Thursday, March 01, 2007

Theology of or for the laity?

I'm reading through Hendrik Kraemer's little book "A Theology of the Laity" where he sets out to propose a theology of the laity vs. a theology for the laity. In the latter case Kraemer means a translation, if you will, of theological concepts and categories into language and terminology appropriate for the lay-person. His book is not meant to eliminate such projects, but rather to articulate a theology of the laity, that is, a theological understanding of the practical importance and role of the lay-person in the ministry of the church. This distinction sparked a question for me. Can we (of perhaps ought we) to develop a theology for the laity without a fully articulated and thought-out theology of the laity? While I haven't given much consideration to the question, it strikes me we should not.

If we do not have a theological understanding of the role of the laity in the ministry of church's witness to Jesus Christ, on what grounds should we translate theology into the lay-context? For what purpose? It seems to me that unless we have at least a cursory rationale as to why the laity ought to be theologically (in)formed (and trust me I think they ought to be) there is no need to translate theology into a lay context. Also, shouldn't our understanding of the laity's role in the church inform the way in which we develop and translate our theology for them? Indeed, shouldn't the laity themselves inform our theological work? I think Kraemer is absolutely right that we need to pay more attention to our theology of the laity, before moving to quickly (or exclusively) to a theology for them.


At 8:09 AM , Blogger Chris TerryNelson said...

Christian Andrews over at Outreach Red Bank (ORB) loves this book as well. I hope to snag this book at March booksale if I can.
I'm assuming you're a senior at PTS, right?

At 8:59 AM , Blogger Erik said...


Yes I am a senior. I have found the book very helpful. Christian was actually the one that tuned me into it.

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