Tanner, Kathryn. Theories of Culture: A New Agenda for Theology Guides to Theological Inquiry. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997.
A Paper I Wrote on This Book
A Presentation and Reflective Response to Theories of Culture: A New Agenda for Theology by Kathryn Turner
The purpose and scope of this paper is to provide a starting point for discussion amongst the members of the course CL8520 Gospel and Culture around Kathryn Tanner’s book Theories of Culture: A New Agenda for Theology. A more specific purpose is to provide the first respondent with clearly marked hooks upon which to hang a coherent response. A baseball metaphor may serve useful at this point. I will try to lob some pitches in so the points of discussion will be easy to hit.
In this post I will connect the term The Kingdom of Heaven with Kathryn Tanner’s ideas in Theories of Culture. I will then propose that this is a missional imagination of how the Trinitarian God is at work in the world.
What prompted these thoughts
This week I have been working on a sermon for Advent 1 from Daniel 3:8-30. Here we read the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Adednego as they refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s idol as they were in exile. The Gospel lesson was from John 18:36-37 where Jesus says that his Kingdom is not from this world.
I have already stated several times that one key assumption behind the DITB project was that theology is not the process of constructing an abstract, systematic model of God. At least, it shouldn’t be. Unfortunately, much theology is just that. Modern academic theology has tended toward the pursuit of constructing grand systems of theory that attempt to explain God and the universe. The end result of this endeavor is inevitably the construction of an idol made, not of gold, wood, and stone, but of human ideas. A reasonably adequate Christian theology, on the other hand, is the observation and reflection (theological praxis) of what God is doing in, with, under, against, and for the local congregation. The DITB project was an attempt to embody this statement and observe what would happen if a group of ELCA suburbanites—who have had no traditional, academic theological training—engage in what many consider to be one of the most difficult and abstract theological concepts: the Trinity. Further, I wanted to see what would happen if we tried to connect the Trinity—traditionally a conversation reserved for the conversation of the intellectual elite—with the practice of spiritual formation—something traditionally considered a matter of “practical” theology.
Toward a Missional Spirituality in the Suburbs