Reading Excerpts

The Responsibilities for Theology

…Ford (2000) posits three responsibilities for theology. In the first instance, theology has responsibilities to churches and religious communities, to help them better understand themselves and their place in the world. This aligns closely with the definition of theology we considered with Anselm earlier. Second, theology has responsibilities to the other academic disciplines: it must consider seriously their legitimate truth claims, and ask what implications these have for its own. For example, if the sciences discover something that radically challenges a theological vision of the intelligibility of the world, theology must seek out the implications of this. At the same time, theology has a responsibility to speak into the other disciplines where relevant, and to question what is sometimes a ‘creeping’ expertise, such as when a biologist utilises that discipline to make theological claims. Finally, theology has responsibilities to the wider society, both to answer its questions about religion and its place in the current context, to challenge churches and other religious communities to engage in a robust and helpful manner in this context, and also to provide mean by which to think through some of the problems associated with religion today.

Terence Lovat and Daniel Fleming, What is this thing called Theology?: Considering the Spiritual in the Public Square (Macksville, NSW: David Barlow Publishing, 2014), p 24, drawing on the work of David Ford, Theology: A very short introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

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