Professing the Faith: Christian Theology in a North American Context

Professing the Faith: Christian Theology in a North American Context

Professing the Faith: Christian Theology in a North American Context

Professing the Faith: Christian Theology in a North American Context

Excerpt

The first volume of this trilogy is entitled Thinking the Faith, but Christianity is not only a thinking faith; it involves thinking about a particular tradition of belief. Christians bring to the contemplation of existence a perspective that they gain primarily from their ongoing dialogue with an explicit theological heritage. They look at their world through the window of that received tradition. It is the “lens” (George Lindbeck) that enables them to see what they see. It is the “great code” (Northrop Frye) on whose basis they seek to decipher their hic et nunc. It is the meditative core of their life together, the focal point of their thought and their discourse, the inspiration for their worldly work and witness.

When in Christian settings we employ the term “profession” (for instance, when it is said that persons join the church “on profession of faith”), we refer to this meditative core of the faith. One professes the faith as and when one submits, not necessarily to some prescribed set of dogmas but to the discipline of regarding one’s life and all of life from the vantage point of that “story” that is the ground of all quests for purity of dogma and the judge of them all.

1. See Thinking the Faith; Christian Theology in a North American Context (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991), 89ff. The best background known to me for an understanding of the concept story as I am using it here is found in one of Isak Dinesen’s last published stories, “The Cardinal’s First Tale.” Here the great Danish writer contrasts contemporary literature, with its concentration upon ‘the individual,’ with classical stories, in which the story has its own inner logic and momentum, and in which the characters—the heroes and heroines—are evoked by the inherent needs of the story itself. The classical story thus understood implies the dialectic of freedom and destiny that characterizes the biblical story of divine-human encounter (The Last Tales [New York: Vintage Books, 1975], 3ff.).

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