Framing What I Think a Christian Theologian’s Life is Characterized By

Being a Christian theologian is a consequence of being an active participant in the triune life of God in Jesus Christ. In this post I want to explicate, by way of reflecting on the fly, what I think being a Christian theologian entails.

Frame One. At a very basic level I think every Christian is a theologian. In other words, when a person professes Christ as their Lord, they are saying that they are in a committed relationship with the God of the cosmos; and that by definition of commitment, they are going to live in a mode of life that is fulsome with a doxological (worshipful) orientation as that is driven by a growing knowledge in the grace of God in Christ. In this sense, de jure, every Christian is a theologian.

Frame Two. Given the aforementioned, a Christian, or a theologian, will be a person who lives in this doxological frame by obedience to the Father, by the Holy Spirit; just as we see Jesus doing, over and again. I think this aspect of being a theologian is often lost on the Christian. We often think of obedience to God as some sort of legalistic bondage that the Son has come to set us free from. But if in fact the works and persons of God are indivisible in both their processions and missions, then it follows, as the Christian finds their life in that life in Christ, that a life of obedience, or submission to the Father’s will, will indeed characterize the Christian’s life.

So, we now have implicated frame two by frame one, and vice versa. In other words, while the theologian’s life is oriented by worship and a growing in the grace and knowledge of God in Christ, therein; this will be characterized by a life of constant obedience and repentance as we seek to be transformed from glory to glory by the Spirit who is the LORD. As I alluded to previously, the way these things are patterned are from the life of the Father and the Son in eternal bliss and plenitude by the Holy Spirit. It is as the inner-life of God is made extra for us in Christ that God’s grace is actualized in such a way that creatures are allowed to enter the inner life in and through union with Christ (unio cum Christo), and in and from this ground in the vicarious humanity of Jesus Christ, the Christian, in participatio Christi (participation with Christ) advances in a ‘stratified knowledge of God’[1], as God’s anterior life becomes interior to ours by the Grace of the living Christ. As the Christian comes into this evangelical reality, they now have bases to think God from the center of God in Jesus Christ (cf. Jn 1.18); this is what in the tradition is identified as an exitus/reditus (extraficiation and return — God comes out to us in Christ, and returns us to God in the resurrected and ascended Christ). Here we come into beatific vision by faith as we have access to contemplate in the Holy of Holies and inner sanctum of what it means to have life in the mysterium trinitatis and the mysterium tremendum; what it means to be confronted with the God who just is, first for Himself in the perichoresis of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and then for us out of (extra) this life as He chose to be with us and not God without us in and through the mediatorial humanity of the Son, who is the Christ.

These represent some lineaments of what it means to be a Christian theologian, from my perspective. It is an activity that is grounded in the triune life, and then lived out in worshipful exaltation of the living God as we move and breathe in and from the obedience of the Son’s active and passive obedience for us; as He gives both of these for us in the Incarnation&Atonement. We recognize all of this as a life of Love; a life that has eternally known itself in Self-givenness One for the Other as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is the shape that the obedient life has; as a life of eternal love between the Father and the Son bidden and begotten by the Holy Spirit. And it is this life that the Christian lives in and from on a daily and moment by moment basis. This is where knowledge of God is advanced; as the praxis is a piece with the doxa, and both actualized and realized for us in the resurrection power of the Son of God in Christ. Thus, being a Christian theologian has a concrete and staurological (cross) shaped character to it, such that the Christian theologian is actively living out the Great Commission making disciples of the nations, baptizing them in the singular Name of the multiplied persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; who is the One God (de Deo Uno). The Christian theologian therefore is an actor in the drama of God as God is the author and finisher of our lives in Christ; viz. the Christian theologian lives out the good activities of God as those were primarily and poetically worked out for us in the life of Christ. The Christian theologian knows God as they live in this commission of God’s life for us in Jesus Christ; a commission that encompasses the far reaches of the cosmos, first starting in Jerusalem.

Again, these are just some lineaments and off the top bases I think ought to characterize what the Christian theologian’s life might entail; and from whence that entailment gains energy and breath.

 

[1] See Thomas F. Torrance.

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