Friday, May 27, 2011

Baseless gossip: "Trinity Theological College is liberal and filled with apostate lecturers"

This post is to revisit an age old yet persisting issue concerning the image of the college: "Trinity Theological College (TTC) is liberal and filled with apostate lecturers."

Before I enrolled into TTC, I have personally being told by different individuals at various occasions that it as a liberal institution.

One such occasion was at one of my favorite Christian bookshop. When the manager, who is also a friend, found out that I'm going to TTC, he cautioned me to practice discernment in my studies because it is a liberal school.

After enrolling, I still hear the same impression about TTC.

A Dean of Biblical Studies from another school told me that the education philosophy of the Principal of TTC are (1) to expose or bombard the students to all kind of teachings, and (2) leave the students to learn for themselves what is to be believed, what are the orthodox doctrines. The dean also said that the faculty at TTC does not guide the students which doctrines to believe. I have previously responded to him.

In the course of my research on the theological scene in Singapore in the first half of the twentieth century, I came across this impression of TTC by a Vietnamese:
"I came to the Trinity Theological College (TTC) in July 1999, and after studying there for one month I decided to go back home due to her liberal and modernist teachings."
(Hien Gia Nguyen, 'Remembering the Late Rev Dr Timothy Tow' in Bible Witness, vol. 9, issue 2, ed. Prabhudas Koshy [Singapore: Bible Witness Media Ministry of Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church, 2008], p. 27. Bible Witness website: http://biblewitness.com/resources/magazines/Vol09_Iss02.pdf [accessed 27 May 2011]).
Besides that, a friend made a few passionate remarks about the college too:
"There are numerous seminaries today who are nothing but places of empty academia, where faculties hold to a very low view of Scripture and who espouse modernistic and humanistic theologies.[...] Many of these places started as God-honouring, Bible-believing and Christ-centred institutions but have succumbed to the appeal of academic respectability. Trinity Theological College in Singapore is one such damning institution. By trying to be academically respectable, it has compromised much in historic Christianity and the cherished doctrines of the Faith."
(Biblical Religion blog: Benjamin Chew, Questions to ask about a theological seminary, dated 7 May 2011, http://biblicalreligion.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/questions-to-ask-about-a-theological-seminary/ [accessed 27 May 2011].)

"Although Trinity Theological College (TTC) has one of the most stellar faculties in Singapore, it is an ecumenical institution that has succumbed to a fair amount of theological liberalism and modernism. If I remember correctly, it was in 2009 that they had a student exchange programme with Yale Divinity School. Yale?! It is an institution that is as apostate as any Word-Faith heretic."
(Biblical Religion blog: Benjamin Chew, Theological education in Singapore, dated 3 May 2011, http://biblicalreligion.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/theological-education-in-singapore/ [accessed 27 May 2011].)
In a recent post he expressed concern over my passion for God being "wax cold" after "attending classes led by apostate lecturers who don’t believe the very truths they profess to represent."
(Biblical Religion blog: Benjamin Chew, Yes you can understand your bible, dated 25 May 2011, http://biblicalreligion.wordpress.com/2011/05/25/yes-you-can-understand-your-bible/ [accessed 27 May 2011].)

He got the impression that I am "wax cold" based solely on his reading of this post alone, without regard to all the works that I have been doing (one example), not least the other blog posts which simply point to the contrary.

Tragically this is the image of TTC among certain quarters in the Christian community in this part of the world: It is a liberal institution filled with apostate lecturers.

As I surveyed these and other similar hearsay about TTC, I found out that all who hold on to the impression that TTC is a liberal college and keep spreading such impression share two similar characteristics:

1) They adopt the liberal-conservative distinction.

2) They see the academia and the Churches under the liberal-conservative distinction.

These two characteristics are simply mistaken for the following reason.

Basically there is no unanimous agreement over the criteria for something to be considered "liberal" and "conservative." The same with the categorization of "left" and "right." To give an example, what is considered "left" in Canada is "right" in U.S.A., while what is "right" in the former is "left" in the latter.

We find this same discordance when we put U.S.A. and U.K. side by side. The "right" in U.S.A. is the "left" in U.K., and vice versa.

