The question of the proper starting point, the “first principles” of theology is one to which those engaged in its discipline must continually return; however, their continual temptation is to do otherwise. Without being firmly grounded on its proper foundation, the vast body of reflection developed in theology risks collapsing into dust. It is not simply that the first principles are elementary stages, to be transcended by higher realms of more elevated reflection, but that they provide the necessary perspective within which the more abstract discussion takes place and is to be understood. The proper order, the taxis, of theology must be maintained if it is to retain its proper coherence. … Christian theology developed first and foremost as faith in the lordship and divinity of the crucified and exalted Christ, as proclaimed by the apostles according to the Scriptures. The Passion of Christ stands as the definitive moment in the revelation of God, the eschatological apocalypse which unlocks the Scriptures, and so enables Christians, retrospectively, to view the work of God from the beginning and, prospectively, by the continued contemplation of the exalted Christ who is still the coming one, to participate in this work, embodying or incarnating the presence of God in this world through their own witness or martyria. …
John Behr. The Nicene Faith. Part One, True God of True God. Crestwood, N.Y.: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004. 1-2.
(HT: Sister Macrina)
I’ve been working on a general prolegomena (or, maybe, an introductory footnote) to the series I mentioned last week under the general heading “What is Theology?” My goal is to reclaim this word for use in NI Churches of Christ.
I’m quickly nearing the end of the semester so there’s not much time to put it all together right now, but I offer you this quote as a starting point. No matter what you might think about Orthodox theology, it would seem axiomatic that all of our thinking in Churches of Christ begins from our notions of “first principles.” (I hasten to emphasize that an Orthodox conception of “first principles” will be different in some respects from that enunciated in Church of Christ circles.