We considered selections from Chapt 2 ‘What do we mean by Theology?’ It is the author’s contention that formal religion has only existed for the last 5000 years i.e. since the advent of agriculture. [This was also postulated as the time when warfare developed – as opposed to inter tribal skirmishes.] It surprised the group members that theology is essentially a Christian concept – with no parallel in other religions. If one’s sacred book is regarded as God’s Word, then there is no need to seek out its wider, underlying or contextual meaning! A 12th Century definition of theology was ‘faith seeking understanding’.
The author then covers the relationship (?) between theology and spirituality – a search for meaning. Do humans require something to fill the void created by the decline in formal religion? Could this something be spirituality? Spirituality existed long before religions; it is an integral part of being a human. The search for meaning has an enduring quality; religion serves a transitory and temporary purpose, which the author exposes, we have outgrown. The group thought that we are too close to this transition (if it is one) to determine the validity of the author’s ideas.
The next section identifies the recent influences on contemporary theology – Liberation Theology, Feminist Theology, Creation Theology and Multifaith Dialogue. These sections offer a good summary of each.
Theology now starts with the human experience and works to wider horizons of life and reality rather than the traditional approach of starting with God and working ‘down’ to rules for humans to follow. Theology has to involve a dialogue with the world of our time.
We enjoyed a good stimulating discussion with a provocative text. Hopefully next week should be equally rewarding.