Kevin J. Vanhoozer, affectionately known by some as “KJV,” has written one of the best, briefest overviews of what theologians (should) do.
The entire piece is filled with gems like the following:
To become a theologian, you must be willing to bear true witness and call out false witnesses, casting down idols and ideologies. That’s the shadow side of theology, but the best part is speaking light and truth in astonished indications of God’s goodness. I love John Webster’s definition of theology: “that delightful activity in which the Church praises God by ordering its thinking towards the gospel of Christ.” Being a theologian means getting to have not necessarily the last word, but the word about last things, “the end for which God created the world” (to cite the title of a dissertation by Jonathan Edwards). It’s not only a good word but the best of all possible words, namely, that God glorifies humans and all creation, magnifying his own glory and subjecting all things to the Lordship of Christ, so that “God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28). It’s the privilege of the theologian to bear witness to the length, depth, breadth, and width of the cross and Resurrection. Karl Barth is right: “The theologian who has no joy in his work is not a theologian at all.”
Anyway, you should read Vanhoozer’s essay if:
- You’re curious about theology
- You’re considering becoming/being a theologian
- You’ve wondered what the heck theologians do anyways.
It’s worth noting that Vanhoozer recommends the following resources if you’re interested in the topic of his essay:
- Helmut Thielicke’s A Little Exercise for Young Theologians
- Karl Barth’s Evangelical Theology: An Introduction
- Mark McIntosh’s Divine Teaching
- Kelly Kapic’s A Little Book for New Theologians
- Avery Dulles’s The Craft of Theology
- Ellen Charry’s By the Renewing of Your Minds
I’ve read Barth and Charry, but I still need to check out Thielicke, McIntosh, Kapic, and Dulles.
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