Theology That Manifests God’s “Compassionate Presence” – K. Kapic

Faithful worship must embrace not only God’s highness but also his compassionate presence. It must celebrate not only God’s might but also his mercy in the midst of human sin and misery. …Simply put, a faithful theologian is someone who – like the psalmist – knows that God’s glory is gracious and that his grace is glorious.

…Since it speaks about God, faithful theology must reflect God’s compassion and care for us and our neighbors. If we are to pursue theology faithfully, we must contemplate the value God places on those who are the most vulnerable and in need. We must be, in a word, anthroposensitive. Knowing and loving God leads us to love those he loves and to think and write theology accordingly.

…Knowing God gives the knower a concern for the vulnerable. To know God is to love God, which results in the transference of his interests and concerns to us (1 Jn). When God’s people lose this concern, God declares their theological talk and religious services empty, even offensive. This observation should sober all theologians, professional or lay: God judges our theology faithful or false by our attitudes and responses to those in need. Theology that lacks compassion and action is no theology at all.

God’s love has a particular bent toward those most in need: by extending ourselves toward those who are vulnerable we reflect and replicate the love that met us standing empty-handed before God. We are the poor, the wounded, the needy. When others look more poor, wounded and needy than we, we may perceive them as an inconvenience of threat. But if we neglect them in our talk about God – well, what more emphatic way is there to condemn ourselves? We are prone to lose sight of this in our theologizing, even with how much we talk about ourselves as sinner.

little-book-theologians-kapicTaken from chapter 8, “Suffering, Justice, and Knowing God” in Kelly Kapic’s A Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology (IVP Academic, 2012), pp.80-92.