Saturday, November 22, 2014

C.K. Barrett on the Role of a Theologian

I have been reading C.K. Barrett's essay, "Theology in the World of Learning", where Barrett defends theology as an academic discipline and was impressed with this quote among many others:

C.K. Barrett (1917-2011)
 If the Church were simply identifiable with an institution, and truth with a credal formula, then indeed theology would cease to be an academic discipline, however learned theologians might be. So far as theologians do make these identifications, they exclude themselves from equal intellectual commerce with their colleagues in other disciplines. But no theologian is required by his subject-matter, by his own terms of reference, to do this. The Bible itself knows no handy, external method for distinguishing false prophets from true, and reminds its readers that we walk by faith, not by sight. It is this fact that compels the intelligent Christian, and in particular the professional theologian, to constant sifting, examination, revaluation. If he is too lazy, or too cowardly, to face this process, he not only abdicates his academic responsibility, he apostasizes from the faith. Apostasy is far more likely to come from failure to think than from excess of critical zeal. Theology, one might say, never is, but is always becoming (Italics mine).

C. K. Barrett, New Testament Essays (London: S.P.C.K, 1972), 154.

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