I’ve been thinking about…
Specifically, the Christian faith that God is the Creator has been on my mind, and what this tells us about how we come to know God.
What instigated this line of reflection? As usual, students.
I was reading some posts by students in a theology class here at the seminary about how we know God. Most of them mentioned how God is revealed in creation. This was not a matter of controversy. What was interesting is the varied weight each gave to this knowledge. Some regarded it as a sort of point of entry, to which is added “special revelation.” Others spoke of it more as a way of encounter the God we already know personally in Jesus through the gospel. Still others saw this knowledge as a point of entry, but ambiguous at best, requiring correction and clarification by special revelation.
What an interesting discussion! I think this was a good model of theological conversation: agreement in the faith and mutual recognition of one another’s practice, within which we can express differences in approach. Seminary is not just about learning stuff (i.e., acquiring information), but learning how to learn — which includes learning how to dialogue with others critically yet respectfully.
Ironically, we think seminary ruins good conversation. Maybe it does. But I don’t think it has to. If a bit of the spirit I saw this week could spill into the way we converse with each other in the church, we’d be a lot better off. Tempers get hot in the church over matters of doctrine, which in turn encourages us to just avoid such matters–a strategy that consistently fails, because they’ll eventually come up and we won’t be ready for them.
So, just a word of encouragement this week: keep talking! Have a conversation with someone about God, and don’t be afraid if it gets deep, provided you carry with you a spirit of critical reflection in the midsts of loving respect.