In Beth Moore’s new Bible study book, “Entrusted,” daughter Melissa cites Benjamin Meyers and his book called Christ the Stranger: The Theology of Rowan Williams (T and T Clark International, April 2012).
In it, Meyers describes Williams’ view of theology. Williams was the Archbishop of Canterbury, a leader in the Anglican/Episcopal church. Though not from a background I typically draw from, his description of theology caught my attention:
“Theology…is not a private table for one but a rowdy banquet of those who gather, famished and thirsty, around Christ. The lonely work of reading and writing is not yet theology but only its preparation. Theology happens wherever we are drawn together into the congenial and annoying labour of conversing, listening, and disputing–in short, where we are drawn into a collective struggle for truthful speech.” xi
It seems that everyone has a theology of some sort about all kinds of things related to God, the Bible, the Christian life, and life itself. It bleeds into our viewpoints about politics, relationships, how and where we spend our money, and many other things. So often the development of our pet theories are formulated by ourselves in our own private Bible studies, our movie and TV watching, or in our families. Or we latch onto a system of thinking or doctrine that was imparted by a revered author, pastor, or teacher.
But the working out of it has to be at “the table.” That table, as Williams put it, “is not a private table for one but a rowdy banquet of those who gather, famished and thirsty, around Christ.” If I am am famished and thirsty I will seek out a table to join with others to find Christ, to speak and to think about Him, and to marvel in His mercies. That table is not a place for people to use Scripture as a weapon, to ramrod a particular theory, or to point out everyone else’s mistakes or flaws in thinking.
Melissa then cites Shauna Niequist in Bread & Wine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013) adds to this:
“We don’t come to the table to fight or to defend…We come to the table because our hunger brings us there…The table is a place where the doing stops, the trying stops, the masks are removed, and we allow ourselves to be nourished, like children…If the home is a body, the table is the heart, the beating center, the sustainer of life and health.” pg. 258.
The table can be a Sunday school class, a small group, a gathering of friends, or a group of bloggers. My way of looking at the world can be developed in my own studies and contemplation, but I must be open to the refinement of those doctrines at the table–the place where I come for nourishment because I want more of Jesus in my life. I need more tables in my life. I get too busy and task oriented. But oh, the joy of sitting down to a good meal, with fellow travelers who are committed to relationships and to the give and take of the family table.