Similarly among the Churches, what is "liberal" to a local community is "conservative" to another. So which one is "liberal" and which one is "conservative"? And who decides?

For someone to use this distinction, one has to first list out the criteria for both categories. Yet it is precisely because there is no unanimous agreement on which criterion should belongs to which that devastatingly undermines the validity of such distinction.

Besides that, such label is useless to indicate the truthfulness of one position over another. Label simply doesn't say anything about the truthfulness of anything. That is the reason why F. F. Bruce, who "is known worldwide as the dean of evangelical biblical scholars," refuses such category:

"I cannot remember a time when I did not hold this [Jesus' saving works] to be the essence of the gospel, but questions which attached themselves to it in earlier days have apparently resolved themselves. It is for this reason that I am always happy to be called an evangelical, although I insist on being an unqualified evangelical. I do not willingly answer, for example, to such designations as ‘conservative evangelical’. (Many of my positions are indeed conservative; but I hold them not because they are conservative – still less because I myself am conservative – but because I believe they are the positions to which the evidence leads)."
(F. F. Bruce, In Retrospect: Remembrance of Things Past [USA: Baker, 1994], p. 309. Emphasis added.)

In other words, the "liberal" and "conservative" distinction is nothing but the product of an arbitrary will and does not attest to the truthfulness of anything.

Hence, to force such an arbitrary category on others solely on the basis that the others are different from us is utterly disrespectful. In fact, that is how racism works.

For instance, the distinction between the Tutsi and Hutu in Rwanda began as a class difference which later asserted as a 'race'. And the result is, as we all know, the Rwanda Genocide in 1994 where 800,000 people are massacred because of such arbitrary distinction.

As shown by the late historian Alison Liebhafsky Des Forges, who is recognized for her research on Rwanda history, the 'Tutsi' were actually pastoralists who were wealthy and influential while the 'Hutu' were the rest of the people who were less wealthy and so subject to the former.

The class distinction later being arbitrated as a race distinction where the Tutsi and Hutu are recognized by their physical features:
"Most people married within the occupational group in which they had been raised. This practice created a shared gene pool within each group, which meant that over generations pastoralists came to look more like other pastoralists—tall, thin and narrow-featured—and cultivators like other cultivators—shorter, stronger, and with broader features."
(Human Rights Watch website: Alison Liebhafsky Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda, http://www.hrw.org/legacy/reports/1999/rwanda/Geno1-3-09.htm#P200_83746 [accessed 27 May 2011]. Thanks to Edmund Koh for this reference in his essay on Rwanda.)

Due to the imposition of the forced categories on the people, "During the genocide some persons who were legally Hutu were killed as Tutsi because they looked Tutsi. According to one witness, Hutu relatives of Col. Tharcisse Renzaho, the prefect of the city of Kigali, were killed at a barrier after having been mistaken for Tutsi." (Ibid. Emphasis added)

The same arbitrary mechanism that fuels racism is the same that fuels the liberal-conservative distinction.

Following the above reason, we can now understand better why most of those who believe and propagate the mythic image that "TTC is a liberal college filled with apostate lecturers" are so ready to give in to the gossip.

Given the flimsy adoption of the liberal-conservative category, their standing to attest to anything true is seriously suspect.

To see more of this point, most of those who blindly believe the gossip have not (1) taken up any full-time courses, or (2) participated in the community life of TTC, or (3) both. I said "most" because I think there are a few who still believe the gossip after being part of TTC. However this is besides the point.

In the end, whether one is "liberal" or "conservative" is purely subjective to individual's arbitrary assessment. Of course, the individual may say that his or her assessment is based on the Bible.

Yet it is not difficult for anyone who exercises some degree of self-reflection/critique would realize that there is no such thing as "based on the Bible." It's always based on our understanding of the Bible.

No doubt the person can claim that he/she received revelation or some kind of special guidance (illumination) from God to know what exactly the Bible says. Well, so can everyone else. So in the end, everyone is liberal and heretical to everyone.

So who is the real liberal and heretic?

15 comments:

Jason said...

Great question at the end - who is the real liberal and heretic?

