Lumen Fidei: Faith and Theology

Theology is the outcome of faith, because (like the first apostles) we must declare what we have seen and heard.  Theology is the systematic means for doing that.

Like the varying watage of light bulbs, theology comes to us through grater and lesser lights–all of which are legitimate, and designed for different purposes.  Good theology is (as one person put it) like a pond that a gnat can wade in or an elephant can swim in.

In whatever strength of illumination, theology is essentially testimony–the product of those who have encountered God in Christ and are moved by the Spirit to write down the nature of the meeting.

Consequently, theology is a product of faith.  A true theologian is not a reporter showing up after the fact to chronicle an event, but rather a witness whose writing says, “I am telling you what God has said and done to me and to the church in which I actively participate.” 

Theology is not a spiritual autopsy, but rather a capturing of lived experience–individual and collective, ancient and modern.  It is produced in the spirit of humility and gratitude by women and men who seek to transmit faith, not invent it.

In this sense, every Christian is a theologian, and the writing (literally and figuratively) is the privilege of every believer.

About jstevenharper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 31 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
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