Correct Theology

I've written about before how psychologists approach the issue of theory, and how that has affected my approach to theology.

Specifically, psychologists approach theories pragmatically, as tools to help in clinical situations. Basically, is this theory helpful and useful?

I approach theology the same way. This is a unique approach. Most theologians are trained in, or eventually fall in with, a theological "school," working from a distinctive theological position over against "rival" theological schools. For example, you might find social Trinitarians and classical Trinitarians going to war.

I don't come from a theological "school." I pick up and lay down theology as it becomes more or less helpful and useful.

But how to I judge useful and helpful?

In two ways. First, I'll explore how a theological perspective cashes out psychologically, morally, and socially. How does this theology affect human hearts and minds? What sort of values and ethical actions does this theological view set into motion? And how does this theology affect community and the church?

The second way I evaluate a theological view is how it helps address specific theological problems, like the atonement or theodicy. No theological "school" is bulletproof, they are collections of strengths and weaknesses, and these can be evaluated and explored by setting the "schools" side by side as you consider theological issues and questions. For example, Karl Barth is good for some things, but not for others. Same with liberation theology. Same for Augustine. Same for Tillich. And so on.

All that to say, again, my approach to theology is very pragmatic.

But in reading Katherine Sonderegger's Systematic Theology: The Doctrine of God she shares another reason for evaluating theological proposals: gratitude and praise. Sonderegger writes:
...[T]he doctrine of God is most fittingly pursued and explicated as a form of gratitude and praise, for this is our spiritual worship. In the end, this only can serve as warrant for our [theological] novelty, that God will be more fittingly praised by such change.
I like that a lot. The goal of theology is to facilitate greater gratitude and praise.

The "correct" theology is the theology that prompts in us greater thanksgiving and worship.

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