Doing theology

Daily Reading for November 4

If by “Anglican theology” we mean a set of definitive texts, creeds, and historical documents that sets Anglicans apart from other Christian bodies, we will search in vain to find it. We can, however, find a wide array of theologies being done by Anglicans. And there is a difference. Noting how Anglicans do theology may prove more fruitful than detailing what Anglicans believe. This doesn’t mean Anglican Christianity has no theological content. To the contrary, Anglicans actually do hold some strong theological convictions. Yet these convictions emerge as a function of how we go about the business of putting our faith into practice, of how we manage to dance, both with God and with each other.

The fluid character of Anglican Christianity continually provokes controversy, as any diocesan convention in the Episcopal Church amply demonstrates. How Anglicans struggle through such controversies offers an important insight into Christian faith more generally. Rather than a set of propositions to which we give our assent, Christian faith is something we hammer out, struggle with, knead like clay, sweat over, and, thankfully, dance to as we hear music we have always longed to hear. It won’t be handed to us in a biblical text. We won’t find it preserved for us in a historical creed or in a diocesan resolution. It won’t suddenly emerge in a perfectly crafted liturgy. All of these are important tools, without which our faith would be greatly impoverished, if not impossible to practice. Nevertheless, they are tools, and like every tool, they are designed for us, for actually doing something as we continue to journey, stumble, dance, and trip our way into what Jesus called the “kingdom of God.”

From Dancing with God: Anglican Christianity and the Practice of Hope by Jay Emerson Johnson. Copyright © 2005. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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