Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Theology and Culture - the Big Question

“Every answer to the question ‘how do theology and culture relate?’ will also be an answer as to who we think Jesus is” - Stephen Long

I have recently enjoyed a terrific online discussion in my Theology and Contemporary Culture course. We have been reading Stephen Long's insightful and concise Theology and Culture: A Guide to the Discussion (Cascade, 2009). Long persuasively emphasizes the inevitable mediation of language in the human articulation of knowledge and experience of God. As finite creatures, located in a particular time and place, we are happily doomed to grasping at theology through the straws of context (ours, that is). However, this recognition should not lead to despair. Orthodox Christology provides a powerful glimpse into the relation of theology and context. God chose to become flesh in Jesus Christ; thus sanctioning the messiness and scandal of particularity as the means of the knowledge of the Holy. This makes it imperative that we listen to voices different than our own in the construction of our theologies. We can and must dialogue with the other(s).

The reason for this is not just basic respect for others (though that's important too), but as a necessary component of the quest for truth. To neglect such open dialogue is to diminish our experience of God and to undermine the hope for reconciliation (a major component of God's project and plan for the world).

The question is: What voices are not being heard that need to be? What voices are we(you?) squelching or silencing to the detriment of us all? What does our view of the relation between theology and culture say about our Christologies?