Saturday, March 07, 2009

Telling the community what it doesn’t want to hear

[On not having a church Yet what is the theologian’s task if not to stand as a critical voice holding the church accountable to its mission?
An und für sich by Adam Kotsko. At no point do I want to make anyone feel disrespected or inferior, though I recognize that they in fact will feel that way in many cases.
Yet the task of the theologian is and must be a critical one. It must be carried out from a position that might even represent a certain degree of alienation from the community on a day-to-day basis insofar as the theologian is telling the community what it doesn’t want to hear. Theologians must of course examine themselves to be sure they’re not motivated by a perfectionistic pride, by a sense of intellectual superiority, etc. — yet it would be a mistake to give too much credence to such accusations, which are pretty standard moves deployed by the wounded pride of authority seeking to shout down critics. To ask the theologian first of all not to be so hard on the community and to make allowances for human weakness and external circumstances is ultimately to ask the theologian to be a propagandist, and that is precisely what the theologian must never become — not because of any extrinsic necessity, but above all because the community that responds faithfully to the gospel message will be one to which the task of the propagandist is irrevocably foreign.]

The IY community too should learn to live with its critical commentators. [TNM]

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