Monday, May 23, 2005

The Proof of the Pudding

" in the eating." An ancient saying. But true.

This post probably falls into the "well, DUH!" category, but I still think it worth meditating on. One of the editorials for the current First Things (unfortunately, not available online yet - watch this space for the link) is "An Unworkable Theology" by Philip Turner. His point is quite simple, but widely applicable...

Every denomination has its theological articles and books of theology, its liturgies and confessional statements. Nonetheless, the contents of these documents do not necessarily control what we might call the "working theology" of a church. To find the working theology of a church one must review the resolutions passed at official gatherings, and listen to what the clergy say Sunday by Sunday from the pulpit. One must listen to the conversations that occur at clergy gatherings - and hear the advice clergy give troubled parishioners. The working theology of a church is, in short, best determined by becoming what social anthropologists call a "participant observer."

He goes on to painfully detail his application of this method to First World Episcopalianism, with predictable results. But as I read this, other applications also came to mind. How much of the preaching in our churches really reflects what we say we believe? How much of our behavior really reflects what we say we believe? The proof of our theology is not just what creed we uphold, but how go about our Christian life as well.

Sneaky suspicion: The "working theology" of some online defenders of Reformed theology may actually be Pelagian. After all, if there is a Pelagianism of morality (man can really act rightly before God if he so desires), why not a Pelagianism of theology (man can really believe rightly about God if he so desires)? The way some Reformed "apologists" treat their opposition, it makes you wonder...


Blogger Michael Spencer said...

oh yeah. so true.

12:22 PM  

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