Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Theologians and arrogance

Proverbs 12:15 "The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice." This would seem to teach that to be a good (=wise) theologian, amongst other things, requires that you listen well to other people and take advice. How easy it is for me to go with my intuitions and to run with my 'clever conclusions'. Yet, a good theologian is, here, a humble person and a teachable person. In a sense, you have to be holy to be 'clever'. More, a good theologian knows that listening means community - we need mentors to teach us and correct us. So, the great theologians are those have learnt to discipline 'what seems right to them' by listening to advice and living in community. Our intuitions are more often than not misguided! I imagine that the cleverer you are the harder this is to take on board because you are used to your intuitions being praised. This proverbial wisdom is so contrary to much of the academy where the emphasis is upon building your portfolio of publications and being novel. The whole academic machine is built upon a culture of individualism, personal reputation and innovation. Humility and wisdom, though, go hand in hand. Let's listen to each other and so become wise!