Monday, March 29, 2010

But, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try

Stephen Hebert, writing at Withering Fig, has been thinking about "What’s Wrong with Systematic Theology" and particularly some presentations of it. Perhaps there is a reason revelation comes to us through a collection of disparate documents rather than the words of a single prophet or a logically organized manifesto. From Withering Fig:
.... To me, what is most interesting and compelling about Christianity are the paradoxes. For example, Jesus Christ himself represents the most incredible paradox: God and Man in one. Serious reflection on this idea requires pages and pages and pages of thought to work out.

Another example of a paradox is systematic theology itself. Here we have a human attempting to systematize, categorize, and make easily referenced that which defies and even denies systematization. As Paul says in 1 Cor 13:12: “For now we see in a mirror dimly…” Sure, we understand some attributes of God. We can offer some kind of mental assent to God’s infinitude and the paradoxes inherent within (e.g., love and justice | eternal and temporal | etc.). But, at the end of the day, we only have a faint impression of his fullness. The best Christian thinkers are like Monet in his later periods, stricken with cataracts that alter his perception of color — we are painting a half-blind impression of the fullness of God.

So what’s wrong with systematic theology?

Infinitude defies finite system.

But, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try…
But as we try, a certain amount of humility is in order.

What’s Wrong with Systematic Theology. | Withering Fig
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