Re: The state of suburban theology

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Fri Jun 11 2004 - 16:11:38 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Howard J. Van Till" <>
To: "ASA Listserver" <>
Sent: Friday, June 11, 2004 3:07 PM
Subject: The state of suburban theology

> Perhaps it's time to return to a topic in religion and science. Here's
> another quotation that might stimulate some comment.
> The context: The author is reflecting on what he sees as "two interrelated
> concepts: the mechanistic theory of nature and the concept of God
> over the universe but essentially outside it (deism)."
> "Deism was the compromise which religion made with mechanism. It was
> no more than a transparent frock put over the ugly skeleton of a
> universe.... It should have been torn to shreds. Instead the garment has
> been preserved, at least in bits and pieces, by much of traditional
> to this day. This has happened despite the fact that informed theology has
> completely disposed of it. And that is the tragedy of our time. The
> that comes out of informed theological circles today has scarcely an echo
> from the suburban pulpit. Suburban theology is one hundred years out of
> date. If you want to be informed on these matters, you have a much better
> chance by picking up a few paperbacks in any bookshop than by listening
> the pews."

        While there has been a considerable resurgence in serious
theology-science discussion over the past 20+ years, too much of it has been
purely academic with little attempt to help those in pulpits to address
issues raised by science & technology in appropriate ways. (& I don't mean
giving science lectures instead of sermons.) Christians who deal with
matters need to look for ways to make their expertise helpful for
proclamation of law & gospel. An essential part of that of course is
getting clergy to understand what the scientific & technological realities &
issues are. In the theology-science course that I teach at Trinity in
Columbus I
try to treat science, theology & their interface in appropriately scholarly
ways in lectures but also give a strong focus to dealing with those
situations in situations of ministry that seminary students are likely to
encounter - preaching, parish ed, &c. On the 1st day I start with some
mini-case studies of real situations - like the parishoner who hands them a
clipping of how NASA proved Joshua' long day & suggests a sermon on it or
situations in practical bioethics. I don't have them do a term paper on
some academic subject but require things like a sermon or a lesson plan for
a confirmation class dealing with Genesis 1 or something similar.

Received on Fri Jun 11 16:35:10 2004

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