On Speculative Theology

While some may say speculation is dangerous, and that we can only know in part, I say let us contemplate the divine mysteries, let us wonder about the nature of salvation, let us attempt to grasp the Trinity.

We were created to treasure that which is beyond measure, and ever anew bring out treasures from the infinite storehouse. We are all scribes for the kingdom, we’re always doing theology and we must be like the master of a household who can bring forth what is old and what is new in the text. This is not to say that every Christian becomes a theologian, or is able to do speculative theology, but we should all make the attempt. We should rightly respect both the Heirarchy and the Charismatic impetus of the church. We will never stop having treasures to draw out, we will never appraise He Who Is Beyond Appraisal, yet we can and rightly should seek to draw treasure out of the appraisal.

The Hierarchy and the general fence of orthodoxy keeps us with the faith and we draw both what is old and what is new from the same storehouse. meaning both the Charismatic impetus and the Hierarchy work together for us to properly be about the Church’s business. With only new treasures, or to put it another way, only the charismatic impetus, we are in the grasp of many dangers. To name three, we are in danger of apostasy through arrogance, we are in danger of losing touch with the faith of our fathers, and we are in danger of devaluing everything we think we know because we have no masure of comparison.

Charismatic Protestant churches are often filled with sensory experience, but without a proper respect for contemplation and the via crucis, these experiences become a drug substitute. They sedate the masses without actually bringing them into the moral or spiritual formation. Without a measure to respect and to bring ourselves in line with, our speculations quickly descend into nothingness.

Even the most celebrated of experiences can be heretically inclined. Just because a pedophile can produce art that celebrates his sexuality does not make it morally acceptable. So too, just because we can have high experiences does not mean they are legitimate. Without the moral formation of spiritual experience, we are simply taking drugs, putting off reality, and excusing ourselves from loving our neighbor.

With only old treasures the dangers are just as real. With only Hierarchy we’re in danger of missing the spiritual development that Churched life creates, we’re in danger of falling into absolutism instead of constant reform and renewal appropriate to the nature of the Church’s continuity in time, and we’re in danger of ossifying something that has living power today, even now to transform lives, and to draw the faithful into proper subjective appropriation.

Our imagination has to speculate and draw the charismatic impetus towards the Hierarchy, and the Hierarchy towards the charismatic impetus. The reason I used these two points is not because they are actually opposed or even in tension in actuality, but because they are often understood this way. THey should and do naturally flow to and from one another when appropriated rightly.

To hit the mark in our speculative imagination is not useless, worthless or just purely theoretical, and to miss is no great danger if we recognize the error of our ways in humility. To assume that these things are true is the inclination of our restless heart, and thinking about exactly how their truth takes form is not a waste of time. Even a bad theory can help reinforce their truthfulness.


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