Scot McKnight has a lovely post going on over at his Jesus Creed blog on BeliefNet.com, related to Natural Theology and Alister McGrath’s current book, A Fine-Tuned Universe: The Quest For God In Science and Theology.
I made a long comment in response to his post question: What is your opinion? Is natural theology a worthwhile endeavor? What theological conclusions can we draw from the nature of the universe we see?
Our aggressive work in natural theology is, in my mind, one of the most vital undertakings of the Church in the 21st century. There are times historically where ‘balance’ is not to be preferred above a ‘radical, peaked addressing’ of issues pivotal to faith and the age.
We live in an age where the glories of the created order have been triumphantly explored by biologists and astrophysicists (as well as others) – in such a way as to demand that the Church come up with a clearer line of reasoning about this material world.
Confusion over the natural world and its connections with faith bubbles in the culture and the Church. Reasoned approaches to healing this confusion are both pastoral and vital. The arrogance that marks the discoverer must indeed be addressed, but without sabotaging the wild spirit of discovery that is a gift to our day – and a gift to the Church.
Our dualisms must not die a slow, silent death; they must be brutally betrayed in all their vile forms (sacred/secular, spiritual/physical, faith/science) for us to move forward.
Our thinking must change related to embedded theologies we hold about the nature and glory of the cosmos. Cultural listening, education and prophetic provocation will aid this most quickly.
Secondarily, living out a profound theism, embodied in a Christology expressed in human terms, rather than simply Christian terms, is our way toward addressing the atheology that runs rampant in culture today.
In other words, arguing the existence (or lack of existence) of God with a Mother Theresa is always harder than arguing with one’s colleague. We must live out a thick, meaty, strong love before our world.
Generously lived theism, marked by joy, discovery, open-mindedness, passionate creativity and vibrant love of neighbor and enemy is the only path forward in the faith-antagonistic soup in which we abide.
Our capacity to be missional through all creative expressions of the human spectrum (right and left brainded), as well to simply enjoy and understand life, absolutely hinges on this aggressive approach to natural theology.
Christians somehow have come to believe, in our age, that the Christianity of the scriptures demands that life be distilled into simple, manageable categories. Natural theology exposes this naked and superficial vision of God and His world, and demands that we see nuance and complexity via a joyful approach to co-discovery with our human family.
If the covenant family of God does not get this now, our human family will be the poorer until we do. We could actually move ahead here, and gain credibility at the roundtable of cultural discussion. Lead on, Alistair and friends. We need the books, words, ideas and visions of possibility to heal our small thinking.
The cosmos speaks of complexity, with simple truths governing it’s flashes and fortes. The Church must begin to see the goodness of God afresh in the vibrant, pulsing created order all around us – or we will die within before we even begin to lose our current impact.