Theology in the Church II

"Theology is the task of the local church. . . . Theology is also the task of the church because the only theology that matters and is worthy of the name is practical theology. Theology is the stuff of life. . . . The supposed medieval concern about the number of angels on a pinhead may illustrate all that is silly about 'professional' theology, but a cursory glance at even some evangelical theological journals reveals contemporary discussions that are no less obscure. They may sound scholarly and impressive, but they is [sic] fundamentally sterile and too often irrelevant. Their irrelevance is compounded when the discourses are not driven by a desire to live life to the glory of God. Theology must be in the service of the church and its mission. . . . A significant part of the problem behind academic theology and biblical scholarship is the way in which it is, all too often, self-referential. Professional theologians often write about and for other professional theologians. . . . If the theologian's 'home' is academia, then approval from other 'family' members will be important. This can be painfully illustrated by the lives of former evangelicals who pursued academic careers with noble ambitions, yet sadly ended up a considerable distance from their evangelical roots. Theology does share certain conventions with of the academic disciplines. But if the primary 'home' of theology is the believing community, it will more likely be earthed in life and will more likely remain evangelical. . . . If true theology is the fruit of engagement with the Bible set in the context of the local church, then much of what passes for theology is not theology at all. Why do we allow such people to set the agenda?" [From Total Church, 155-56, 160-61]

"In the early twenty-first century, when many pastors have abdicated their responsibilities as theologians, and many theologians do their work in a way that is lost on the people of God, we need to recover Edwards' model of Christian ministry. Most of the best theologians in the history of the church were parish pastors. Obviously, however, this is not the case today. Is it any wonder, then, that many struggle to think about their daily lives theologically, and often fail to understand the basics of the faith? I want to be realistic here. A certain amount of specialization is inevitable in complex, market-driven economies. And the specialization of roles within God's kingdom can enhance our Christian ministries. But when our pastors spend the bulk of their time on organizational matters, and professors spend the bulk of their time on intramural academics, no one is left to do the crucial work of shaping God's people with the Word. Perhaps our pastors and professors, Christian activists and thinkers, need to collaborate more regularly in ministry. Perhaps the laity need to give their pastors time to think and write--for their local congregations and the larger kingdom of God." [Doug Sweeney in Jonathan Edwards and the Ministry of the Word: A Model of Faith and Thought]