I hope a part of my book review on "A Little Exercise for Young Theologians by Helmut Thielicke" will help answer or cause us to ponder further (especially for anyone who think they have got all the answers(and labels))

"Thielicke concludes the book by claiming that good or bad theology has to do with the life of the theologian rather than the study of theology itself. This he asserts by stating that a person without the spirit will automatically further a false theology. Now that is a bold statement, but on recounting the arguments Thielicke has explored and the many examples he had shown, I believe this to be true. This is an intriguing challenge to my understanding of orthodoxy and it has made me realized that God is more concerned with one’s life than with what we regard as correct theological reflections. Theology is after all a man’s enterprise and while there is such a thing as orthodoxy, not living that theology out is as good as championing heresy (or what Thielicke called diabolical theology). Why I say this is because I believe theology is caught rather than taught. A theologian can be taught all the right terms and doctrines, but unless he catches what it means to apply and live out those understandings, he is but a spiritually dead person. And a spiritually dead person can teach orthodox theology, but his lifestyle will impart heresy. This “little exercise” has taught me that if my relationship with Christ is good, my theological study will inevitably result in good theology. Therefore, orthodoxy, as important as it is, is not the key component in theological study but a spirit-filled life is."

Can the real liberal or heretic please stand up?

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Jason,

Well-written summary of Thielicke's point. Thank you for sharing it here.

I can sympathize with your reading that theology is caught rather than taught. BTW it's a good play of words. :)

reasonable said...

Hi Jason,

Your points stimulated some thoughts so just like to share some of the stimulated thoughts here :)

[I have read that little book of "A Little Exercise..." too]


1. You wrote: "it has made me realized that God is more concerned with one’s life than with what we regard as correct theological reflections"

I think so too. God probably accepts a compassionate Buddhist into His presence while rejecting a very selfish Christian with orthodox theology


2. You wrote: "A theologian can be taught all the right terms and doctrines, but unless he catches what it means to apply and live out those understandings, he is but a spiritually dead person."

True. However, having said that, we ought not to forget that there is still an category distinction between correct theology and correct living. The two should not be confused with each other.

Correct living itself is not correct theology. A person can live correctly (in the sense of living in a way that pleases God) while having an incorrect theology.

While I agree that correct living is more important than correct theology, correct theology has its own important place.

And correct living is no guarantee or correct theology. I mention all these because your next statement, quoted in the next point, is where errors start to creep in.


3. You said: "This 'little exercise' has taught me that if my relationship with Christ is good, my theological study WILL INEVITABLY result in good theology."

I very much doubt the idea contained in what you said (quoted above).

Right living does not guarantee right thinking. Right relationship with the Messiah WILL NOT INEVITABLY result in good (or correct) theology.

Correct Theology is categorically distinct from Correct Relationship with Jesus. Neither one necessarily implies the other. Neither one necessarily lead to the other.


4. You said: "Therefore, orthodoxy, as important as it is, is not the key component in theological study but a spirit-filled life is."

Theological Study is an academic discipline that can be taken by both non-Christians and Christians. There is no need of any "spirit-filled life" for an academic to be a student or a lecturer or a scholar in Theology. A Spirit-filled life (depending on what one means by this) is a key component in Christian living, but not the academic discipline of theological studies.

(e.g. one does not need to be a non-smoker to teach correctly the health hazards of smoking)

Jason said...

Hi Reasonable,
Thanks for your insights. My response:

2. Agree, there is a distinction. But I’ll like to add in something. I would say that correct living and correct theology is distinct but inseparable. We tend to come with a Western view that equates distinction with separation but I prefer to see it as very much intertwined. (more of this in pt 3)

3. Yes, it is a bold statement to make. I must first clarify that this is a short book review with limited words so there are many things I don’t have space to explain. Depending on how a person defines theology, it is possible to say that right relationship can result in right theology.

To quote Graeme Goldsworthy, “Every Christian by definition knows God, thinks about God and makes statements about God. So you are a theologian. Part of being a Christian is that we do theology.”

This reflects more of my view/definition of theology.

You wrote:“Right living does not guarantee right thinking. Right relationship with the Messiah WILL NOT INEVITABLY result in good (or correct) theology.”

