Common Evils in Discussing Theology

29 Dec

It is impossible to divorce a person’s character from his study of God. Ungodly character even impacts the way we discuss theological concepts.

John Frame writes, “I believe that many of the ambiguities, fallacies, and superficialities that abound in theology are failures of character as much as (or more than) intellect. Many of these could be avoided if theologians showed a bit more love towards their opponents and their readers, a bit more humility about their own level of knowledge, a bit more indulgence in pursuing the truth, a little more simple fairness and honesty.”

[Though in some circles simply doing that and asking others to do that could cause people to start calling you postmodern!]

He then illustrates several of the worst theological practices that flow from an ungodly character.

1. The practice of taking an opponents view in the worst possible sense, without first seeking to find a way of interpreting him so that his view is more plausible or even correct.

2. Another theological evil is that of trying to appear more orthodox than you are by concealing, for certain readers, the more controversial features of your position.

3. In expounding his opponent’s views, the theologian may present only the most controversial or objectionable features of his opponent’s position.

4. A common form of unclarity occurs when the theologian states the traditional or orthodox view in untraditionally vague language, so that his own view, however radical or new, may appear to be within the bounds of orthodoxy.

5. Some theologians leave the impression that their view is the only alternative to another or group of others that is obviously objectionable.

6. Sometimes, a theologian will attack the view of another simply by offering arguments for his own view, not even considering the argument’s underlying his opponent’s position.

7. Often a theologian will correctly identify a weakness in the view of another but will play that weakness for far more than it is really worth.

The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, p.323-326

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