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Everyone is a theologian, but...

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

To be human is to be a theologian. For, as Barth put it, everyone has a god. Even the logical positivists, amidst their howls of disapproval, can be called theologians. It is simply that they worship and study a different logos to the Christian theologian. To understand this we are going to need to re-define theology for ourselves. We will need to rescue it from the idea that it is just about reading books and studying languages.

 

Mike Reeves reading theology with his pet monkey

The word ‘theology’ includes the idea of the Logos, for theology is a logia, a logic or language about the theos (God) who determines it. Theology can be the study of any number of gods; but Christian theology is about knowing the true and living God as he reveals himself through his Logos, his Word, Jesus Christ. Since knowing God through his Word is the definition of being a Christian, we can see that all Christians are therefore Christian theologians. As for us, we can see that we are Christian theologians simply because we are Christians, not because we are enrolled on some particular course of study. It is therefore a complete misunderstanding of what theology is when you hear someone cheerfully (and perhaps also a bit scornfully) affirm: ‘I am not a theologian!’ As if theology could be left behind once the exam had been sat. All too often what that will mean is simply that they are a bad theologian, failing to test everything in the fire of God’s truth.

The question to ask any Christian is not, ‘Are you a theologian?’ We know they are. The question is whether the person is a good theologian or a bad theologian. We don’t mean whether they can remember the Chalcedonian definition or parse a word. Being a good theologian is not about intellectual ability. Christian theology is, as Anselm famously put it, faith seeking understanding, and therefore the only qualification for being a good theologian is faith in Jesus Christ, the revealing Word. To be a good theologian is to seek to know and rely upon the Word of God better. It is to be a faithful Christian.

Taken from Pursuing the Illogical Studies by Mike Reeves.

 

 3 Comments

Richard Matcham   (Fri 30 Nov)
I love the look on people's faces when I "suggest" they are theologians - from shock to disbelief as they realise I'm serious!! Great post and great article by Mike.
Kevin K   (Tue 19 Feb)
In which of his works did Barth say "everyone has a god"? Just curious! Thanks!
Theology Network   (Thu 14 Mar)
It's here: Karl Barth, Evangelical Theology: An Introduction (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1962), 3-5.
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