul's writings are pastoral, in that they provide encouragement, correction, and clarity to the body of Christ as it strives to live out the Christian life in community. Simply stated, I would argue that theology is simply what we know to be true about the living God we serve. Unfortunately we moderns, post-moderns or is it now post-post-moderns, have become neo-Gnostics who do not understand what it means to be truly human. We live dualistic lives wherein we separate the life of the physical realm from that of the spiritual realm. Like Tim said, we separate heart, head and HANDS. It is high time that we recover a truly human understanding of what it means to be God's image bearers on this earth of his, and recover an “apostolic” understanding of theology which does not relegate thinking, the worship of God with our minds, to those with a PhD or for that matter a collar. It is time that the body of Christ recovers its mission to build God's kingdom here on earth, via its many varied parts, according to the Gifts that the Holy Spirit has apportioned. It is time that theology is brought out from lofty ivory towers, the cloistered halls of the seminary, and down to the earthy valleys where it was always intended to be.


This is the reason why the study of 'applied theology' should be central to any Christian education program. Eugene Peterson calls this 'spiritual theology'. This theology is based around the question: "How does this better allow me to follow the Great Commission and the Great Commandment."

This was one of my great beefs with did not put in context how reading some 3rd Century theologian would help me minister to a 38 year old with a terminal diagnosis who asks, "Pastor, please tell me how to die?"

It is time for we theologians in the field to take back this science.


Hey Matt, no offense, but the fact that you use the word science in the same sentence with theology shows how thoroughly we have been co-opted into the stoic and enlightenment traditions. Wouldn't it be better if we referred to theology as an "art" or a craft, or better yet, a passion. The connotation of science in and of itself creates problems for the theologian. My two cents worth.

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blank stare...

  • Copyright Rev. Joseph Walker, St Timothy's Anglican Church

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