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Our Existence in its Questionableness: The Nature of Theology

“Christian theology is not a detached, purely theoretical abstraction, which has somehow to be made practical.  It itself is the voice of man’s actual existence in movement from darkness toward the light.  We cannot treat the ignorance and confusions of our rational minds as merely preliminary problems, which if once solved, still leave us unfructified by the gospel.  They are an essential part of the evil from which Christ redeems us.  Coming to an understanding – a coherent understanding that can be shared with others – of God’s work in Christ is as such a share in his life.  For the questions investigated by theology, such as the question of suffering considered above, are not intellectual questions, devised by the mind out of its own imperial curiosity.  They are the questions of our existence, the are our existence itself in its questionableness.  That is why the discovering of light by means of our reason in these matters belongs to the very heart of our fellowship with God.  However technical its language or abstract its concepts, theology should never have to be made ‘relevant.’  From beginning to end it is embedded in the most relevant process in the world: God’s transfiguration of human existence.”

–Arthur McGill, Suffering: A Test of Theological Method (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1982), 122.


  1. Yes. Thanks for sharing this.

    Friday, January 25, 2008 at 3:44 pm | Permalink
  2. Ben Myers wrote:

    Recently I saw Kevin Vanhoozer, and I asked him when he’s going to write his dogmatics. He smiled and said: “I haven’t suffered enough yet!”

    Friday, January 25, 2008 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

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