Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Doing Theology: Finding Answers

2 Lent

Speaking of "Truth," N.T. Wright's article, "My Pilgrimage in Theology" is worth a read, particularly these first paragraphs:
Most theological students associate John Wenham with Greek grammar. Not me. I was in an undergraduate audience which he addressed in 1970. He urged Bible-loving Christians to consider theological study and a ministry of teaching and writing. His model was that of the stream from which Christians drink. The stream is polluted by bad theology. Our task is to feed in good theology. ‘Trickle-down’ theories are risky, but I think this one works. I had been heading for parish ministry; from that day on I knew God was calling me to an academic, though still very much church-related, vocation.

As so often, I attacked this vocation the wrong way. When I began theology, I assumed that all writers not published by the . . . Press, or perhaps the . . . of . . . Trust, were suspect. If I read the right books I would find the ‘answers’. Fortunately, after two years of soaking myself in the Bible itself, I was so gripped with the excitement of exegesis, and the new horizons it opened up that I didn’t worry so much about ‘sound’ answers. I continue to respect the Reformers, and men like Charles Simeon, of 200 years ago, John Stott, Jim Packer and Michael Green, at whose feet I was privileged to sit, and whose work in a variety of ways created space for me to do things differently. Where I disagree with them it is because I have done what they told me to: to read Scripture and emerge with a more biblical theology. The evangelical tradition at its best encourages critique from within. It sends us back to the Scripture which stands over against all traditions, our own included.
While we're on the topic of Bishop Tom's writings, check out this other article, "Farewell to the Rapture." HT: (TitusOneNine)
The American obsession with the second coming of Jesus — especially with distorted interpretations of it — continues unabated. Seen from my side of the Atlantic, the phenomenal success of the Left Behind books appears puzzling, even bizarre. Few in the U.K. hold the belief on which the popular series of novels is based: that there will be a literal “rapture” in which believers will be snatched up to heaven, leaving empty cars crashing on freeways and kids coming home from school only to find that their parents have been taken to be with Jesus while they have been “left behind.” This pseudo-theological version of Home Alone has reportedly frightened many children into some kind of (distorted) faith.
The Ascension of Jesus and the Second Coming are nevertheless vital Christian doctrines, and I don’t deny that I believe some future event will result in the personal presence of Jesus within God’s new creation. This is taught throughout the New Testament outside the Gospels. But this event won’t in any way resemble the Left Behind account.
On that note, I'd like to reaffirm that just because somebody doesn't believe some aspect of the Christian faith in the same way you do, doesn't mean s/he doesn't believe it at all.

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