What is theology?
The word “
” is comprised of two Greek roots—“logy” (logos =
language) and “theo” (theos = God).
” is language (logos)—whether
spoken or written—about God (theos).
Entering into the arena of theological discourse—reading, writing, speaking,
listening, thinking—is, says Kenneth Burke, like entering a room full of people who are
in the middle of conversation.
You come late.
When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they
are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and
tell you exactly what it is about.
In fact the discussion had already begun long
before any of them got there, so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you
all the steps that had gone before.
You listen for a while, until you decide that
you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar.
answers; you answer . . . another comes to your defense; another aligns against
you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent, depending
upon the quality of your ally’s assistance.
However, the discussion is
The hour grows late, you must depart.
And you do depart, with the
discussion vigorously in progress.
Entering into theological conversation is to participate in a discussion that began long
before we arrived, and will continue long after we have departed.
One does not have to be a member of the church to enter theological conversation,
nor does one have even to be particularly religious.
In fact, one does not have even to
believe in God.
To enter into the theological conversation does not presume a particular
Many convictions of faith are represented in the theological conversation,
including the conviction that there is no god.
When thoughts and opinions about God,
along with other matters related to faith’s commitment and conviction, come to
expression we have entered upon theology.
One does not have to participate very long in the theological conversation before