Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Religion and theology
Theology is an attempt by religious people to construct a version of their faith that they can intellectually assent to. There are many oddities in Christianity (such as the paradox of evil) and not everybody can simply ignore them.
I notice that with Rudolf Bultmann (1884 – 1976), a noted Lutheran theologian. He is something of a villain to traditional Christians because of his dismissal of Bible stories as essentially fairy stories. Yet if you read of his life and works you can see that he was a deeply religious man. He was not aiming so much to attack Christianity as to make it something that he could believe in.
I think that I am an instinctively religious person too. I was certainly religious in my now-distant teens. But in the end I cannot do as Bultmann did. I cannot construct a version of Christianity in which I can have faith. So I remain a sympathizer with Christianity but not a Christian myself. I sometimes wish it were otherwise but rationality intervenes and I remain an atheist.
I am reminded in that connection of a relative of mine who in his youth was an Assembly of God minister. But you don't have to have much in the way of qualifications to be an AOG minister. You just have to have the spirit. For those who don't know it, the AOG is a very fundamentalist group.
After a while however he decided that he needed to study theology. So I said to him: "Don't or you will lose the faith". But he did and he did. He is a very knowledgeable academic now.