Thinking About God Thinking the Faith for Today Session I 1 11/20/12
Tough Situations• What are some difficult life situations that you have had to face?• How did you go about making sense of these situations? 4 11/20/12
WorldviewIs the model by which we evaluate,interpret, and explain reality andallow it to inform our actions withinthis world 5 11/20/12
Where is God in all of this? 6 11/20/12
OverviewI. What does it mean to Think About God?II. Why do we Think About God?III. How do we Think About God?IV. How does what we Think About God inform our decisions and actions? 7 11/20/12
What does it mean to - Think About God? 8 11/20/12
Thinking about God = Theology A “fundamental attempt to make positive and constructive statements about who God is – and who we are in light of who God is” Michael Jinkins 9Thinking About God 11/20/12
Thinking about God = Communal Activity We can only fully understand who God is – and who we are in light of who God is - in community; in conversation with the other. 10Thinking About God 11/20/12
Thinking about God = Relevancy Theology, when intentionally done within the community, and not secluded in academia, will inherently be contextual; addressing the communities realities – and therefore have a higher degree of relevancy. 11Thinking About God 11/20/12
Summary – Thinking About God means: • Our attempt to know who God is – and who we are in light of who God is. • A communal event in that we can only truly know God and ourselves in Community. • Necessarily contextual – and relevant - when done in community 12 11/20/12
Thinking About God Thinking the Faith for Today Session II 13 11/20/12
Why do we Think About God? 14 11/20/12
Why do we Think About God?• To make sense of our lived experience We Think About God in order to not only better evaluate, interpret and explain our lived experience but also in order to inform our response to our particular experience 15 11/20/12
Why do we Think About God?• Christian thinking is a dimension of Christian being Christianity isn’t a veil to shield us from the world, but rather a way to think through the world 16 11/20/12
Why do we Think About God?• Christendom in modern (western world) is no longer a reality Christianity can no longer claim an exclusive or even privileged position in a postmodern (western) society 17 11/20/12
Summary - Why do we Think About God? 1. To make sense of our lived experience 2. Christian thinking is a dimension of Christian being 3. Christendom in modern world is no longer a reality 18 11/20/12
How do we Think About God? 19 11/20/12
Tell me about God How do we know these things about God? From where did we get our information? How reliable are your resources? Which resources do we assign greater authority? 20 11/20/12
How do we Think About God? Scripture •Historical Older and Newer Testaments •Received by Faith Human Response •Authoritative Reveals the God of faith 21 11/20/12
Scripture Christianity contains a vital and indispensable historical component - The Bible. It is of immediate and primary significance because it is the sole witness to this foundational history. 22 11/20/12
The Role of Scripture and Thinking About God • The Secularist View • The Fundamentalist view 23 11/20/12
The Secularist Charge:• The Bible cannot claim Ultimate Truth because it was written by human beings and therefore is relative by very nature 24 11/20/12
A response to the Secularist Charge: We can insist that the Bible, being the only or the primary testimony to occurrences which we believe to be ultimately significant, is indispensable to our faith and Thinking About God Douglas John Hall 25 11/20/12
The Fundamentalist Charge:• Insists that the Bible be accepted literally and uncritically; elevates the Bible to the level of absolute 26 11/20/12
A response to the Fundamentalist Charge: The Bible points to the absolute – God – and is not an absolute itself. The Bible is not written in vacuum, but in certain contexts. Therefore we have to understand what the context then, in order to fully understand what the text mean to us now. 27 11/20/12
How do we Think About God? Tradition •Doctrinal Creeds and Confessions •Domestic Received from church and family 28 11/20/12
TraditionTradition means to “hand over.” Christian faith is an historical faith which is handedover not only from the early church but also from our parents and grandparents 29 11/20/12
The Role of Tradition and Thinking About God • The Modernist/Individualist view • The Traditionalist view 30 11/20/12
The Modernist/Individualist agenda: The modernist seeks to minimize, and in extreme expressions, to eliminate the regulative role of tradition in Thinking About God. The modernist feels free to eliminate anything from the past that does not seem readily applicable to the present. Douglas John Hall 31 11/20/12