Using the Goldsworthy quote, I would say, “The Christian who knows God and thinks about God rightly (right relationship + right thinking) will make statements about God correctly. (good theology).” I would say perhaps I shouldn’t have used the word “inevitably”, but the words “most likely”. After all, we’re imperfect and susceptible to making mistakes.

You wrote:“Correct Theology is categorically distinct from Correct Relationship with Jesus. Neither one necessarily implies the other. Neither one necessarily lead to the other.”

Yes, if the definition of theology is relegated to merely an academic discipline. No, if coming from a viewpoint that theology is more than just an academic discipline. (my book review has to do with the latter which I believed is closer to what Thielicke is trying to point out)

4. “Theological Study is an academic discipline that can be taken by both non-Christians and Christians. There is no need of any "spirit-filled life" for an academic to be a student or a lecturer or a scholar in Theology. A Spirit-filled life (depending on what one means by this) is a key component in Christian living, but not the academic discipline of theological studies.”

Thank you for your views. But again, I am not talking about theological study solely from the viewpoint of merely an academic discipline which anyone can study. The “spirit-filled life” as a key component does not mean it is a requirement. The point I’m trying to put forth is that without a “spirit-filled life”, you will manifest ‘bad theology’ in the way you live your life (and eventually in the things you say) even though you may say all the right things for a start.

reasonable said...

Hi Jason, you quoted Graeme Goldsworthy, “Every Christian by definition knows God, thinks about God and makes statements about God. So you are a theologian. Part of being a Christian is that we do theology.”

The normal lay Christian is a theologian only to the extent a vegetable seller is a mathematican. A vegetable seller is doing mathematics when she/he calculates the amount of small change to give back to a customer. She/he is only in that sense a mathematician. But of course she is not in the full sense a mathematician just as a lay Christian making statements about God is also not in the full sense a theologian. Mathematics is much more than just addition and subtraction; theology is much more than just a layman’s statements such as “God cares for me” or “Jesus is my savior”.

We need to note the nuances of usage of words.

(to be continued)

reasonable said...

Hi Jason,

1. You wrote: “ Agree, there is a distinction. I would say that correct living and correct theology is distinct but inseparable. We tend to come with a Western view that equates distinction with separation”

a. Whether it is a Western or Eastern or Northern or Southern or Central concept does not determine whether or not it is a correct concept. Where it may have originated from does not determine its correctness. While in the past the general mistakes was the worship of things Western, now it may be more towards the other end.
b. Physical objects probably can have distinct but physically inseparable parts, but for two purely intellectual entities to be distinct but inseparable seems to be an oxymoron (self-contradiction). For intellectual entities, to be distinct means to be intellectually distinct, and to be separable means to be intellectually separable.

Specifically, I am curious how you can show that the intellectual idea of “right thinking” (correct theology) is distinct from the intellectual idea of “right living” and yet not possible to be intellectually separated. This is sspecially so since we have people who are exhibiting right living but wrong theology and people who have right theology (making right statements about God) but wrong living.

My proposal: as long as one purely intellectual entity is INTELLECTUALLY DISTINCT from another intellectual entity, these two intellectual entities are already INTELLECTUALLY INSEPARABLE.

2. How is right thinking (right theology) distinct but inseparable from right living? Your strategy is to re-define right thinking (right theology) in such a way that it intrinsically includes right living. If I put it in another way, what you are saying amounts to something like:
Right Thinking = Right Thinking + Right Living
That means, according to you, Right Thinking means right thinking and living correctly, such that if if the living correctly is missing, then it is not called Right Thinking (right theology). It may be like saying:
a table = a table + a chair.
It seems your way of re-defining right thinking (right theology) is intellectually cumbersome and logically invalid.


3. Do you have any empirical evidence to show that right thinking about God is inseparable from right living? Or it is just a matter of re-defining right thinking as equal to right thinking plus right living? If you opt for the re-definition route, why is it better to define right thinking in that way? Why not use another term such as “Christian living” where
Christian Living = right theology + right living? W

hy hijack “theology” to give it a cumbersome new definition?

4. If Theology is defined to include right living, than what do we call those propositional and intellectual statements about God? (a new term would need to be invented). Currently the common usage and understanding of “theology” is the intellectual discipline that involves propositional elaboration on matters such as “Nature of God”, “Creation”, “Soteriology”, “Eschatoglogy”.

reasonable said...

