I think as I reflect on my last few posts on theology, especially the Abolitionists, their readings of Scripture, as well as Roger Olson’s criticism of Jonathan Edwards (about God not having free will), I am drawn more and more to arguments in favor of Christ-centered theologies and biblical hermeneutics, at least from a theologian’s standpoint. Now, some may say the undergirding message of the Bible may be political liberation and others God’s glory, and these themes are in there, but it is Jesus who places a body on these abstract concepts as the Liberator and Messiah.
What I am NOT saying is that we look at the Hebrew Bible, and find everything to be an allegory for Jesus and talk about how a dis-incarnate Christ moved about in the world. I still stand by my previous statements that this takes away from the histories of interactions between particular human bodies and communities. Without the Incarnation, there is no Christ. Know Incarnation, know Christ.
I think what I am beginning to argue is this: if there is a Christian theologian who makes a claim, I want to continually ask, “What does Jesus have to do with that?” Oh, so God is glorified and satisfied in Himself? What does Jesus have to do with that? We need to have interfaith dialogue? Where would Jesus enter that conversation? According to historical Christianity, Jesus is Revelation, the Word of God (John 1), and the perfect standard by which we judge human activity and thought. For Gentile Christians, he is the key to understanding all of the scriptures.
Yesterday my friend T.C. shared a video from the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding, a conversation about whether or not Black U.S. American Christians can trust slave-holding theologies from a person like Jonathan Edwards: you can see the video linked here:Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile: Jonathan Edwards and American Racism: Can the Theology of a Slave Owner Be Trusted by Descendants of Slaves?. I think the first interlocutor, Reverend and Historical Theology PhD student Charlie Dates summed up all the questions I had for Anyabwile, and I would add even more questions, especially with me being familiar with Lemuel Haynes’ work (he was a Calvinist for a time, but he became Arminian/Wesleyan later, for example).
I think I am beginning to see how crucial Christology is for theology, and how a critical engagement along with Church history, world history, and the social sciences, the humanities, etc. can take place without being too reactionary, “preachy” or “abstract” in favor of the status quo. So, what do you think is important when it comes to starting points in theology?