Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Old Meaning of the term "Theologian"

“In the Christian East, a “theologian” is not someone who has thought hard about theological categories and labored at their construction. A theologian is someone who has drawn near God and experienced His transforming presence in a palpable way. This is what Peter means by becoming “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4 KJV). A theologian is someone who has “seen the Uncreated Light,” a reference to the light that shone forth from Jesus on Mt. Tabor (Mark 9:2-3), and which illuminated the burning bush without consuming it (Exod. 3:2). Being a theologian is akin to being a mystic—though I hate to use that word, because in the West mysticism seems like an odd calling for odd people, while in the East it is the whole purpose of Christian life and the calling of every person: union with God, theosis, In the fourth century Evaggrius of Pontus said, “A theologian is one whose prayer is true.”

Today some of you have the job description “theologian” and may be thinking that you did not even have plans to see the Uncreated Light. How refreshing it would be to understand your calling as being a source of light for others, a living example of what God can do with a fully yielded person, someone whose deep meditation on the things of God has led tp personal transformation and even holiness. That’s the old meaning of the term “theologian”. Contrast this with a framed print I saw in the vesting room of the National Cathedral in Washington. It showed a shining candle surrounded by darkness, and the test read: “I was wandering all alone in a dark forest, with only the light of a candle to guide me, and along came a theologian and blew it out.””

Excerpt from: Frederica Mathewes-Green, “The Old Testament Trinity”; God the Holy Trinity: Reflections on Christian Faith and Practice; Edited by Timothy George, Baker Academic, (2006)

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