I’ve unintentionally but consistently been thinking and blogging about theological virtues the past few days. It occurred to me just now that the summation of what I’ve been trying to describe, whether it’s in relation to reading a source accurately, or to loving those with whom we disagree, or to refraining from pugilism in our theologizing, is wisdom. The question we need to ask ourselves methodologically is whether or not we are exercising wisdom as we do theology. Some distinctions that come to mind include:
The foolish theologian –
- cannot discern between foolish myths and matters of utmost importance;
- cannot discern between matters of friendly disagreement between Christian sisters and brothers and matters that threaten the integrity of the faith once delivered;
- cannot discern when to speak softly and circumspectly and when to speak forcefully;
- cannot discern between flattering language and arguments of substance;
- cannot discern between proof-texting a source, whether historical or contemporary, and reading it rightly in context;
The wise theologian, on the other hand, exercises discernment in all these areas. They are slow to anger, quick to hear, slow to speak. They measure their words carefully. They know how to adjust the volume, so to speak, depending on the topic. They can distinguish between matters of utmost importance that require forceful argument and matters about which we can disagree and remain within the bounds of orthodoxy. They can refer to others’ arguments and positions without twisting their words or ideas.
May the Lord give us wisdom when we speak about him and his works.