Hi Jason,

5. Notice that Goldsworthy, in his quoted statements “Every Christian by definition knows God, thinks about God and makes statements about God. So you are a theologian. Part of being a Christian is that we do theology” was saying something like: every Christian is doing theology when they think and talk about God. Nothing in those statements said that theology must involve right living. The quoted statements also did not say that one must be a Christian in order to do theology. Goldsworthy’s usage of theology in those quoted words implied that theology is about the intellectual stuff. His statements implied that theology does not include right living. Notice he said: “PART OF being a Christian is that we do theology.” That means being a Christian also has also another part that is not about doing theology. It seems that the other part should be about Christian living. That part is not about “thinking and making statements about God”. So the implication of Goldsworthy is that the task of thinking and making statements about God is different ( and separable?) from the other part.

Notice also that Goldsworthy did not say that every Christian thinks about God correctly or makes statements about God correctly. A Christian with right living can have bad theology and wrong thinking about God. There is no necessity for a Christian with right living to also think correctly about God or to make correct statements about God. So long as a Christian thinks and make some statements (even though they may be wrong statements), she/he is doing theology.

But the normal lay Christian is a theologian only to the extent a vegetable seller is a mathematican. A vegetable seller is doing mathematics when she/he calculates how much to small change to give back to a customer. She is in that sense a mathematician. But of course she is not in the full sense a mathematician just as a lay Christian making statements about God is also not in the full sense a theologian. Mathematics is much more than just addition and subtraction; theology is much more than just a layman’s statements such as“God cares for me” or “Jesus is my savior”.

6. You now said “it is possible to say that right relationship can result in right theology”. I agree with you new and modified statement, but I agree because almost anything is possible, and almost anything “CAN” result in something. Our life CAN be a big dream. It is possible for you to wake up one day to realized your experiences (studying in TTC etc) were just one big dream. Almost anything is possible. Wrong relationship or Wrong living also CAN RESULT in right thinking or right theology.

reasonable said...

7. You also now said “Using the Goldsworthy quote, I would say, The Christian who knows God and thinks about God rightly (right relationship + right thinking) will make statements about God correctly. (good theology). I would say perhaps I shouldn’t have used the word ‘inevitably’, but the words ‘most likely’.”

a. Yes, using “inevitably” was a big problem. Hence I emphasized “will not inevitably”.

b. But despite your modification, you new statements now contain this problematic statement: “The Christian who knows God and thinks about God rightly WILL make statements about God correctly.”
Using “will” also is too strong. Using “will” means the former will certainly lead to the latter. But there is nothing inevitably about this. Even you now realize it and use “most likely” to replace “inevitably”. This indeed is a great improvement in the argument.

c. Once you use “most likely”, it implies that it is possible for right living to be SEPARABLE from right thinking. Once you use “most likely”, it implies that there are situations where one lives rightly but thinks wrongly about God, or one lives wrongly but makes correct statements about God. (e.g. a non-Christian scholar teaching theology in university. Once you use “most likely”, it means (even if you are not aware of the implication of “most likely”) your position implies that right living is separable from right thinking.

d. But it seems that even “most likely” is wrong. So many Christians have made so many different and opposing statements about God. Look at the different theological statements made by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Churches, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Anabaptists, Lutherans, Nazarenes, Anglicans, Jehowah Witness, Arian Christians, Nestorian Christians, and so on. With different and inconsistent and opposing theological statements made by many different groups of Christians, it seems that right living has no cause-and-effect connection with making right statements about God (right theology). A good Christian can have wrong theology. Both in intellectual world and in the empirical world, there is no evidence for the inseparableness of theology and behavior.

8. As I mentined, if there is no any empirical evidence to show that right thinking about God (theology) is inseparable from right living, then rather than re-defining right thinking as equal to right thinking plus right living, why not use another term such as “Ideal Christian living” where Christian Living = right theology + right intentional behavior? Why hijack “theology” to give it a cumbersome new definition?

So instead of

right theology = right theology + right living

I propose

Ideal Christian Living = right theology + right living

Jason said...

