So the holidays and being sick has totally slowed my blogging down. Plus I’ve been working on an important paper for grad school. This combination has proven difficult and challenging, but here we are, on Friday… so it’s time to hear the Molt.
Have you ever wondered who is a theologian? I used to think that theologians were those stodgy people living in cemeteries writing boring books that nobody cared about. Then people started calling me a theologian and I had to change my definition! But seriously, I’m convinced that everyone is essentially a theologian and a better question is whether one is a good theologian or a poor theologian. To my wonderful surprise, the Molt has far more agreement with my opinion than I would have guessed! He writes,
“Theology is the business of all God’s people. It is not just the affair of the theological faculties, and not just the concern of the church’s colleges and seminaries. The faith of the whole body of Christians on earth seeks to know and understand. If it doesn’t, it isn’t Christian faith. This means that the foundation for every theological specialization is the general theology of all believers, which corresponds to the Reformation’s thesis about the universal ‘priesthood of all believers’. All Christians who believe and who think about what they believe are theologians, whether they are young or old, women or men.” (Experiences in Theology: Ways and Forms of Christian Theology, 11, emphasis his)
I want to see an integrated right brain and left brain approach to the Christian faith. There is a danger when we elevate either intellectualism or emotional experience over and above the other. And while I realize there are serious issues within certain intellectual approaches to the Christian faith, I also realize that there is a serious anti-intellectual characteristic among some well-meaning Christians. So I value the Molt’s reminder that theology is for all of God’s people.
But that can be a bit overwhelming for some really good people I know and love. They would call themselves non-scholars and constantly tell me that they aren’t theologians (even though I disagree!). What about them? Are they supposed to learn Hebrew and Greek while studying the technical details of Chalcedonian Christology? I already lost some of you, didn’t I? By no means! Moltmann continues his thoughts by writing,
“I should not like to let this universalization of the priesthood and of theology stand in such general terms, and so I would prefer to talk about ‘the shared priesthood’ and therefore about the shared theology of all believers too. On this common ground, not everyone has to do and think the same thing. The fellowship of all believers requires that differentiation of assignments and functions which corresponds to the multicoloured diversity of the Spirit’s gifts, or charismata. Even in the shared theology of all believers there are particular commissions and delegations. Academic theology is one of them. But the community of Christians must be able to identify with its delegations. Otherwise alienations arise which have an oppressive rather than a helpful effect.” (Ibid., 12, emphasis his)
Wow. If we could get that into my hearts, I think we’d be far better off. The Molt wants people to function in their gifting and calling while being able to relate to the larger community of faith, the Church. To this, I say, “Amen!”
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Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.
A friend of mine once observed (I think he was quoting someone but I don’t know who) that most theology was theologology i.e. the study of words about god. If this distinction was made I think we would free up many people and reinvigorate theology.
Oh boy do I love that! Amen!