The following is an email I sent to my theology students for the Intro to Theology and Ethics class that I am teaching this semester. I sent this email because we just took a turn from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity to a text titled, The Essentials of Christian Theology, edited by William Placher, which is a bit more academic in tone.
Who may not be feeling so blessed right now, and who may yet be crying out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me on this Golgotha of nuanced and subtle academic theology!!” If this is so, I hope to give you a word of encouragement. To begin, just do your best to get through the reading and don’t worry too much about comprehension, as I consider it part of my job to help you decode some of the content and ideas that may not be familiar and may be somewhat challenging in the attempt to wrap your head around it. Along with this, questions are most welcome. In fact, they demonstrate your desire to learn and your engagement with the text. So, don’t be afraid to share your questions.
Also, keep in mind that there are a variety of voices across the theological spectrum represented in this anthology. So, it is alright to disagree, even to the point of thinking “Poppycock!” or perhaps words of a less savory nature, which would not be fitting to print in an email that will be transmitted via a Mennonite email server. Amidst disagreement, however, I would like you to try to both identify what the author’s concerns are even if you don’t like the author’s solution, and also try to find areas where you agree with the author. Keep in mind that your instructor tends to be quite irenic in spirit, and so he of course appreciates it when his students exhibit such qualities. Also, don’t let your instructor continue to refer to himself in the third person as it is a bit weird.
Finally, I hope there are points that excite you in this reading. I have certainly found it exciting, and in fact it is my intention to buy a couple of books by Stanley Grenz this weekend, particularly The Social God and the Relational Self: A Trinitarian Theology of the Imago Dei, which in all geeky truth took my breath away when I read the title, as it spoke to ideas I have been long working out in my own thinking
The Lord be with you,