“You Should Take Care of Your Theologians”
I was in a social setting recently where someone introduced me as a “theologian.” I smiled weakly, fraudulently, unsure quite how to respond. I was flattered, of course. “Theologian” sounds so much more impressive and loaded down with scholarly weight than “pastor” or certainly “blogger.” But while I am well-practiced in fraudulence and generally quite inwardly pleased to have my ego stroked, I have never been particularly good at accepting compliments. So instead of a simple straightforward “thank you,” I awkwardly umm-ed and ahh-ed whilst turning a strange shade of pink and staring at my feet, and mumbled, Ah, well, you see, I’m not really a theologian… I’m at this little church… I have this little blog… But, um, thanks… that’s nice of you to say… even though it’s not technically true… but, yeah, um, thanks.
Very eloquent, I know. A real theologian would surely have had a more coherent and articulate response than, well, than whatever that was.
This week I’ve been reading through Benjamin Myers’ delightful little book, Salvation in My Pocket. Myers is a real theologian. He teaches at a college in Australia and writes academic papers and does presentations at big conferences around the world. He probably even reads German or Latin or something. Myers’ book is (mostly) a collection of blog posts culled from nearly a decade’s worth of material on his popular Faith and Theology blog. As I’ve been following his blog for at least six years, much of the material was familiar to me. But not his little chapter on “theologians” Here’s what Myers has to say:
That is why, as a general rule, you should try to show kindness to theologians. Not because they are necessarily exemplary personalities. Not because they necessarily know what they’re talking about. Not because they are necessarily people of great faith. Instead, you should show them kindness because their faith is so weak and so vulnerable; because they are burdened by the difficulty of God; because they are driven to think about God the way some people are driven to drink. You should take care of your theologians the way you would care for the widow and the orphan.
I thought about my recent awkward introduction and I was, a) less certain that my host was paying me a compliment; and b) more open to the idea that the shoe might just be a fit .
You can read the blog post in which the quote above first appeared here. And if you are not a regular reader of F & T, well you should be.