Practicing Theology: Beliefs and Practices in Christian Life

Practicing Theology: Beliefs and Practices in Christian Life

Practicing Theology: Beliefs and Practices in Christian Life

Practicing Theology: Beliefs and Practices in Christian Life


In a time when academic theology often neglects the lived practices of the Christian community, this volume seeks to bring balance to the situation by showing the dynamic link between the task of theology and the practices of the Christian life. The work of thirteen first-rate theologians from several cultural and Christian perspectives, these informed and informative essays explore the relationship between Christian theology and practice in the daily lives of believers, in the ministry of Christian communities, and as a needed focus within Christian education.


“But what does that have to do with real life?”

In the final chapter of this volume, Miroslav Volf reports being asked this question by students in his theology classes. The question also appears here, at the book’s beginning, because it is addressed in one way or another not only in Volf’s final chapter but in every other chapter as well. “That,” in the question, is theology, the study of God and God’s relation to the world. “Real life,” in the questioners’ likely view, is the messy realm of work, love, celebration, and suffering where human beings dwell and thus where Christian life and ministry take place.

In the experience of some students and other Christians, quotidian reality can seem remote from the doctrines, narratives, and propositions that usually occupy theologians. This is not to say that they do not encounter theological concepts. They have been baptized “in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” They may belong to churches where ancient creeds are spoken during worship, where specific beliefs are advocated in sermons, and where people pray, work, and relate to others with the name of God on their lips and ideas about what God intends on their minds. Students also encounter these words and ideas in the critical atmosphere of the academy.

Even in the presence of all these explicit articulations of belief, how-

1. Miroslav Volf argues that “theology is an (academic) enterprise whose object of study is God and God’s relation to the world and whose purpose is not simply to discover ‘knowledge,’ but to serve a way of life” (p. 247).

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