Ed writes...For many years I saw theology as a divisive force among fellow Christians, leading to arguments and heated debates. Many Christians I respected held vastly different views, and so I attended seminary so I could figure out theology for myself and help others reach their own conclusions. I'll be the first to admit that part of the plan was to amass a certain amount of credibility for my own views by tacking an MDiv behind my name.
As it turns out, my professors in seminary described theology as an essential practice that should lead to greater unity among Christians. After seeing just the opposite take place for so long, such a vision seemed unattainable.
Throughout my courses I learned how our cultural contexts, our shared values that color how we see the world, make all theologies local and therefore limited in the breadth of their understanding. Christians need to understand who they are and how their contexts shape their interpretations of scripture. In addition, as I read church history and global theology, I realized Christians need to learn how to integrate the influence of traditions and the views of fellow believers, both local and global, into their reflections on God. It was at this point that my plans for Coffeehouse Theology began to take shape.
I wrote Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life in order to provide an accessible introduction to a locally formed, but globally informed theology that will help Christians reflect on God while taking into account the influence of their surrounding culture. I was convinced that Christians needed a tool to help them learn from one another, working together to shape theology.
My approach to theology pays attention to context because we are God's sent people (on the Missio Dei) who are called to live in the truth of the Gospel in a particular time and place. In fact, I start early on with a look at culture, not because it's most important, but because we need to be aware of the influence of culture on our theology. Christians have a calling to remain relevant in our times, but to also maintain a prophetic voice since we are ultimately shaped by the values of God's Kingdom.
Once we understand something of our own limitations, we learn about God through the sources of theology. We begin with God because God makes the first move to us and continues to guide us in theology through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit instructs our reading of the Bible, our primary source in theology. Our traditions and fellow Christians (both local and abroad) inform our theology and provide perspectives that challenge and sharpen our theology.
With globalization and the multitude of perspectives available today, Christians need a guide through the maze of possibilities that keeps them rooted in their relationship with God, guided by the Holy Spirit, anchored in the teaching of scripture, and connected to the wisdom of the historic church and global believers. Coffeehouse Theology provides these basic tools, while pressing Christians toward greater unity in their shared love for God.
I look forward to interacting with the readers of this site and responding to any thoughts or questions you may have?
There are also 2 study guides available as well: http://www.navpress.com/store/product.aspx?id=9781600062995 http://www.navpress.com/store/product.aspx?id=9781600062780