“Build-A-Bear” Theology

*Posted by Winston Hottman

Frederick Schmidt discusses the dangers of doing theology without listening to the witness of the church throughout history. While admitting that something is not right merely because it is old, he points out one of the basic problems with much of evangelical theology: an inordinate love for the new and novel.

  • Teddy BearWe prefer to escape what we perceive as the burdens and strictures of the past.

  • We favor the creative enterprise of fashioning a theology all our own.

  • And, inevitably, we find ourselves making the journey alone.

It’s a common American enterprise—arguably as old as the teddy bear. And, today, on the far side of the high-tide denominationalism of the 1950s and 1960s, we live there again—in part because we prize our religious freedom; in part because churches fail in their obligation to teach “the faith.”

The struggle we have with Build-A-Bear theology is exactly what you would expect. We either cut ourselves off from collective wisdom about the work of God in the world, or we borrow so selectively on it that we isolate ourselves from one another.

We create something that is deeply meaningful to the one who crafts it, but predictably it lacks any deep relevance to others. Build-A-Bear theology is not something that has the breadth or depth to attract others. It lives in a disconnect from the past and the future. You can leave it in your will to another generation, but it will never amount to anything more than a curious keepsake from a relative.

Check out the rest of the piece here.

This entry was posted in Biblical Interpretation, Ministry, Theology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “Build-A-Bear” Theology

  1. modestmuser says:

    Like pre-trib rapture theology that came about in the 1800’s?

  2. contrarianchristian says:

    Point taken. But often what seems like “new and novel theology” is actually just orthodoxy coming back. It’s only new and novel in the sense that it’s newer and more novel than the pathetically simplistic and idolatrous theology that’s status quo. And irony really hits the roof then this “new and novel” theology is labeled heresy. Witness the exchange between Wright and Piper, for example. Like Chesterton, many set out to found a heresy only to rediscover orthodoxy.

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