Theology for the Church (Those people in the pew are important!) – K. Kapic

little-book-theologians-kapic“In addition to bringing praise to God [the first and primary purpose of theology, according to the author], the purpose of theology is to support the proclamation of the Word and the life of the church. It is a great danger to neglect the corporate gathering of God’s people (Heb 10:23-25). Here we gather for baptism and the Lord’s Supper, for here are God’s self-identified people.

Theologians with advanced degrees must beware of a pompousness that would dismiss their brothers and sisters in the pew. More than others, we are required to listen to, learn from and incorporate their faithful reflections into our living theology. This does not mean uncritical acceptance, but it does mean genuinely treating those who walk with God as our fellow pilgrims. These saints often see what we missed or neglected. They can instinctively detect error missed by those who are sometimes isolated in their studies.

Right after the apostle Paul challenges his readers to ‘renew their minds,’ he calls for sober judgment and a valuing of all believers. This means not thinking too highly of oneself but recognizing that there is one body with many members, and consequently it takes the whole to function properly (Rom 12:1-8; cf. Phil 2:1-5).

Along similar lines, Charles Hodge encourages theologians to look to the flock of God for help discerning truth.

Go with your new opinions to the aged children of God who have spent years in close communion with the Father of lights. Propose to them your novel doctrines, should they shock their feelings, depend upon it, they are false and dangerous. The approbation of an experienced Christian of any purely religious opinion is worth more than that of any merely learned theologian upon earth.

We do ourselves and God no favor by neglecting the faithful, whether they are living or dead. Those in the pew should not lord their instincts over their pastors and theologians, but neither should such leaders neglect the wisdom in the pew.

Taken from chapter 9, “Tradition and Community” in Kelly Kapic’s A Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology (IVP Academic, 2012), pp.103-04.

Published in: on February 27, 2018 at 10:16 PM  Leave a Comment