Avoiding the Philosopher’s Sandbox: A Word to Budding Theologians

Something I have come to realize over time is that the theological rubik’s-cube will never be solved. In my young theological zeal, in my overzealous idealism, I had the vision that the theologian, not to mention the Greek grammarian, could pierce the heavens and find things never known before; that they could, with all their learnedness, put an end to various theological debates that heretofore had yet to be conquered. As I’ve done due-diligence over the decades I’ve come to realize that these professional theologians are but dust, like me. After spending hours and hours in study, I’ve come to see that the theologian often is simply shuffling various theological loci around per their own unique and imaginative ways of ordering them; and this in itself counts as their respective genius. In nuce, what I’ve come to realize is that most theologians don’t offer anything original to some sort of burgeoning theological discourse. This is somewhat disheartening, to say the least. 

All this does is press me into further Christ concentration. I don’t abandon the theological task. Instead, I look for theologians who have a laser-focus on the man from Nazareth. Most other theology, the theology of the schoolmen, what I am primarily referring to above, is a dead-end. It starts and ends in the theologian’s imagination, and from the philosopher’s sandbox. This is helpful for me in certain ways, it delimits the types of theologies and theologians I’ll spend my time reading. But coming to this realization has been a process. I still see budding theologians with the sort of zeal I started out with. Hopefully the game won’t chew them up and spit them out. Hopefully they won’t find their identity in their CVs, and the chummy-ness they come to experience at the national theological conferences. Hopefully they’ll be quick to the draw, and simply press into the economy of the Kingdom, rather than the institution of the theologians.  

6 thoughts on “Avoiding the Philosopher’s Sandbox: A Word to Budding Theologians

  1. I respect and share your sense of disappointment, brought to bear through the operative nature of experience. Yes, “Hopefully (and prayerfully) they’ll be quick to the draw, and simply press into the economy of the Kingdom, rather than the institution of the theologians.” Amen.

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  2. In addition to what you have stated, truthfully in my opinion, is what I as a complete amateur am going to call the hermeneutical problem: “How do we as individuals and as a collective body called brethren both read and understand the authoritative/trustworthy/(inerrant) text?” I am not sure if this issue is the same as the one you are getting at above. I still read scripture in the same organic mode that I did when God saved me as a teenager out from the world and into the light of the gospel and the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus. Specifically I believe that when we as a local collective gather to read, and pray, the Spirit will lead us in some mystical way towards the truth. However as I do so, I can not neglect the context of the large corpus of church history into which my conclusions must somehow fit.


  3. I’m a VW person. My first car was a 69 Bug. My brother had a 51 Bug. I grew up in Southern CA, and back in the day VW everything was pervasive. I always wanted a bus like the one in this portrait. I thought this pic was cool when I came across it years ago; I’ve used as a header before. I thought a non-theo pic would be nice and random, and reflect something different about me beyond the typical theological stuff.

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  4. Quistian, yeah, there is always the hermeneutical dilemma. But I’m rather confident in following some form of the grammatic-historical method within a canonical frame, and that within a Christ regulated form.

    But I’m referring more to the theologian’s attitude, and how that impinges on their respective conclusions. Lots of posturing going on out there, in other words.


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