Or did SAET do Vanhoozer? I’m not sure, but Vanhoozer was present while we all did Ecclesial Theology. The Second Fellowship of the SAET met this week in Chicago. It was everything one would want: encouraging, challenging, course-correcting, vision-casting.
Kevin Vanhoozer was our special guest; Doug Sweeney, our regular Second Fellowship advisor, was also in attendance, and both brought the wisdom for us. Several of us gave papers that attempted to make Pumpkin Pie out of The Great Pumpkin, Vanhoozer’s Drama of Doctrine. KV interacted with our responses and spent time reflecting with us on what needs to happen in the theological-pastoral enterprise in which we are all engaged. A few soundbites faithfully (I hope) paraphrased:
“Theology is the study of reality. A theologian is a minister of reality.” Part of the theologian’s task is to challenge and cast down idolatrous counter-realities.
The task of the theologian is that of “public intellectual,” not necessarily in the global, CNN sense, but in the local sense. In a segmented world, pastor-theologians are the ones who can help make sense of the world as a whole. Local attempts to provide an answer to truly challenging questions, i.e., “What is a human being?” and thus make sense of the world cannot in fact do so.
The attempt to answer such questions can be made within the solar systems of economics, social media, medicine and science, politics, journalistic media, etc., and we can learn from such attempts. But wherever the attempt is made reductionism mars the end result. Theology alone gets to say, from a cosmic perspective, “God and reality are more than economics,” and theologians alone are the “Big Picture Specialists.”
“Theology and Christianity is not about getting God into my life, but about me getting into the life and story of God, who is restoring all things and renewing his image.“