“Wealth is now defined, at least in part, by the ability to be offline whenever you want” Fernando Gros.
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Blog // Thoughts
January 19, 2008

What Makes A Good Theologian?

Steve at Shored Fragments have written a fantastic piece in response to popularity poll of big-name theologians (dare we call it Theologian Idol?). Of course trying to a label any thinker as “the best” is in a lot of ways as asinine a pastime as trying to name the “best” jazz musician, or winemaker, or […]

Steve at Shored Fragments have written a fantastic piece in response to popularity poll of big-name theologians (dare we call it Theologian Idol?). Of course trying to a label any thinker as “the best” is in a lot of ways as asinine a pastime as trying to name the “best” jazz musician, or winemaker, or newsreader. It’s a task best left to folks who are perhaps in need of a little fresh air and perspective. Even lists of “best-ness” usually reveals more about ourselves than the field we are looking at.

All that said, Steve has nailed some very important things about what might make someone a “good” theologian.

“I think a good theologian prays well, first. No theologian who doesn‚Äôt has even begun to understand the discipline. And then s/he serves the Church, and his or her particular part of it (down to a local congregation) in humility and faithfulness. Theology belongs to the Church; any theologian divorced from the Church is a bad theologian, however brilliant or knowledgeable. A good theologian has a grasp of gospel values, and would swap everything s/he has written to see one sinner repent, or one broken life healed. A good theologian writes and speaks only to help the Church be more faithful to the gospel, bringing whatever knowledge of the tradition, whatever insight into contemporary modes of thought, and whatever native cleverness s/he may possess, all into service of this one end. A good theologian is marked by humility and cheerfulness, knowing how far short of the mystery of God and God‚Äôs works his/her best efforts fall, and knowing that in the good grace of God something of lasting worth may still come from them. A good theologian, finally, does know something, and has some capacity of thought, and so can make a contribution through his/her God-given vocation.”

And, let’s take another look at one line in particular,

“… any theologian divorced from the Church is a bad theologian, however brilliant or knowledgeable.”

A lot there to think about.

[tags] Theologian, Theological Method [/tags]

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Responses
Paul 12 years ago

yes, that is a brilliant point, i wonder how often each of our communities needs its own theologians, so that the connection is both local as well as global?

Fernando Gros 12 years ago

Well, since 1999 I’ve been through four churches and been the theologian-that-hangs-around. It’s a really vexed place to be. It seems fair to say that churches don’t often know what to do with theologian types who are not “the minister” and also a lot of ministers don’t know what to do in that situation.

Toni 12 years ago

“… any theologian divorced from the Church is a bad theologian, however brilliant or knowledgeable.”

Yes.

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