Poor little Kendall Harmon isn’t what he used to be, and lately Nahum Three Six has been a shadow of its formerly aggressive self. Once a reliable source of fresh vitriol every morning, these days I generally find myself visiting David Virtue’s little brother purely for the sake of the advertisements: it’s always interesting to see who’s so desperate for customers they’ll link their name to anyone.
The latest sponsor of Kendall’s pre-digested bile is a South Carolina “educational” institution which boasts of “Restoring theology to the heart of the church”. (Since Kendall’s site rotates advertisements I’ve saved a copy of this bold claim here.)
Now my Dearly Beloved Sinners, of all the things I’ve heard through the years that supposedly belong at the heart of the Church, theology is a new one for me. “Jesus”, “The Holy Spirit”, “Love”, or “Forgiveness” – nothing new about any of these. Those of you with Catholic inclinations might hold that “the Eucharist” lays at the Church’s heart, while my friends in Forward in Faith would expand this to “the Sacraments when administered by a priest with an allegedly heterosexual penis”. Meanwhile Evangelicals insist it’s “the Bible”, or “Grace” (by which they really mean “Condemnation”), and little Bobby Duncan would undoubtedly answer “Property”. Martyn Minns’ track record proves that for him it “becoming a Bishop”, an answer not dissimilar to +Nasty-Alley’s and +Wright’s: “becoming Archbishop”. But theology????
At a congregational level I know from my many years of practical ministry that the heart of the Church should be “keeping the Senior Minister in the lifestyle to which he is entitled” – a view with which Don Armstrong clearly concurs, although he also serves as an example of what happens if one loses a sense of subtlety when applying this principle.
Even so, I’ve always been of the opinion that theology is the means by which people reach the end goal of better understanding God, in much the same way that medical science is the means by which treatments are developed for the purpose of healing the sick. Both the means and the end are vital, but the former is so because of its impact upon the latter. Little Kendall’s advertiser would have us believe that tools – not the life which enables us to use them, nor the enjoyment of that which they equip us to construct – are central to the communities in which we share our faith.
Mind you, looking at the advertiser – “St Paul's Theological Center - South Carolina Campus” a little more closely showed that they are in fact an off-shoot of the latest development in the empire that is Nicky Gumbell’s Alpha Course. Which means that when they say “theology” they actually mean “our theology”; a dozen or so points in an ahistorical blancmange of Protestant-revivalism which has always excluded more people than it accepts. If the future heart of the church is filled with this I predict a massive increase in the demand for Clerical Cardiologists: how much do you think St. Onuphrius’s will be able to charge for a triple bypass and valve replacement?
I’m Father Christian and I teach the Bible.