Theology in Context (Part One)

Theology in Context is the last class to discuss from this past quarter. In it we discussed various technical models through which one can do theology in a manner that is relevant to the local context.

A little bit on the word “theology”. In my traditions, (all of them fundamentalist leaning evangelical), it is usually used to describe "biblical theology" or "systematic theology". These are excellent variations of theology, but narrowing the definition of the word to these two things makes communication on so many other subjects a bit troublesome.

The American Heritage Dictionary gives these three definitions for theology.
1. The study of the nature of God and religious truth; rational inquiry into religious questions.
2. A system or school of opinions concerning God and religious questions: Protestant theology; Jewish theology.
3. A course of specialized religious study usually at a college or seminary.

At Fuller, and I’m sure throughout academia, the word has been tagged onto many different subjects to denote a desire for "rational inquiry into religious questions" in that sphere. For instance, at Fuller, one can take classes on not only systematic theology and biblical theology, but also theology of music, theology of film, or my course, Theology in Context, to name a few.

When one considers theology in a particular context, one of the most important of the many questions asked is: “how does a given context or culture affirm Christ and Christianity; where is it ambivalent; and in what ways does it attack or malign the gospel?” The technicalities of this question, and how people are actually doing this (some of them in a North American context) were the primary concerns of the class.

What some of these models are, and how they are used, will be the subject of tomorrows post.

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