Monday, November 29, 2010

A conversation on the place of theology over the weekend

A friend (AF): Why didn't God make everything clear to all humans when he created them? Why did he wait until so long to disclose himself to his creatures?

Sze Zeng (SZ): May be at that time, humans were not ready to receive such knowledge. I'm not God, so I'm not speaking for him. Just a "may be." It's like we have to teach our children ABC before showing them the Nicene Creed.

AF: I don't understand why theologians need to write so many books just to talk about simple things like God's love for humans. God is just so simple. He just want us to know and love him and that's all. We, especially the theologians, are the ones that complicate things. We make up theologies to complicate our lives.

SZ: Well, it is simple because we are receiving what have been passed down to us. And those traditions that have been passed down were not that simple initially. For example, the doctrine of the Trinity was the articulation resulted from almost four centuries of prayerful debate and arguments among theologians.

When Jesus was around, the Jews at his time were astounded as to how should they, being monotheist, relate to this new reality that seemed to them as representing the one they worship. From there, theologians over a few centuries worked out a conception that has been passed down until our time. We have taken all these for granted and think that these are easy. But there were not so in the beginning.

Nah, here is a book that record how difficult it was in that time to come out with something that we take for granted (passed a copy of R. P. C. Hanson's The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God: The Arian Controversy, 318-381 to AF).

AF: What I don't like about books written by theologians is that they seldom, if at all, refer to the Bible in their writings. That's why I stop reading Alvin Plantinga's God, Freedom, and Evil after going through half the introductory chapter.

SZ: People like Plantinga wrote those works by taking the Bible and other established Christian beliefs for granted. Their works are building on what many other theologians have done in the past thousand years. Even the Bible itself is taken for granted nowadays. Initially there were so many manuscripts that theologians in the past had to work hard to sort out the canon.

AF: I see. Okay, I will read up and we'll talk again next week.

SZ: Enjoy reading ya.


Michelle said...

By the way, do you have plans to write a book ? ;)

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Michelle,

Sorry for this late reply. The blogger system didn't send me any email to notify that there are new comments.

To your question, it is not easy to write a book. I plan to, but planning is one thing, while willing publisher to print and market your book is another :)