Perhaps encouraged by a new leaf of democracy in Australian politics, Ben has resorted to a poll in order to identify the ‘world’s best living theologian’. A harmless enough exercise, I suppose, though thwarted with little promise of edifying anyone – something good theologians ought to be about. [Read: Jason’s just grumpy because Eberhard Jüngel is struggling to not come last]. In something of a response, Steve proposes some helpful comments on what it means – and should mean – to evaluate theologians.
Upon reading these two posts, I was reminded of the recent TF Torrance Lectures by Bruce McCormack and of how Bruce began on the first night by honouring Professor Torrance. He did so by recalling some words from Barth who once said that the phrase ‘great theologian’ was something of a contradiction in terms because worldly notions of greatness require qualities and values in a person which are contrary to the calling of a theologian. A theologian is called to be a witness – one who points beyond themselves – and to do so in service of those called to be ministers of the word.
NB: Ben has since redeemed the dignity of his blog with this post.