Archive for January 7th, 2008

My reactions to the post (and subsequent comments) of a Rich Mullins quote included; eye-rolling, head nodding, and my own contributions. The reactions were reflections of incredulity (akin to Joe when he said “…WOW, just WOW”), agreement (akin to the first two comments), and my own thoughts, respectively. I think the problem with exegeting the quote so precisely lies in the fact that a) we have no context, b) Mullins was a songwriter, a poet – not that being a poet allows him to be sloppy in his expressions, but as is true of all poetry (even biblical poetry) the genre must be taken into consideration, and c) some people tend to think in false dichotomies or overly reduced/simplified mutually exclusive categories so they tend to ignore a) and b).

Since such a simple quote created a litany of comments and the inevitable discussion of our ability to “know” – I submit this quote. It is longer, theologically deeper, probably no less “attackable.” It is more precise, and promotes the caution against holding “systematized theology” too tightly. It also comes from a theologian who is dead – which seems to add credibility is some circles.

From the opus magnum of David Bosch, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission, 1991, pp. 186-197:

“[T]he real point here is that one should in all research, whether in theology or the natural or social sciences, never think in mutually exclusive categories of “absolute” and “relative.” Our theologies are partial, and they are culturally and socially biased. They may never claim to be absolutes. Yet this does not make them relativistic, as though one suggests that in theology – since we really cannot ever know “absolutely” – anything goes. It is true that we see only in part, but we do see. . . . We are committed to our understanding of revelation, yet we also maintain a critical distance to that understanding. In other words, we are in principle open to other views, an attitude which does not, however, militate against complete commitment to our own understanding of truth. . . . It is misleading to believe that commitment and a self-critical attitude are mutually exclusive.”

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