Theology is practical

Theology, to be Christian, is by definition practical. Either it serves the formation of the church or it is trivial and inconsequential. Preachers are the acid test of theology that would be Christian. Alas, too much theology today seems to have as its goal the convincing of preachers that they are too dumb to understand real theology. Before preachers buy into that assumption, we would like preachers to ask themselves if the problem lies with theologies which have become inconsequential.

— Stanley Hauerwas & Will Willimon, Resident Aliens

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8 thoughts on “Theology is practical

    1. What keeps drawing me back to both of them are a couple things. 1) traditional Wesleyan theology really has no ecclesiology because of the whole Church of England thing; 2) I think Hauerwas is right that we are post-Christendom and this calls for new ways of thinking about the church.

      Hauerwas strikes me as having almost no pneumatology, verges of Pelagianism, disdains pietism, and makes salvation the same as the church. All these things cause me difficulty.

  1. One of the things I most appreciated about Duke was the vital connection they preached and practiced between the Church and the work of theology. Great book. Great quote.

  2. Is this what is meant by “dumbing down?”

    Hauerwaus and Willimon are certainly no dummies, and I tried to read the book long ago. But: John Paul II has more to say to pastors and lay persons today than anyone I know (followed closely by N. T. Wright.)

    JPII’s Theology of the Body (perhaps interpreted by Paul Griffiths at Duke) is incredibly important.

    I’ve no doubt that Wesley’s problem with the “ecclesiology thing” is the reason for the chaos today. He had no business purporting to ordain anyone.

      1. If one follows any of a number of threads on Methoblog, one (by one I mean me, a layman well read in John Wesley, his life and theology, and having a basic knowledge of the history of the church and basic knowledge of the history of ideas, and an appreciation of the Roman and Orthodox practice of the faith, as well as post-reformation history) has to be aghast at the lack of basic understanding of the fundamental facts of the history of the church and the development of Christian doctrine, defined as what the church has always and everywhere believed, taught and confessed upon the basis of the word of God.

        A very concrete example: the doxology contained in the latest Methodist hymnal is pure heresy. Praise God, praise Jesus, praise the Spirit . . . . . nothing but modalism, and pastors are clueless.

        I agree with Willimon and Haurerwaus that theology must enrich the church. But the average preacher I encounter is clueless. I’ll stop with the example I cite.

        That’s what I mean by “dumbing down.”

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