Only an evangelical could take a narrow, exclusive definition of a word and describe it as “expansive.”
Justin Taylor posted something ironically called “Theology Is For Everyone.” I get what he was trying to say with it; he’s trying to remove the common assumption that theology can only be done by “professionals,” academics. I agree. But…
In the post, he quotes John Frame’s definition of theology: “the application of the Word of God by persons to all areas of life.” This isn’t my main criticism, but already you see a narrowing. The implication is that the academic “study of God” (the literal meaning of the word), the “theoretical,” is not theology. It only becomes theology when it is applied.
I will say that I’m glad Justin wrote “it might be wrong.” But, I think any non-evangelical theologian would say “it is wrong.”
But, this is the world that evangelicals live in. They are so caught up in their own way of thinking that it’s nearly impossible for them to understand how their Defining and Deciding implicitly excludes a lot of people.
Why does Frame feel it’s necessary to use the phrase “Word of God”? I know what Frame means. Frame has a very narrow definition of what qualifies as the Word of God, which is quite different from anyone who doesn’t hold to inerrancy.
Simply using more words doesn’t mean something is “expansive.”
Here’s what I’m getting at: if you disagree with Frame’s definition, whatever you think you’re doing when you do theology, according to him, isn’t actually theology. From my (limited) understanding of the diversity of theologians throughout history, that is excluding a lot of people. I would guess that it excludes the majority of theology and theologians.
This is a common problem. Evangelicals like to throw out words like “all” and say things like “all who come…” – in effect, saying all who don’t come (whatever that means) are excluded.
I refuse to allow evangelicals to monopolize words like theology. I love theology. I love philosophy. But, those categories are not as narrow as many evangelicals wish they were.