Everyone has these frameworks. Most of the time, they go unexamined. Usually great suffering brings them to the forefront, or great surprises, or great confrontation. We find ourselves asking questions like “If God is so……” or saying things like “I thought that….” or “It’s wrong to…” It’s at these moments that everyone’s a theologian. Not a great theologian, maybe–we probably aren’t all that consistent and are usually pretty blind to our prejudices–but the ways we think about the world and our place in it rise to the surface.
We have theological frameworks that we operate with. How engaged or disengaged God is in our lives, how holy the church should or shouldn’t be, what we should or shouldn’t expect of non-Christians, how we should structure a country economically. The Should’s reveal our theological frameworks.
And we filter life, too. What we hear and see or don’t hear and see, who we allow to influence us or not influence us. Happenstance and chance filter life for us: where we’re born and what language we speak and what climate we live in. The choices our parents and institutions and others around us make filter life for us.
Between the frameworks we live with and the filters that we’re surrounded by, it can be very, very difficult to get to the nuts and bolts of an issue, to get to universals, or objectivity, when it comes to thinking deeply about theological things. And the reason I mention this is that we are all stuck in the molasses of our circumstances, our prejudices, and our philosophies. Frameworks and filters are real, and part of reflecting theologically on life is to take stock of what we’ve accepted as right that isn’t right. This is something that we have to deal with even as we narrate to ourselves our life events, analyze what’s going on, make meaning of life and enact what we see.
We are texts in a context, and we can’t forget this as we enter into the process of making faith-sense of what’s going on in our lives. And if we remember this, we’ll do an important thing, a “must” when it comes to living a theological life, which is to go outside ourselves for counsel.
Post Written by Pastor Rich Hagopian