Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Systematic Theology

The most conservative evangelical preachers always point to the fact that God is a God of order. From the ordered account of creation in Genesis 1-2 to the Pauline commands about order in the church they see order in everything.

Now I am an acute systematiser (see 12/8/03). I look for order in things and tend to impose order upon things. But paradoxically I tend not to learn by ordered teaching; more often than not one point in a sermon will spark my imagination and off I go - sometimes learning about what the preacher intended, other times writing a poem about it.

I can cope with a lecture, particularly if I write notes, and I can use lecture notes to pass an examination by remembering material without ever engaging with it. I think I have learnt that systematising is the way I make sense of the world but not the way everyone does.

Sometimes a sermon which throws out random thoughts and ideas at a rapid rate (if you don't like this idea ignore it there'll be another along in a minute) gets quite a good reaction from a different part of the congregation to those who like the four points to begin with the same letter or those who appreciate verse by verse exposition.

So are all the leading conservative evangelical scholars acute sytematisers who are unable to empathise with those who do not see order in everything? A God who is only a God of order would never have allowed the Bible to come to us in such a disordered way with mixed chronology, parallel passages separated by whole books and the key points in the middle not the end.

Let us celebrate a god of randomness and diversity.

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