A response to the Modernist agenda: It is impossible for one to escape the informative and influential character of tradition upon all of our long-held assumptions. Tradition has gone through centuries of examination, therefore there must be timeless truth in its foundation. Nevertheless, we need to be critical to tradition, to keep it relevant to our context now. 32 11/20/12
The Traditionalist agenda:• Sees its primary responsibility that of upholding in all of its purity the orthodox doctrinal teachings of their particular tradition 33 11/20/12
A response to the Traditionalist agenda: Unquestioning preservation of a given tradition not only discourages original reflection upon our present context but also fails to recognize that even tradition itself is contextually informed 34 11/20/12
How do we Think About God? Experience •Personal Individual Experience •Communal Cultural Experience 35 11/20/12
Personal Experience Experience is something that we do not receive from others but rather something we gain for ourselves 36 11/20/12
Personal Experience and its relation to Thinking About God• Middle Ages – universal categories of Man• Renaissance – the “re-birth” of the individual• Reformation – transfer of authority to scripture opens door to personal reception and interpretation• Enlightenment - made an absolute of the human intellect, reducing essential humanity to sheer mind• Romanticism - point of departure for faith is not reason nor authority but experience, the feeling of absolute dependency• Post Modern - Thinking About God is not rational thought but broad experientially based intuition or “feeling” 37 11/20/12
Assessment of Personal ExperiencePositive – A touch stone for truth; What corresponds to human experience is acceptable, what does not should be discarded as irrelevantNegative - experience becomes the primary canon of authenticity in theology – leaving no vantage point upon which to reflect upon… experience 38 11/20/12
Communal Experience Is a society or community structured by mutually accepted and agreed upon values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. 39 11/20/12
How do we Think About God? Scripture Older Testament & Newer Testament Thinking AboutTradition God ExperienceDoctrinal & Personal & Domestic Communal 40 11/20/12
Thinking About God Thinking the Faith for Today Session III 41Thinking Abot God 11/20/12
Thinking About God – the textbook model Scripture has priority over Tradition has priority over Experience 42 11/20/12
Thinking About God – in reality Experience has priority over Tradition has priority over Scripture 43 11/20/12
How do we Think About God? Scripture Older Testament & Newer Testament Traditionalist Modernist Thinking AboutTradition God ExperienceDoctrinal & Personal & Domestic Secularist Communal 44 11/20/12
Brief History of the Protestant Movement Liberal Tradition Charismatic Tradition s s s ri an d ran nist yte me sts FundamentalistReformed Tradition he lvi esb for pti t a Tradition e a Lu C Pr R B s t tist ris Evangelical Tradition s s B ap Ch als s ist an ill of ost ne d y Postmodern Tradition h e Arminian Tradition etho esle e-w urc ntec zar e a M W Fr Ch Pe N 1500 1700 1900 2000
Sources of Theology credo quia absurdum “I believe because it is absurd” This Latin phrase coined by Tertullian (150-225) evidences This Latin phrase coined by Tertullian (150-225) evidences some of the early Church’s disdain for the Greek some of the early Church’s disdain for the Greekphilosophers’ reliance upon reason for truth. He said, “Whatphilosophers’ reliance upon reason for truth. He said, “Whatdoes Athens have to do with Jerusalem, or the academy with does Athens have to do with Jerusalem, or the academy withthe Church?” He sought to return the element of mystery to the Church?” He sought to return the element of mystery to the Christian faith. the Christian faith.
Sources of Theology sensus divinitatus “Sense of the divine”The sensus divinitatus is the inward persuasion all people haveThe sensus divinitatus is the inward persuasion all people have that directs them to a belief in God and a propensity to that directs them to a belief in God and a propensity to worship. While the sensus divinitatas can contribute to and worship. While the sensus divinitatas can contribute to and shape our theology (natural theology), the information is shape our theology (natural theology), the information is insufficient to bring a person into a right relationship with insufficient to bring a person into a right relationship with God. God.
