Why my theology is messy

Ben Byerly writes a perceptive post (thanks to Eddie Arthur for the link) about what messes up “good” theology. Ben writes, and Eddie quotes

Two things throw a monkey wrench in “good theology”

1. Reading the whole Bible carefully in light its original historical, social, and cultural contexts.

2. Trying to translate and to apply the Good News of Jesus in a totally different language and cultural way of thinking.

The first helps us come to grips with the fact that God has always revealed himself in ways that speak relevantly to a specific language and cultural way of thinking; God is contextual. The second helps us come to grips with how culturally bound our own ways of thinking about God are – even when we think we are being faithful to the Scriptures.

As Eddie suggests, this explains why Bible translators like him and me don’t have theologies which fit into anyone’s neatly defined system. Indeed, while I can’t speak for Eddie, this is why my own theology is, if not messed up, at least a bit messy. This is also I think why I struggle so much with the position of people like Adrian Warnock who seem so certain that their position is absolutely correct.

Do read the whole of Ben’s post, including the part he quotes from Ben Witherington.

0 thoughts on “Why my theology is messy

  1. Peter, I have to say that I’m learning to appreciate more and more ‘messy’ theology, as to me it has this sense of humility…this idea of ‘I don’t really have it all figured out…I’m not quite sure how A and B go together, but this is what I’ve got so far….’ It leaves open the possibility for change in the future, which I think is good. People who seem to ‘have it all figured out’….well…I tend to think that they’re missing some key points and ideas, or are at the very least ignoring them. I mean, if theology were really as simply and obvious as some people make it out to be, then wouldn’t the vast majority of Christians all believe essentially the exact same thing???

  2. Peter
    “What God has done is that God has revealed enough so that we may be redeemed but not so much that we do not have to trust God about the future. ”

    That was a provoking post and I do like the extract I have shown above. I guess all evangelically minded bodies say something about the sufficiency of Scripture for salvation somewhere in their statements of faith. As an Anglican I find it in the 39 Articles which I affirmed before being licesnes as a Reader.

    To illustrate the efects of these comments, I see, for example, the confidence of some Calvinists and Arminians in arguing their position and quoting Scriptures at each other in support – sometimes the same Scriptures it seems!. I have to remind myself that Arminius and Calvin ( and Pawson and Spurgeon) were/are fallen men, albeit highly God seeking and Spirit inspired. I have long felt that God is far far bigger than any human attempt to explain him in fixed man made constructs, or cram him into a specific thelogical box. So on that particular debate, I am a Christian and if I show some tendencies in both directions – which I do – then so be it. It is the result of my own walk and constant seeking, and may be a bit different tomorrow. But that is likely to be because tomorrow’s situation demands a different response.

    Keep finding posts and quotes like this!

  3. Thanks, Rhea and Colin. I should add that like Colin I am just as suspicious of Arminian, Open Theist etc systems as of Calvinist ones, it’s just that we hear most about the Calvinist ones.

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