Is theology arrogance?

“Doing theology” often implies that we understand God better than the apostles or their disciples, and Jesus would really have benefited from a background in textual criticism. But has everything orthodox already been taught?

A Mennonite professor told us that one of his first assignments after seminary was to teach systematic theology during the East African Revival (talk about students teaching the teacher). He spent the semester confidently lecturing through his seminary notes, but for his last class, asked the young African pastors for any questions that he might have missed.

Every hand went up. Somehow the theologians who wrote his seminary textbooks had neglected to cover how to handle polygamy or witchcraft, issues which these pastors had to handle daily.

In a sense, systematic theology doesn’t exist. That is, it isn’t possible to describe in advance every possible way that the Bible can be applied to real life. Unless doing theology has nothing to do with real life. Or the Bible.

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