Hi Reasonable,
Thanks for the long post. I won't spend too much time answering everything. So just pointers to finish this off else this comment slot will become some long debate zone. I'm not a lawyer so do mind my lack of precision when it comes to words.

"This is sspecially so since we have people who are exhibiting right living but wrong theology and people who have right theology (making right statements about God) but wrong living."

Not sure if there is a difference between exhibiting right living and living right; anyway, I'm not sure how you view something as distinct and inseparable. An example of something that is distinct and inseparable is evangelism and social action in our proclamation of the Gospel. Hope that helps.

"Do you have any empirical evidence to show that right thinking about God is inseparable from right living? Or it is just a matter of re-defining right thinking as equal to right thinking plus right living?"

Acts? The early church? Anyway, it's not about definitions or evidences. It simply means that for a Christian, theology and right living is in a complex intertwined relationship.(hence inseparable)

"So instead of
right theology = right theology + right living"

I never say that. You perceived it that way.

"I propose
Ideal Christian Living = right theology + right living"

Yes, I agree. especially if it matters so much for a 4 page comments post.

God bless! :)

reasonable said...

Hi Jason,

There is no obligation to reply this. Just my hobby to parse arguments and poke holes at people's incoherent arguments. So u do not need to waste such time with me. But u are welcome if you like to engage me :)


1. Regarding the separable-ness or inseparableness of right thinking from right living:

For me to defend that these two are not inseparable, I only need to show one example where these two are separated. For you to show that these two are inseparable, logic demands that you cannot just show one or two examples of situations where right living and right thinking existed together. You have to either show a very large sample size to give a convincing inductive argument, or alternatively you need to use inherent deductive logic to show that they are indeed inseparable.

2. I asked for evidence to show that right living is inseparable from right thinking. You mentioned "Acts".

Even if (a big if, as the apostles were having some wrong thinkings too) Acts shows a situation where right thinking and right living being un-separated, it is not an evidence that it is impossible for right living being separated from right thinking in other situations.

Just as one successful marriage (say, between a man and a woman) does not mean that once marriage occurred, a husband and wife would become inseparable, so one example of right living existing together with right thinking does not show that in all instances, right living is inseparable from right thinking. My previous post has already given empirical examples to show that these two are separable.



2. You also mentioned social action and evangelism as inseparable. I disagree. Social Action IS POSSIBLE to be separated from evangelism. This can be seen empirically. There is no intellectual or theological objection to a group of Christians setting up a welfare society purely to help the poor without any need to tell the poor recipients of our help the "good news". Such an approach means we help those in financial misery for the sake of helping them to solve their financial problem, and not to help them for the ulterior motive of conversion/proselytizing.

3. Even though u did not put it in equation form that right theology = right theology + right living, I was trying to use equation to show you the problem of your way of trying to including behavior within the definition of theology.

Perhaps you can give your explicit definition of theology then if you disagree that you have defined theology to necessarily include the right living component (or the spirit-filled life component). But once you define theology to include right living component or spirit-filled life component, I can start to show the problem of such an approach.

Better let theology be theology, and let right living be right living. These are distinct and separable parts. To try to make them impossible to be separated seems to go against their inherent separable nature, and if so, the attempt will likely be cumbersome, incoherent or illogical.

They are separable because right living does not require right theology (Christians can live rightly but having wrong theology). And right theology (e.g. a corrupt power-hungry and money-chasing person who is a professor of theology) does not require right living.


4. Earlier you mentioned that "Therefore, orthodoxy, as important as it is, is not the key component in theological study but a spirit-filled life is"

A spirit-filled life is not a key component in theological study. Anyone, including Buddhist scholars and Muslim scholars and Atheistic scholars, can study and do well in theology. On the other hand, a spirit-filled Christian can end up doing poorly in theological study.

A spirit-filled life is not needed at all to the ability of doing well in theological study.

A spirit-filled life is needed only at most for ideal Christian living.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi reasonable,

I like the way you put it: "The normal lay Christian is a theologian only to the extent a vegetable seller is a mathematican."

