Stop thinking like children.” Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians is even more urgent for us today. Though they should be like little children when it came to evil, he insisted they should be grown-ups when it came to thinking. To that end, Paul constantly tried to teach people not only what to think but how to think. This remains vital. The various disciplines grouped together as “theology” or “divinity” are uniquely positioned to continue this project.
People today often comment about the decline of civil, reasoned conversation in all walks of life. Theology has an opportunity to model a genuinely interdisciplinary conversation of the sort we urgently need, not least because in its very nature it ought to bridge the gap between the academy and the larger world.
The great theologians of the past—such as Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin—all tried to bring the Bible, philosophy, and theology into a shared conversation. As each of these fields advances, they need one another all the more.
The Challenge of Our Time
Despite what cynical critics think, the Christian faith is growing and expanding. The Pew Research Center estimates that there will be 3 billion Christians by 2050, most of these in countries with little opportunity for further or higher education and minimal seminary provision. But without rigorous theological study, in its widest senses, the global church will be vulnerable to distorted or lopsided teaching. In particular, it will not be equipped to address the big questions that the wider world is asking and that emerge in new forms with every generation and every cultural shift.
Those familiar with some of the more negative theological writing and biblical scholarship ...1