Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Folk theology

In discussing the difference between academic and folk theology Richard Beck writes, "....even if we had better theology in churches we'd still be awash in folk theology. Mainly because Christian theology tends leaves too many details unspecified or uninvestigated."

He gives two examples, one relating to sin and one relating to the Devil, and what is believed by many Christians about both these matters. What he's pointing out is that many people in the pew have to have a kind of theology (his 'folk' theology) in order to live in the day to day. This theology isn't provided from the pew (when did you last hear anyone preach about the Devil at all, let alone about what sort of state he exists in, where he might actually be and so on?), and it certainly isn't provided by academics, whose books are often not read because they're just too darned hard for the average brain in the pew - even if the aforesaid brain was inclined to read them. (Anyone without academic training tried to read Elizabeth Schüssler-Fiorenza lately? Even apart from her tendency to give words different meanings to the norm, she's hard going...)

Consequently, the folk have to work out some things for themselves. What can preachers do about this?

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