On Christian Theology

Balanced Christian theology is a mix of both details and mystery.  It exists in the tension between the extremes of overly-detailed dogmatism and overly-obscure mysticism.

The object—who is really the supreme Subject—of Christian theology is the self-revealing God.  It is the suffering-God who has compassionately involved himself in our painful, divisive human affairs.  It is the incarnate-God who has experienced the full weight of our human condition in the man, Jesus of Nazareth.  Christian theological inquiry, then, is a reaction to the self-disclosing, incarnational action of the Divine.  So it cannot be entirely apophatic, nor entirely mysterious.  For if it is a reaction to the activity of a God who has made himself knowable through a particular person in a particular place in a particular time, it must have details.  Details about the God-man who lived and breathed and bled in history; details about who he is, why he acted, and what he accomplished; details about our purpose and place in the ensuing drama of humanity.  Because it is not pure meta-physical speculation, it must have details.

And yet, in Jeremy Taylor’s words, ‘a religion without mystery must be a religion without God.’  I wholeheartedly agree: if Christian theology is entirely devoid mystery, then God has been significantly—if not entirely—squeezed out of it.  The object of Christian theology is the supreme Subject; the transcendent Creator and Sustainer of all things, visible and invisible.  So theology, more than any other form of inquiry, must be done with humility.  This does not mean that theological knowledge has to be utterly obscured beyond having any recognizable meaning, especially if it’s focus is the self-revealing incarnate-God.  But it does mean that such knowledge should be learned, embraced, and shared with a deep reverence for mystery.

Existing between full-blown dogmatism and full-blown mysticism is not easy.  It is much easier to become only addicted to details or only addicted to mystery.  But healthy Christian theology needs both; an uncomfortable thing for know-it-all dogmatists and obscure-it-all mystics.

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One thought on “On Christian Theology

  1. I think what we really need, is to see the power of God manifested! We prayed for a couple of boys who had a problem with their skull bones fusing together at a too early age. It is/was not leaving the ‘soft spot’ and then their brains had no room to grow. This was resulting in headaches for the boys.

    We prayed 2 weeks ago and were back to see them yesterday. They had had a second opinion. The new doctor can not find anything amiss! They are Like WHAT??? You can see the confusion on their faces. Like WHAT is going on!

    To me, that is God – delighting to delight his children, in AMAZING ways!
    Yes it is a mystery. It is a mystery that a God of all, would love us at all, and that He is ALL Love to us all! Yay!

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