Ted Grimsrud—Presented at the London Mennonite Forum, September 2009
Theology is important, and it’s human work. The best theology, I believe, motivates and guides peacemaking. In my essay, “Contemporary Theology in Light of Anabaptism,” I propose that theology in light of Anabaptism should be “practice-oriented” more than “doctrine-oriented.” I suggest that such a focus will distinguish Anabaptist theology from mainstream ecumenical and evangelical theologies—especially when it is Jesus-centered, pacifist theology. In this sequel, I will flesh out a bit the kind of theology I have in mind.
Theology and Our Hierarchy of Values
I believe that our “theology” is made up of the convictions that matter the most to us. We each have a hierarchy of values. At the very top of this hierarchy is our god, or gods. The term “theology” literally means “the study of God (theos).” To understand the actual theology we live by, we should ask first of all how we order our lives. What in practice are the priorities in our lives that reflect what we truly accept as ultimate? These priorities tell us a lot about what our actual god or gods are.
Think back to your earliest memories. What did you value? What would you have said about what was most important in your life? How we answer these questions reveals a great deal about what we could call our “embedded” theology. This theology did not come to us through our own choices. It was given to us; we inherited it. Then, when we face the world as bigger, when we suffer, when we face questions that shake us up, when we are asked by someone else what we believe and why, we will be pushed to move from embedded to “deliberative” theology. Then we think and apply and expand and understand and articulate. Continue reading