C.S. Lewis once said that good philosophy should be done if for no other reason than bad philosophy exists. We could take that thought and say “Good theology should exist if for no other reason than bad theology does.” This is why our theology that has emerged from the Bible through the centuries is in fact trump card when it comes to theological discourse in our modern-day churches.
We can have numerous other experiences with God and have all sorts of thoughts about God, but if it contravenes Biblical teaching or the theological contours of the first few centuries of the church, then we should decide in favor of the churches historical theology rather than the theology of one person’s personal experience. My point in this is not to reduce the thinking of the church, but rather to increase it. Getting back in touch with the great thinkers of Christianity through its history will provide us the impetus for fresh wisdom in our present.
C.S. Lewis also pointed out that the experiences that one individual has may in fact be powerful. Yet, the theology of the church is like a map of all the experiences of all the Christian minds through the centuries. If we want to get somewhere, perhaps getting to the water of experience can be done by the person who has had experiences, but getting across the ocean is best left in the realm of the map and mapmakers.
Theology matters immensely today because a whole load of junk exists out there right now. How many times I have witnessed various strands of Gnosticism (an early 1st and 2nd century heresy) creep through the social groups of churches? Or, the overwhelming anti-supernaturalism of the enlightenment. Perhaps also we could talk about the shabby work of the Fundamentalist movement that still controls whole sectors of American Christianity. Even more so, the denominations such as Lutheran and Methodist, where certain local churches, have given up their Lutheran and Wesleyan Heritages. Luther and Wesley would be sore to associate with some of them.
My simple reflection for the day is to dive deeper into our Christian heritage. We can think we are right guides and good leaders and wonderful Christians, but without that heritage, our foundations will be slim. 😊