What Constitutes Theology?

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Redbaron

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In another thread, a kerfuffle has broken out, wherein one poster claims their posts are NOT theological, and one or two others have opined that the posts in question are nothing BUT theology. So what do you think? What makes a statement theological? And, as a corollary, Cane one speak or write about God without being theological?
 

Mendalla

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I think the problem is how one understands theology. By the denotative definition (ie. what's in the dictionary) you are correct. But for a lot of Christians (and probably non-Christians) "theology" has the connotative meaning of an academic field about God and simply talking about God in an informal way doesn't meet that connotative definition. Further, in our increasingly anti-intellectual age, being an academic field of study is actually seen as a negative. People think that you don't need no fancy larnin' to talk about God. Hence the pushback to being told they are doing "theology". At least that is how I perceive it.

And, to be honest, academic theologians are sometimes their own worst enemies in that regard. As much as I love Homebrewed Christianity, sometimes the flood of jargon gives me a burning urge to kick Tripp Fuller someplace painful and tell him to speak f-ing English.
 

Luce NDs

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All in theory ... such threads can end up anywhere if you've observed!
 

Waterfall

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Without the written word we only have a "feeling" or experience of God and while that can be legitimate it still has to pass the litmus test of using rigorous theology in order to justify it IMO.
 

Mendalla

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Without the written word we only have a "feeling" or experience of God and while that can be legitimate it still has to pass the litmus test of using rigorous theology in order to justify it IMO.
What kind of rigorous theology are we talking, though? I don't think every Christian (or other believers) has to pass their beliefs through some kind of academic defense process. They should be thoughtful on their choice of sources and seek out opportunities to debate and defend their faith as a way of testing it and maybe prompting them to consider new ideas, but I think that's the extent. Ministers and theologians obviously need to meet a higher standard, given that they have a teaching role, but I am not sure the onus on ordinary folks in the pews is the same. They are mostly going to rely on secondary or tertiary sources, for instance. I doubt many outside ministry and academia are going to read Charles Hartshorne or Karl Barth or Wolfhart Pannenberg.
 

BetteTheRed

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I think believers should be able to discuss/articulate their faith, depending on their intellectual capabilities, to some extent. But doing so is "thinking theologically". I don't think you can escape that word.
 

Waterfall

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What kind of rigorous theology are we talking, though? I don't think every Christian (or other believers) has to pass their beliefs through some kind of academic defense process. They should be thoughtful on their choice of sources and seek out opportunities to debate and defend their faith as a way of testing it and maybe prompting them to consider new ideas, but I think that's the extent. Ministers and theologians obviously need to meet a higher standard, given that they have a teaching role, but I am not sure the onus on ordinary folks in the pews is the same. They are mostly going to rely on secondary or tertiary sources, for instance. I doubt many outside ministry and academia are going to read Charles Hartshorne or Karl Barth or Wolfhart Pannenberg.
Even if someone just listens to a theologian it's the same as doing their own reading if theyre not inclined to do so IMO, but it is not always the same interpretation now is it? Those decisions become personal.
 

BetteTheRed

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Right, but the decisions, personal as they are, are still "thinking theologically".
 

BetteTheRed

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No, Waterfall, it's not an opinion. Sorry, it's actually a word definition. We can do away with "dictionaries" and "definition of words" if we'd all like, but then, inevitably, 7 is 8, pink is blue, it's really 2027 and we're pretty frigged up.
 

BetteTheRed

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Because "language" has become meaningless. If 7 is really 8, if pink is really blue, and if I tell you I hate you when I mean I love you, what role communication?
 

BetteTheRed

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Perhaps not, but how does one have a conversation, especially in a forum about spirituality, without agreeing on some definitions? If we're not defining theology as "talking about the divine", then what exactly are we doing here? (a question I'm finding myself asking more recently, sorry to say).
 

Waterfall

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Perhaps not, but how does one have a conversation, especially in a forum about spirituality, without agreeing on some definitions? If we're not defining theology as "talking about the divine", then what exactly are we doing here? (a question I'm finding myself asking more recently, sorry to say).
I guess she probably thinks if Adam can do it...so can she?
 

BetteTheRed

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Adam didn't talk theology? He and his wife had a particularly discussion, WITH GOD, about the consequences of their decisions. I don't get that "talking to god about ethical matters" isn't theology - talking about "divine rules".
 

Waterfall

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Adam didn't talk theology? He and his wife had a particularly discussion, WITH GOD, about the consequences of their decisions. I don't get that "talking to god about ethical matters" isn't theology - talking about "divine rules".
Well I'm just speculating about unsafe's beliefs.....I'm sure she'll let us know, but it does make me wonder about the earth and the heavens, dreams, revelations as God's testimonials. Is a testimonial, dream or revelation theology too?
 

BetteTheRed

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If it leads to "coming to a conclusion about the divine", sure. Doesn't everyone have to "think it through", at least at some point, even if one then resorts to "resting one's laurels".
 
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In another thread, a kerfuffle has broken out, wherein one poster claims their posts are NOT theological, and one or two others have opined that the posts in question are nothing BUT theology. So what do you think? What makes a statement theological? And, as a corollary, Cane one speak or write about God without being theological?
I think theology is a particular theistic belief system. And there are many. Without theism, it becomes more of a philosophy or value system - though there can be overlap. I think people can talk about God without it being theology if they are arguing against the existence of God. Otherwise, if it's about how they understand God, and scriptures and ideas that discuss God, with a belief in God on some level, it's theology.
 
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