In an age where religious motivations can cause people to do great harm or great good, and where every idea–good and bad–has equal weight in a social media world, where are the theologians who can help ground us and guide our reflections?
M. Craig Barnes writes in the Christian Century.
…we no longer believe in ideas that emerge out of a coherent system of thought. We’ve read too many tweets, and believe that every idea has equal legitimacy.
When my daughter was in high school, the head of her school said to an assembly of parents, “Here we tell our students there is no such thing as a bad idea.” That went down pretty easily until I began to think about it. No bad ideas? Actually, there are some terrible ideas, and telling a bunch of teenagers that there are no bad ideas is one of the worst I’ve heard. Every brutality against humanity began as “just an idea.”
Theologians have been trained in a deep history of thought about the nature of our life with and without God. It is possible to disagree with their perspectives on our society, and they certainly disagree with each other. But we dare not dismiss the depth of their thinking by assuming religion is no longer a significant player in our life together.
Those who massacre people in clubs and hotels are religiously motivated. So are many of those who devote their lives to caring for the poor. And whether they realize it or not, so are those who find themselves in a conversation about public policy at a dinner party or in the cab of a delivery truck. Religion is a major player in our actions, for better and worse, and it makes no sense to sideline the best theological thinkers.