Imagining a skydive as a metaphor for theology, we can see that what we jump out of the plane with rapidly becomes something else entirely. It has to reach the ground at some stage, and that’s its point. What use is theology if it can’t get to and survive on the ground, in the lives of real people?
I was reminded only recently that theology is intensely practical. Like, God’s closer than we think! Where we get God, religion and spirituality all wrong is when we theorise and intellectualise without sharp aim or relevant purpose. People get quickly sick of the run around and the ‘lack of God’ in protracted debates and senseless diatribe.
Virtue and vice, and holiness and sin are components of life that none of us can escape and, indeed, these are things that are noteworthy about life. They’re the very things that make us happy or find us upset.
The rubber hits
If we’d consider ourselves for one moment the ‘pocket theologian,’ and why not, we’ll quickly find more satisfaction and better results in getting to the pointy end of life in our theories.
The best theologians do this. They might waffle on awhile, but they don’t go into unnecessary detail. If complexity is to be entered into they do it for a purpose.
For the pocket theologian it’s no different, but at least we don’t have an image to maintain other than our credibility as a diligent and mature Christian. Besides, pleasing God is our most basic aim.
Theology’s Best Defence is Practical
We cannot really discuss the intellectual without becoming terminal. The key question has to be, “Where does it end?”
It is necessary, then, to get into the nitty gritty of life and discuss lament and grief and love and fear and hate—the seven deadly sins and their opposite virtues. Theology has no reason if not for these, so long as our lives are concerned. And where God departs from the relational in terms of any real impact on our lives is concerned, God becomes irrelevant. But, we know that God is never irrelevant because God is interwoven into the very fabric of life.
All seemingly endless arguments of theology, i.e. those that never reach the ground and don’t hope to either, are aloof to the point of meaning that God’s infused in this life. In other words, they’re not godly arguments.
If we want our theology to be achieve anything meaningful it has to be sharply practical.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.
Acknowledgement: to Peter Elliott’s message “Joseph” preached at