Saturday 4 July 2009

Steven R. Harmon on Ecclesial Theology

Steven R. Harmon, a Baptist theologian teaching at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, has recently started blogging at ‘Ecclesial Theology’, which he summarises (borrowing from James Wm. McClendon, Jr.) as ‘theology done in, with, and for the church’.

In a separate post (‘What is “Ecclesial” Theology?’), he notes that theology in the sense of ‘ordered thought’ about God has been carried out in the church since the beginning. But, as theology became a specialised academic field, it was increasingly hammered out by theologians in dialogue with other theologians, with little reference to the life of the church.

But, as an ecclesial discipline, theology is properly done…

in the church, ‘as one who is first and foremost a member of the church’,

with the church, ‘as one who listens intently to what other members of the church, throughout its existence in history and in the totality of its global expression today, have to say about God and things related to God’, and

for the church, ‘as one whose primary vocation is to contribute to the church’s task of teaching’.

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