For me, theology can only be local. There can be very little that can be generalised to be universally, globally or generationally true. Theologians always need to be rooted in real life, in a place with real people and the struggles, issues and questions that we want to address through the lens of the life, death and resurrection of Christ and our collective human wisdom, inspired by the presence of the Holy Spirit.
For great perspectives on communal local theology, I loved Laurie Green’s Lets Do Theology, Antony Gittins’ Ministry at the Margins, Margaret Wheatley’s Turning to One Another, Hueurtz and Pohl’s Friendship at the Margins. These are fantastic and inspirational reading for anyone engaged in ministry or community development.
A new book in this vein arrived today and is so wonderful it made me weep with joy. Literally! It is by Clemens Sedmak Doing Local Theology Orbis Maryknoll, 2002 and is structured around a series of theses that are unpacked in clear language. It speaks about what theology is, who owns and controls it, how it can be liberated and why we need it.
I love this definition of a theologian: ” A good theologian is a person who is close to people, has a creative imagination and the gift of listening, who shows a commitment to hard work, who accepts the risk of making a mistake, is a person of self-renewal: a person dedicated to overcoming the routine and considers theology as an ongoing task and a responsibility rather than a job to be done. ..Theology is about doing life and doing theology is part of living a responsible life. Life is a big school and there are billions of people in its classrooms, the classrooms are the open spaces of our lives.” (p2)
I aspire to being a theologian like that and am committed to the pursuit!