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Review Essay, Keeping the Balance

W. Simpson

Approaching theological Study, David Field (25pgs)

Outline provided by the author

[Opening words/Introduction] 13
Open mind or empty mind 17
The professional 22
   Dypsychos 27
   The academic and the practical 29
   Academic study and personal belief 31
Personalia 33

In the first essay, Approaching theological study, David Field (a former lecturer at Oak Hill Theological College, London) examines what sort of attitude we should have towards theological studies, our practical and devotional lives, our personal beliefs, other people’s ideas, and other people in general. Approaching theological studies with the right frame of mind is important if we want to be successful.

The subject of theology Field acknowledges from the beginning that a course in academic theology can leave people worse off than before. Among other things, the “contemporary theological atmosphere” is often hard for believers to breathe in. He is also quick to note that there are many successful men and women in the ministry who have not received any formal theological training. God uses all sorts of people, and that’s wonderful! Nevertheless, David Field believes that a theological education, when it is approached in the right way, can be extremely beneficial, and the educated theologian plays an important role in the Church. Theology, he reminds us, “is basically the attempt to think and talk about God”. Every Christian is, in that sense, a theologian and has a theology. Since we’re going to do theology anyway, Field believes we might as well do a good job of it! Indeed, without “a sound grasp of theological theory”, we run the “great risk of saying untrue things about God”. Throughout the Bible, God’s leaders, whether or not they were educated in the great academic institutions of their time, were “steeped in knowledge of the Scriptures”. Jesus’ own disciples were undoubtedly subjected to “rigorous, personal tuition in the great biblical subjects with which the theological student still has to grapple”.

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Category: In Depth, Spring 2006

About the Author: W. Simpson, PhD (University of St. Andrews, Scotland), is a physicist and writer with an interest in theology, currently engaged in scientific research in the middle-east.

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