Theology Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 190 quotes )
Theology does not thrive in the world of action and reaction, change: it grows on calm, like the scum on a stagnant pool. And it flourishes, it prospers, on decline. Only in a world where everything is patently being lost can a priest stir men's hearts as a poet would by maintaining that nothing is in vain.
Theology is-- or should be-- a species of poetry, which read quickly or encountered in a hubbub of noise makes no sense. You have to open yourself to a poem with a quiet, receptive mind, in the same way you might listen to a difficult piece of music... If you seize upon a poem and try to extort its meaning before you are ready, it remains opaque. If you bring your own personal agenda to bear upon it, the poem will close upon itself like a clam, because you have denied its unique and separate identity, its inviolate holiness.
Theology is like a map. Merely learning and thinking about the Christian doctrines, if you stop there, is less real and less exciting than the sort of thing my friend got in the desert. Doctrines are not God: they are only a kind of map. But that map is based on the experience of hundreds of people who really were in touch with God--experiences compared with which many thrills of pious feelings you and I are likely to get on our own are very elementary and very confused. And secondly, if you want to get any further you must use the map.
When I was small and would leaf through the Old Testament retold for children and illustrated in engravings by Gustave Dore, I saw the Lord God standing on a cloud. He was an old man with eyes, nose, and a long beard, and I would say to myself that if He had a mouth, He had to eat. And if He ate, He had intestines. But that always gave me a fright, because even though I come from a family that was not particularly religious, I felt the idea of a divine intestine to be sacrilegious. Spontaneously, without any theological training, I, a child, grasped the incompatibility of God and shit... Either/or: either man was created in God's image-- and God has intestines!-- or God lacks intestines and man is not like him... Shit is a more onerous theological problem than is evil. Since God gave man freedom, we can, if need be, accept the idea that He is not responsible for man's crimes. The responsibility for shit, however, rests entirely with Him, the Creator of man.
Disagreements are inevitable. There will always be opposing viewpoints and a variety of perspectives on most subjects. Tastes differ as well as preferences. That is why they make vanilla and chocolate and strawberry ice cream, why they build Fords and Chevys, Chryslers and Cadillacs, Hondas and Toyotas. That is why our nation has room for Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals - and moderates. The tension is built into our system. It is what freedom is all about, including religious freedom. I am fairly firm in my theological convictions, but that doesn't mean you (or anyone) must agree with me. All this explains why we must place so much importance on leaving "wobble room" in our relationships. One's theological persuasion may not bend, but one's involvement with others must.
I would never speak about faith, but speak about the Lord himself - not theologically, as to the why and wherefore of his death - but as he showed himself in his life on earth, full of grace, love, beauty, tenderness and truth. Then the needy heart cannot help hoping and trusting in him, and having faith, without ever thinking about faith. How a human heart with human feelings and necessities is ever to put confidence in the theological phantom which is commonly called Christ in our pulpits, I do not know. It is commonly a miserable representation of him who spent thirty-three years on our Earth, living himself into the hearts and souls of men, and thus manifesting God to them.
The question of why evil exists is not a theological question, for it assumes that it is possible to go behind the existence forced upon us as sinners. If we could answer it then we would not be sinners. We could make something else responsible...The theological question does not arise about the origin of evil but about the real overcoming of evil on the Cross; it ask for the forgiveness of guilt, for the reconciliation of the fallen world
Spontaneously, without any theological training, I, a child, grasped the incompatibility of God and shit and thus came to question the basic thesis of Christian anthropology, namely that man was created in God's image. Either/or: either man was created in God's image - and has intestines! - or God lacks intestines and man is not like him. The ancient Gnostics felt as I did at the age of five. In the second century, the Great Gnostic master Valentinus resolved the damnable dilemma by claiming that Jesus "ate and drank, but did not defecate."Shit is a more onerous theological problem than is evil. Since God gave man freedom, we can, if need be, accept the idea that He is not responsible for man's crimes. The responsibility for shit, however, rests entirely with Him, the creator of man.
I do not admit that theological points are small points. Theology is only thought applied to religion; and those who prefer a thoughtless religion need not be so very disdainful of others with a more rationalistic taste. The old joke that the Greek sects only differed about a single letter is about the lamest and most illogical joke in the world. An atheist and a theist only differ by a single letter; yet theologians are so subtle as to distinguish definitely between the two.
If your understanding of the divine made you kinder, more empathetic, and impelled you to express sympathy in concrete acts of loving-kindness, this was good theology. But if your notion of God made you unkind, belligerent, cruel, of self-righteous, or if it led you to kill in God's name, it was bad theology.
There is a thought among some brands of theology that souls are waiting up in heaven to be born. Now how in the world anybody comes up with that is beyond me, and how you can be so sure of that is also beyond me. I always like to go back to Snoopy's theological writings, which he called, "Has It Ever Occurred to You That You Might Be Wrong." And that's the way I feel. These things fascinate me, and I like to talk about them with other people, and hear what they think. But I'm always a little bit leery of people who are sure that they're right about things that nobody's ever been able to prove, and never will be able to prove.
Men have gone on to build up vast intellectual schemes, philosophies, and theologies, to prove that ideals are not real as ideals but as antecedently existing actualities. They have failed to see that in converting moral realities into matters of intellectual assent they have evinced lack of moral faith. Faith that something should be in existence as far as lies in our power is changed into the intellectual belief that it is already in existence. When physical existence does not bear out the assertion, the physical is subtly changed into the metaphysical. In this way, moral faith has been inextricably tied up with intellectual beliefs about the supernatural.