Without referring or responding to Jason's point, I personally have come across many laities who don't see the intensity of theology and take it for granted that it is something everyone can do, or are experts by the virtue that they read the Bible and think about God. And I have to confess that I harbored such naive thoughts last time before I enrolled into TTC. My experience here so far is humbling and rightly so.

Jason said...

Hi Reasonable,

You certainly have one-kind-of-a-hobby :D I prefer not to engage in long debates. But I like to wrap things up. Hope this help wrap up some stuff.

"1. Regarding the separable-ness or inseparableness of right thinking from right living"

Inseparable does not mean it can't be separated. It simply means there is a relationship between right thinking and right r/s for the Christian. As I've said, we're off tangent in our argument. Your logic is correct but it's not what I'm talking about.

"it is not an evidence that it is impossible for right living being separated from right thinking in other situations."

I didn't say it's impossible. I merely wanted to put across the point that it's related.

"Just as one successful marriage does not mean that once marriage occurred, a husband and wife would become inseparable,..."

For the Christian, it's supposed to be. They are joined together as one (inseparable), yet are two distinct persons.

"2. You also mentioned social action and evangelism as inseparable. I disagree."

sorry, forgot to put in the context. this is with regards to reaching the poor. e.g. "To bring the relationship between evangelism and social action into sharp focus, let us make three assertions: 1. Evangelism and social action are distinct activities. 2. Proclamation is central. 3. Evangelism and social action are inseparable." (Tim Chester, Good news to the Poor)

"Integral mission or holistic transformation is the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel. It is not simply that evangelism and social involvement are to be done alongside each other. Rather, in integral mission our proclamation has social consequences as we call people to love and repentance in all areas of life. And our social involvement has evangelistic consequences as we bear witness to the transforming grace of God which sends us out to serve the world.” (Micah Declaration on Integral Mission)

"But once you define theology to include right living component or spirit-filled life component, I can start to show the problem of such an approach."

I wasn't trying to define theology this way though I might have caused readers to think so. I was basically trying to say that for the Christian, "right" theology doesn't mean anything if one doesn't live it out.

"They are separable because right living does not require right theology (Christians can live rightly but having wrong theology)."

my dear friend, there can a lot of scenarios if we want to argue things this way. Christians can live right but wrong theology. Christians can live wrong but right theology. Christians can live right and right theology etc.
All of these does not prove which require which. It simply means things are very complex and related. I can know all the right theology but live wrongly because I choose to disobey. I can so-called live "rightly" but have wrong theology because of my upbringing(moral/my conscience) and wrong teachings. All in all, right and wrong theology affects right and wrong living. The extend of its effect on each other is anyone's guess. But they're related, for good or for bad.

Jason said...

4. Earlier you mentioned that "Therefore, orthodoxy, as important as it is, is not the key component in theological study but a spirit-filled life is"
A spirit-filled life is not needed at all to the ability of doing well in theological study.

I didn't say anything about doing well in theological study. In the context of my book review, it simply means a spirit-filled life is a key component in theological study for the Christian because if we do not abide in Christ, our "great" knowledge in theology is ultimately worthless, and may even lead to us deviating from our faith (there have been sad stories of those who deviate after theological studies). In some ways, you could say Thielicke is trying to put forth a caution of a scenario of a Christian theologian becoming a modern day Pharisee.

p.s.thank God for time on my off day to reply :)

Jason said...

Nice quote on:

"The normal lay Christian is a theologian only to the extent a vegetable seller is a mathematican."

I'll like to add in:

"The theologian is a Christian only to the extent a mathematician sells vegetable." (if vegetable selling is his vocation as to us being a Christian as our 'vocation')

The vegetable seller can study to become a great mathematician. But he still sells vegetables.

reasonable said...

Hi Jason,

One more thing I forgot to mention in my previous post regarding your statement that 'Therefore, orthodoxy, as important as it is, is not the key component in theological study but a spirit-filled life is:

I agree that orthodoxy of theology is certainly not a key component in theological study, but probably for a different reason.

What is important is the reasoning used in theology.

One good thing about TTC is that it is not about the orthodoxy of the conclusion of your work that determines your grade, but how well you have argued your case regardless of what conclusion you are attempting to argue for.

Will respond to the other stuff later. Now go jalan jalan first.