Friday 12 May 2006

Are all theologians?

“A church composed of only dogmaticians would no longer be a church but a research center. ‘Are all dogmaticians?’ Paul might have added to his list in 1 Corinthians 12:29-30. The proportion of dogmatic specialists in the fellowship needs only to be small. But those who can benefit from their work needs to be many.”

—Hendrikus Berkhof, Introduction to the Study of Dogmatics (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), p. 14.


Chris Petersen said...

Great quote, Ben.

David W. Congdon said...

Yes, but...

I think Barth is right to denounce the division between theologian and layperson. If you are in the church, you are a theologian. Of course, that is very different from being a professional dogmatician. I think pastors need to encourage all parishioners to view themselves as theologians, because the task of speaking appropriately of God is one given to all, not just those educationally trained to do so.

Anonymous said...

There is lovely letter that Barth wrote in January 1968 to a pastor who was organising a conference for "non-theologians" on Barth's theology. Barth wishes the project well and hopes "that the participants will not find it dull and tedious but will find some joy in it and even laugh a little."

"There is only one thing . . . , dear pastor," Barth concludes, "that does not please me, namely that you call your enterprise a conference for non-theologians. I think that if you, pastor, could impress it on your fellows, and the participants could grasp the fact that in the church of Jesus Christ there can and should be no non-theologians, but that each man or woman, however simple, is called upon to be an even better theologian than K.B., you would have understood me and my theology."

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