Day: September 20, 2010

what counts as ‘Christian theology’?

To speak Christian is an exacting discipline. It has taken the church centuries to develop habits of speech that help us say no more than needs to be said. But I fear too often those of us charged with responsibility to teach those habits fail to do so in a manner that those in the ministry can make their own.

(Stanley Hauerwas, ‘Reflections on Learning How to Speak Christian’)

There’s been a bit of chatter lately about what makes theology distinctively Christian. It’s not really explicit. It’s more that people keep assuming that there’s a line between Christian theology and some other kind of theology.

So Ben Myers draws attention to a new book responding to atheism — which apparently argues that the main difference between atheism and theism boils down to patience. It’s chief recommendation for Ben is that ‘in contrast to the usual apologetics … it’s actually a Christian response to atheism’.

And Mike W provocatively wonders if we can really call Wayne Grudem a theologian in light of his discussion of Christians and self-defence, in which apparently ‘There is absolutley no discussion of Jesus, his mission or his kingdom’. Ouch!

I’m not entirely sure what to make of it all. But I’d be keen to hear your thoughts: What do you think counts as Christian theology? Or, to flip it around, what would disqualify a piece of theology from being Christian?

(I’m aware this is probably a ‘family resemblance’ thing. I’m not looking for a shopping list of non-negotiables to be mechanically ticked off.)