Jan 21, 2005

Theology or Theophany?

Karl Barth, the Swiss theologian, famously remarked that (paraphrasing here) "Christianity is not a religion; it is God's revelation to man. Everything else is religion; man's attempt to reach God." I have become convinced that theology is man's attempt to turn the revelation of God into a religion (or more accurately, religions).

Several years ago, I was shocked and troubled by a friend telling me about his Salvation Army father receiving communion in a liturgical, "small c catholic" church. The problem was that he wasn't baptized.

The Salvation Army doesn't teach or administer the Sacraments because when William Booth (a former Methodist minister) founded the Army, he wanted to avoid the very things that Christians fought and killed each other over. Although I rejected this approach (and still do, but only if it is a teaching AGAINST the Sacraments), I was intrigued.

Now, I have come to the belief that they were absolutely right. What they were/are against was the THEOLOGY of the Sacraments. That's where the bitter fighting and disagreements came from: theology. Man, with Satan's aid, took a Theophany witnessed and understood by fishermen, carpenters, soldiers, and tax collectors and turned it into a theology for doctors, lawyers, scribes, politicians, and professors.

Christus mas, por favor.

\The*oph"a*ny\, n.; pl. {-nies}. [Gr. ?; ? God + ? to appear.]

A manifestation of God to man by actual appearance, usually
as an incarnation.

\The*ol"o*gy\, n.; pl. {Theologies}. [L. theologia, Gr.

?; ? God + ? discourse: cf. F. th['e]ologie. See {Theism},
and {Logic}.]
The science of God or of religion; the science which treats
of the existence, character, and attributes of God, his laws
and government, the doctrines we are to believe, and the
duties we are to practice; divinity; (as more commonly
understood) ``the knowledge derivable from the Scriptures,
the systematic exhibition of revealed truth, the science of
Christian faith and life.''

Many speak of theology as a science of religion
[instead of ``science of God''] because they disbelieve
that there is any knowledge of God to be attained.
--Prof. R.Flint (Enc.Brit.).

Theology is ordered knowledge; representing in the
region of the intellect what religion represents in the
heart and life of man. --Gladstone.

{Ascetic theology}, {Natural theology}. See {Ascetic},

{Moral theology}, that phase of theology which is concerned
with moral character and conduct.

{Revealed theology}, theology which is to be learned only
from revelation.

{Scholastic theology}, theology as taught by the scholastics,
or as prosecuted after their principles and methods.

{Speculative theology}, theology as founded upon, or
influenced by, speculation or metaphysical philosophy.

{Systematic theology}, that branch of theology of which the
aim is to reduce all revealed truth to a series of
statements that together shall constitute an organized
whole. --E. G. Robinson (Johnson's Cyc.).

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