Sources of Theologynorma normans sed non normata“A norm which norms but is not normed” This is a Latin phrase of the Protestant Reformation that This is a Latin phrase of the Protestant Reformation that stresses the importance of Scripture above all other sources stresses the importance of Scripture above all other sources of theology. The Scripture, according to the Reformers, is the of theology. The Scripture, according to the Reformers, is the standard (norm) against which all other sources for theology standard (norm) against which all other sources for theology must be judged, but this standard cannot be judged by them. must be judged, but this standard cannot be judged by them.
Proposed Stage of Truth BackExperience Emotions General Revelation Tradition Reason Scripture Front
Tradition Emotions Tradition Experienc Emotions Experienc Reason 2. Theological Statement General Revelation Reason General Revelation “What is the timeless truth taught?” Timeless Audience1. Exegetical Statement Time-bound Audience Contemporary Audience“What did it mean then?” 3. Homiletical Statement Ancient Audience Ancient Audience • Historical interpretation • Grammatical interpretation “How does it apply to us?” • Contextual interpretation • Literary Interpretation
How Does What We Think About God Inform Our Decisions and Actions? 72 11/20/12
Thinking About God We begin to engage God through our lived experience and it is thoseexperiences that initiate our reflecting upon where God is in all of this. 73 11/20/12
Defining Theology credo ut intelligam “faith seeking understanding”This is a Latin phrase coined by Anselm of Canterbury (1033- This is a Latin phrase coined by Anselm of Canterbury (1033- 1109) meaning “faith seeking understanding.” This is one of 1109) meaning “faith seeking understanding.” This is one of the earliest definitions of theology. It starts with the the earliest definitions of theology. It starts with theassumption that we are believers and, as such, we are seeking assumption that we are believers and, as such, we are seeking to understand our beliefs better. to understand our beliefs better.
Categories of Theology Biblical Systematic• Restricts the formulation of theology • Formulates theology from all sources of only to the Scripture. theology, including Scripture.• Sometimes will examine the individual • Correlates the entirety of Scripture to parts of Scripture in order to formulate formulate a general theology for all a particular theology that is restricted to time and for all people. a certain time period and a particular people (e.g., Pre-mosaic theology).• Sometimes examines the theology of a • Correlates information on a doctrine certain author (e.g.,, John or Paul). by examining the theology of all the authors.
Categories of Theology Historical Systematic• Restricts the formulation of theology • Formulates theology from all sources of only to the history of the Church. theology.• Sometimes will examine the individual • Correlates the all of Church history to periods of Church history in order to formulate a general theology for all formulate a particular theology that is time and for all people. restricted to a certain time period (e.g.,, Patristic, Medieval, Reformation).
Categories of Theology Philosophical Systematic• Restricts the formulation of theology • Formulates theology from all sources of only to that which can be ascertained by theology. reason.• Sometimes will examine the individual • Correlates the all of philosophical history periods of philosophical history in order to formulate a general theology for all to formulate a particular theology that time and for all people. is restricted to a certain time period (e.g.,, enlightenment, modern, postmodern).
Categories of Theology Creedal Systematic• Restricts the formulation of • Formulates theology from theology only to that of a all sources of theology particular religious institution including the creedal or denomination. statement of many institutions and denominations.
Categories of Theology Apologetic Systematic• Formulates theology for the • Formulates theology for purpose of explaining and the purpose of creating a defending the faith to those comprehensive and outside the faith. coherent understanding of various doctrines.
ThinkingFaith for Today Thinking the About GodBibliographyCharles Colson, Against The Night: Living In The New Dark Ages(Servant Publications, 1999)Douglas John Hall, Thinking The Faith: Christian Theology In A NorthAmerican Context (Minneapolis: Fortress Press. 1991)Michael Jinkins, Invitation To Theology: A Guide To Study,Conversation & Practice (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press,2001)Robert L. Kinast, Making Faith-Sense: Theological Reflection inEveryday Life (Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1999)James D. Whitehead & Evelyn Eaton Whitehead, Method In Ministry:Theological Reflection and Christian Ministry (Lanham, Chicago, NewYork, Oxford: Sheed & Ward, 1995) 99 Thinking About God 11/20/12