Thursday, November 29, 2007

Theology Across the Boundaries

I'm back at the College of Knowledge this week and it's always a highlight to be able to worship together with the rest of this community of faith and scholarship. Yesterday morning, Dr Innes Visagie took worship. Innes is a Dutch Reformed minister with a background in philosophy and he teaches pastoral and practical theology, homiletics and counselling at HTC. According to his pen picture on the HTC site,
his research interests include Theology as Praxis: the interpreting of contemporary human experience in the light of experiences in Scripture as a hermeneutical and epistemological undertaking.
Nice! Anyway, his theme in worship was the inter-relationship between fear, authority and freedom. Rookmaaker wrote that if Christians neglect social, cultural and political responsibilities then they should not be surprised if their children or grand-children end up in concentration camps. Our theology needs to cross boundaries. I'll try to summarise Dr Visagie's message. After reading from Mark 1 about the people's declaration of the authority in Christ's teaching, he spoke about the evil of apartheid in his homeland of South Africa. The root of the regime was the fears of the minority white population. Under the regime a proportion of whites and blacks falsely imagined that this was the way things were meant to be. All were enslaved by their traditions and the initial reaction to fear, perpetrator and victim alike.

In the gospels, the scribes and Pharisees are enslaved to their traditions and are generally unable to receive the message in Christ. They are afraid. Fear is an absence of authority. They do not have authority in the interpretation or proclamation of God's law. In the garden Adam was given authority from God, and this was freedom. After the fall, his authority was damaged and fear and enslavement ensued. In Christ, God speaks with authority into the world and gives authority to his son as a man, the Second Adam. This authority brings freedom, and release from fear. Jesus has authority to interpret and proclaim God's message. We participate as believers in the authority and freedom of Christ, but we too must be careful not to become enslaved to traditions through fear.

This was excellent stuff. Reflections on political realities as examples of theological realities aids in our understanding of the human condition and therefore in applying our theology to the various parts of our experience - this was theology across the boundaries.