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The Task of Theology

Updated: Dec 24, 2022

One day, my roommate and I were discussing our personal views on Christianity and during our discussion she noted that although she views me as someone who had a strong “faith,” she cannot pinpoint exactly what my theology is. I appreciated her comment because, frankly, I also could not pinpoint “my theology” either and to an extent I conflated theology with an articulation of what God is. When I closed my eyes and thought about theology all I saw was an endless void of heres and theres, and nothing that I could reasonably, or rather, succinctly define. For me, the biggest barrier between me and theology was not that I didn’t believe in God but that I had a will to get my God right. I held on to this insecurity until I heard from Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas who articulated that her theology is “faith seeking understanding.” This comment immediately gave me a renewed sense of direction — a theology.

For me, the task of theology begins with faith. It is less about understanding the nature of God but understanding our role on Earth in accordance with the information that God has given humanity. Theology therefore answers questions about morality and how we ought to treat one another, the environment, and how we can live a “good” life. Additionally, I see theology as a scholarly pursuit that looks more like an individual behind books, translations, conversations rather than behind a pulpit. It can be written, oral, literary, or mixed media. The task is to craft a moral theory as universal as a monotheistic God to give humanity a direction in the here and now. From this, it follows that there is no one way to do theology right, since theology should inevitably change over time and morph under different cultural contexts or historical epistemologies. However, this does not mean that it is not susceptible to failure. I believe that theology done well provides comfort, especially the type of comfort that comes from understanding. Theology that succeeds is concerned with the messiness and sometimes the injustice of “good,” though it always leads to an end of well-being. Theology should provide an individual direction for how a person can articulate their faith and how they further describe their journey to a good life; much like how Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas did for me.

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