Summary of Chapter 8:
The premise of Chapter 8 is “theology that lacks compassion and action is no theology at all.” Kapic points out in scripture how worship of God, keeping oneself unstained & pure, and getting into the messiness of loving people are all intimately woven together. He discusses the fallacy in thinking that our chief function as theologians and followers of Christ is to avoid the world so as to remain pure. He gives us a picture of a God who does not avoid the world, but rather gets right down into the mess with it. “The majestic God is never above concern for the poor – his exaltation and condescension are bound together,” Kapic states.
In this chapter we see Jesus as remaining unblemished because of his deep love and action towards those in need, and the made up dichotomy of academic and lived theology is exposed. To be good theologians, Kapic believes that our lived theology and academic theology must be one and the same, that we cannot solely focus on mind or heart. Both must be in agreement with each other, and our lives must reflect the understanding that we are on equal playing field with those in oppression. We reflect that understanding in the way we practically love our neighbor.
Evaluation of Chapter 8:
For years I have both felt and witnessed a false perspective that seems to be so prevalent in today’s church culture. It’s the idea that one’s strengths are either as an academic theologian or ministry practitioner. The idea that at one time we can only really focus on the study of God or the practical love for our neighbor. I have seen those who are gifted in intellectual ways neglect to take any action in a hurting world, and those who take action in a hurting world neglect to give any thought as to why they do it.
This simply cannot be the right way to live. Kapic points out numerous times in this chapter that theology is both a lived and an academic pursuit. Certainly we are all gifted with strengths in specific areas. Some are more intellectual while others more relational, etc. But as Kapic points out, to view action with the poor and needy as an optional extra is to miss one of the core foundations of good theology.
We get so bogged down in our own pursuit of holiness sometimes, we forget that true religion that God finds pure and faultless is to care for the widow and orphan as stated in the book of James. Conversely, we get so concerned with the cool and hip “social justice idea” that we forget all about our own growth, spiritual maturity, character, and having intelligence behind the action we take.
Through his Holy Spirit God both wants to work in us & through us. I’m thankful that Kapic takes the time to remind us that our head and our heart are both being transformed into the likeness of Christ, and the importance of seeing that lived out as we love others in action and in truth.
Whenever we think or hear or read or say anything about God, we are doing theology. In the tradition of Helmut Thielicke’s A Little Exercise for Young Theologians, Kelly Kapic offers a concise introduction to the study of theology. He highlights its value and importance while explaining its unique nature as a serious discipline.
Not only concerned with content and method, Kapic explores the skills, attitudes and spiritual practices needed by those who take up the discipline. This brief, clear and vibrant primer draws out the relevance of theology for Christian life, worship, mission, witness and more. As Kapic says, “Theology is about life. It is not a conversation our souls can afford to avoid.”
A Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology. By Kelly M. Kapic. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2012. 126 pages. ISBN 978-0-8308-3975-9. $8.00.
“To study with Kelly Kapic must be serious fun. His joy in teaching theology is infectious.” Sinclair B. Ferguson, Professor of Systematic Theology, Redeemer Seminary
“This is a great primer both for new students of theology and for those well practiced in the discipline.” Timothy George, Dean of Beeson Divinity School
“Deceitfully easy and highly accessible, this guide is based on the best of theological wisdom and tested classroom experience.” Veli-Matti Kärkkäïnen, Fuller Theological Seminary
“Kelly Kapic concisely states major characteristics of faithful theologians in this little book…. This is a very good beginning.” Thomas C. Oden, Professor of Theology, Drew University