Post-Modernity and Systematic Theology

I started a Systematic Theology class today with John Stackhouse and he started out talking about why we do Systematic Theology and all that intro type stuff… One of the things he touched on was the difference between the Modern world and the Post-Modern world. The modern world recognized the tension and irreconcilability of living as different personae in different spheres of life. While this didn’t necessarily mean that people would stop living differently, they would most likely recognize that strain (and might even feel guilty about it). Those of the post-modern frame of mind will often not even see the inconsistencies and are perfectly fine living what would traditionally be considered “fragmented” (so, of course, have nothing to feel guilty about).

In post-modern society we don’t have to worry about resolving inconsistencies. One example Stackhouse gave was a statistic from Canada (I will assume that the US has similar stats) that (roughly, as I can’t remember exactly) a very large portion of Canadians considered themselves Christian (I think it was as high as 80 or 90%) but that some 20% of those people also believed in reincarnation. This type of inconsistency within Christianity seems absurd to the traditionalist (or more conservative Evangelical) but it seems that many in the (post-modern) church don’t mind holding such views.

A solid understanding of systematic theology will help move to an if this, then that mode of thinking instead of something more fragmented. The indicative and the imperative. If I believe this, then I should act in that way. If I know this, then I should do that. We need to look for what is true, what actually is the case instead of holding belief in anything just because we think we can. Systematic theology must be a cogent theology, it must be both persuasive and significant, both non-trivial and well evidenced, well warranted. If people had a cogent systematic there would be less room for fragmented and inconsistent belief.

Along with fragmented beliefs, post-modernity brings along its distrust for authority. People are not as willing to just believe what the pastor up front has to say. This is something Christians must take seriously. Not only should we take it seriously, we should recognize that that isn’t entirely bad because we must affirm that all human authority is in the hands of sinners. Truth must still be spoken into that context.

Relationships are more important than systematic theology but in order to have a real, well founded relationship it must be based in something solid. We can’t be a very good human if we are running on bad ideas. Having an understanding of systematic theology will provide that foundation as well as allow fragmentation to be ruled out so a more healthy and cohesive belief in the One can be held.

-Matt Jones

  1. January 19th, 2006 at 14:21 | #1

    I would agree as long as the theology is coming from the Voice of the Holy Spirit. You might enjoy the Holy Spirit’s direct messages on The Holy Inheritance blog, since many of the same issues are addressed. ANyway, may you experience great blessings in your study.

  2. January 19th, 2006 at 18:01 | #2

    Without the Holy Spirit, theology is meaningless. Islam has theology, Hinduism has theology, Shinto has theology, and on and on but they lack the Holy Spirit. But that Holy Spirit blessed theology MUST be biblically founded and not just something that I happen to think comes from the Holy Spirit.

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