Christian Theology 1: Day 1

Saturday, January 13, 2007

At the eleventh hour, I decided to sign up for Christian Theology 1 and attended class today. It will happen over 2 weekends – 8 hours on Sat, 4 on Sunday afternoon and 3 on Monday evening after work.

All along, I have been going for Biblical Studies classes. The classes I have taken include:

• An Introduction to the Old Testament (2003)
• Greek Elementary 1 (2004)
• Greek Elementary 2 (2004)
• Exegesis of Ephesians (2005)
• Old Testament Hermeneutics and Homiletics (2005)
• Romans (2006-7) uncompleted
• Study of Acts of the Apostles (2006) assignment pending

So it does take some getting used to for this Christian Theology class. We have only covered the study of the study of God and it got me still thinking and trying to work out what it means for me. It challenged me on 3 perspectives:

• I was reminded on things and issues that I need to work out
• I was challenged on some existing thoughts I have
• I was awaken to some issues which I have never much thought of before

What I need to work out
One of the issues I realised I have to work and think out is the theology of work. Throughout my working life I have never thought much about it and just went about working when the time comes after graduating to work. It never occurred to me that I need to have a theology of work to understand and live out my working life. I have been struggling with this issue for a few years now which intensified itself from the mid of last year. What and how to do it – I don’t know yet and this will most probably occupy my mind for the next few months to try to figure it out.

What challenged me
What about my existing thoughts that are being challenged? This is quite hard for me to articulate at the moment because I am still trying to work it out in my mind. During the lecture, as a foundational introduction to the module and understanding of the study of theology, the lecturer brought us briefly through the 4 critical periods leading to the study of God today. Beginning with the Patristic Period, where it is the most exciting and creative era brought about by the active minds and discussion at the presence of severe persecution. The main figures of this era include Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Lyons, Origen, Tertullian, Athanasius and Augustine of Hippo. Then came the Dark Ages when Rome fell and Islam expanded. Christianity became a minority religion and shifted its bearings to the West and got somewhat more settled in the 11th century which brings us to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance Period, where the first major schism occurred: the splitting of the Christian institution into the Eastern and the Western, bringing into existence 3 main powers:

• Byzantium: centering in Constantinople, now Istanbul, using Greek as the language;
• Western Europe: majoring in France, Germany and Italy with its center in Rome, using Latin as its major language and;
• Caliphate: the Islamic power majoring on the Mediterranean which grew and expanded to rapidly and strong that even Constantinople finally fell to its power

The stronger of the 2 Christian powers were the Western Europe who in the following period of the Reformation, where another major schism occurred: Roman Catholic and Protestants. From these ages, theology flourished but in the western thinking and reasoning. This is where I need to work out my thoughts. The lecturer mentioned about the Asian looking towards the West for most of our Christian thoughts. It is inevitable really, since we are of the colonialised and post-colonialised generation. He felt that we have thrown away a lot of Asian thinking and logic that will be useful for the study of theology: thoughts like narrative theology, other logically thinking like circular logic and parallel logic. It is hard for me because I suppose I am not conscious of what way I am thinking and to say that I need to be thinking Asian now makes me not know what to think. Talking to Noel did not help because he is very much a Western thinking person as he hails from the UK. He could not understand my problem.

What I was awakened to
But regardless of my current confusion over the way of thinking, one thing did awaken me: the thought that the study of theology must happen in a community. Theology is “God talk”: it is a tracking down of what has been said about God. It is thought out and conversed about within the body of Christ, not a do-it-yourself individualistic collection of meditations and thoughts of a hermit, solitary and recluse in his own cave.

Tomorrow, I will be leading in worship and then in the afternoon off the continue with more of Christian Theology. There will be more things to think about then – I hope I will have a big enough mind to take it all in.

Picture by Sanja Gjenero

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2 comment(s)

  1. Maybe that eastern way of thinking (narrative theology) is more like the Hebrew way of thought? I have always thought you were quite "western" in your thoughts - more than I would expected, but I don't really know. I'm not always very logical for a math major :)

  2. the Hebrew is considered eastern. Yes, I am quite western in my thoughts - the way I was brought up, the language I use, the books I read, the people I discourse with, all contributes to that, but with Asian influence, of course, though I would not realise which is which. Therefore on realising that is quite thought-provoking for me and I have been thinking about it over the weekend till now. Still thinking :)