In his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul teaches his readers about knowledge (1 Cor. 13:8-13). Here, within time and space, knowledge is partial and dim. We see outlines and shadows, rather like sonar soundings. In contrast, when we stand in God’s presence and see him face-to-face, the former, shrouded knowledge will fall away and we will know as we have been known. Here in time and space, our theological ponderings are partial and tentative. We must acknowledge this tentativeness, hold our ponderings humbly, and remain open to community scrutiny.
Allow me to recommend a way of doing theology together: describe, analyze, sketch, decide, and communicate. The method begins with a situation needing community decision.
- Step One: Describe the situation, including reasons and purposes.
- Step Two: Analyze the situation using the Bible and practical wisdom.
- Step Three: Sketch the biblical truth and practical wisdom that must be honored in the decision.
- Step Four: Decide on a view or action that best honors the biblical truth and practical wisdom.
- Step Five: Communicate the decision to the larger community for implementation and feedback.
What Are They Saying About Theological Reflection?
by Robert L. Kinast