Many people have diaries full of activities but never stop to think theologically about why they do what they do. I got used to the fact now that practical theology will always be vulnerable to the criticism of impracticality or uselessness. Some do not like it, some can’t be bothered, and some are intimidated by it.
Theology, and more specifically theological reflection, is a great tool to help us slow down in our crazy race for more achievement and significance. Action without reflection may well be irresponsible, but reflection without action is sterile.
Things have changed that’s for sure; theology has become more and more accessible, though we still have a long way to go to get it from the libraries and classrooms to the streets, offices and even churches. Wouldn’t it be great to see more theology done in the local church, at church council meetings, in small group settings and in coffee shops over a great latte; to see theological reflection driving our planning and budgeting, our mission and programs.
It is interesting that when we do offer something that is thought through theologically it does actually produce refreshing and renewal. It is exciting to enter the conversations that have been going on for years before we even realized what the questions are. Conversations about the meaning of life, the meaning of work, love, death, salvation.
A lot of people still do not know where to begin theological reflection. Some have very great spirituality but very poor theology. Others have great theology but can not express it in their spirituality. I believe that the answer to shallow living is deep theological reflection. We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflection upon experience. The starting point is stories that arise from our own life. We then look for roots and answers why things are the way they are. As we shine the light of our faith upon the reality of our life we gain more insight and a higher level of motivation for action. Insight and motivation are both important as we move toward action.
“Serious thinking about the meaning of Christian faith can and does take place anywhere. It goes on while conversing, worshiping, weathering a life crisis, keeping up with the latest news, working, taking some time out for recreation. Wherever and whenever it occurs, theological reflection is not only a personal but also an interactive, dialogical and community-related process. The voices of others are heard. Some of these voices, like those of the biblical writers, come from texts of centuries past. Others are those of our contemporaries. Still others are our own. These voices offer us food for thought to be heeded or debated or improved upon or set aside as unhelpful. To engage in theological reflection is to join an ongoing conversation with others that began long before we ever came along and will continue long after we have passed away.” Howard W. Stone and James O. Duke
Joanna has a passion for mentoring female leaders to become mentors for a new generation. She is a founding director of One Rock, a board member of Renovare UK, and an associate lecturer at Oasis College. In her spare time she loves taking photographs of nature, and playing with her cat Chester.