“Hi, I’m Padre and I’m a theologian.” It is worthy of a twelve-step programme, the feeling that there is a necessity to analyze, scrutinise, and generally complicate things. And faith is one of those things.
Yes, I am a theologian, and the route there was one which took me through the paths of ecclesiastical history, and historical theology. So why? I used to believe (though my certainty of this has much diminished) that in a world largely agnostic, and increasingly atheistic, that there was a need for there to be believers prepared to give answers on the skeptics own turf. This is well and good, and has some merit.
The problem, as in many enterprises, is getting caught up in your own rhetoric. I have spoken often about the problem of theo-babble. The tendency to use specialist jargon when plain speaking will do. My students often ask “why do we need to know the term ‘teleological’ when design will do?” Their point has validity. I respond that they “need to know it so they can converse with other specialists.” So, why? I am sure most educated people can understand “design.” Why do we need to discuss “existential manifestations of the charisma?” It’s the “spiritual gifts!”
Paul was way ahead of us here. In Colossians 2:2-3 he says “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (NIV).” To know Christ, and in so knowing to have the full riches of complete understanding. Wow, how simple. He continues “I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments (verse 4).”
The gospel is simple: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus the Son of God. Let’s keep it that way. Feel free to join me at Theologians Anonymous; or better still with God’s people in assembly. That’s where you will find those “treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”