When you think about theology, do you think more of the picture at the top or on the bottom? Most people will say the bottom one. Theology is seen as done by the professionals, informing the students of deep theological concepts.
This week I have tried to show that theology should be done by the church. The church is, what theologians call, “the hermeneutical community”: it is the community who interprets both the text of the gospel and the context. Theology should be done by church members not by elites.
When I speak like this, people will often say but there will be a multitude of theologies. I then often ask them would they prefer to have one given theology that is handed down by some ecclesiastical power? Clearly not!
But what is the alternative? Paul speaks of such an alternative in I Corinthians 12:21-26. This we could call “mutual accountability”. The hand and the eye are of equal importance and cannot do without each other.The hand needs the eye to aim where to catch a ball. The eye needs the hand to actually catch it. One without the other and we drop the ball.
Churches cannot do without each other. And in this I mean churches at every level. Local churches cannot do without each other. Churches of different denominations can learn so much from each other. The Baptist cannot say to the Anglican “I do not need you”, nor can the Anglican say to the Pentecostal “I do not need you.” I have gained so much in theological discussions with non-Evangelicals, Orthodox and Catholic.
I also mean churches from different parts of the world cannot do without each other. The church blind spot of the Western Church can be seen very easily by the African Church. So the European church cannot say to the African “I do not need you.”
We need to read the Bible and the context ecumenically and internationally, holding firmly to our convictions but not at the expense of humility.