Armchair Theologian Warning

“The Puritans made me aware that all theology is also spirituality, in the sense that is has an influence, good or bad, positive or negative, on its recipients’ relationship or lack of relationship to God. If our theology does not quicken the conscience of soften the heart , it actually hardens both: if it does not encourage the commitment of faith, it reinforces the detachment of unbelief; if it fails to promote humility, it inevitably feeds pride. So one who theologizes in public, wether formally in the pulpit, on the podium or in print, or informally from the armchair, must think hard about the effect his thoughts will have on people – God’s people, and other people.” – J.I Packer, Among God’s Giants

Theology is fun, I sometimes have a hard time understanding why large portions of christians in general would not be interested in the nuances of doctrines or applications. I love a good debate. Evenings where I get to hold court from my armchair or spark a passionate back and forth are all too rare in my opinion. However, what I have learned is that what I consider a robust past time can sometimes be a setback for others. Packer here provides an excellent reminder to me as an amateur writer and armchair theologian about the seriousness of that in which I engage. 

Puritans called the pulpit the Sacred Desk. They spoke to men as a dying man speaks to dying men. It is always good to remember the gravity of rightly handling theology. Too often it is dry and academic, yet often it is often used as a cudgel to beat into submission or drive away. Pride is what does all of those things. This is the sin that every theologian must mortify otherwise they will fail in their task at best, at worse they will travel across land and sea to make one disciple and make him twice the son of hell they are.

“Theologians are called to be the churches water engineers and sewage officers; it is their job to see that God’s pure truth flows abundantly where it is needed, and to filter out any intrusive pollution that might damage health. The sociological remoteness of theology colleges, seminaries, and university faculties of theology from the true life of the church makes it easy to forget this, and the track record of professional teachers in these units has in my time been distinctly spotty so far as concerns their responsibility to the church and to the world.” – J.I Packer, Among God’s Giants

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