Today I had my first systematic theology precept for the semester (precepts are small group classes where we discuss the readings). For this week we read the introductory stuff of several theologians from different backgrounds. The one we focused on was Schleiermacher, a 19th century German guy who Karl Barth later wrote most of his works in direct opposition to. I didn't much care for the parts of Barth that we read last year, so I figured I'd like Schleiermacher better, and I was right. He emphasizes the fact that all our religious "knowledge" comes from experience (as does everything else)--that knowledge in religion isn't possible because it's all based on "feeling." He doesn't mean "feeling" as in emotion, but...anyway, I don't totally understand his whole system yet, but what I know so far I like. He seems much more down-to-earth, whereas Barth seems to make his theology based on ideals of how God should be as opposed to anything we actually experience ourselves.
The first thing we did in our precept was to discuss the scores we got on a "worldview test" we were supposed to have taken online. It was an interesting test...I think I put the website down for the Beliefnet quiz several months ago. This is the same kind of thing, although I think they're assuming you're a self-avowed Christian. Our preceptor had us do this sort of as a joke, because the website for this test is really...um...interesting. (If you get 100% on "biblical worldview" they send you a certificate that you can mount on your wall!) My father will be proud that my worldview ended up being "Secular Humanist Worldview." I would recommend visiting the site and taking the quiz for curiousity's sake, but many of the questions are really frustrating and you wonder what their idea of a solid "biblical worldview" is, exactly. So that was entertaining...
Here's the website:
Other people we're reading this semester: of course we have the staple Reformed theologians Calvin and Barth, then we have "representatives" of various other theological standpoints, feminist, black, Asian, Latino/a. Authors include: James Cone, Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza, Jung-young Lee, and Paul Tillich. It should be a great semester, much better than last semester's Barth, Calvin, and three weak feminist essays.
Another interesting tidbit: one of my professors on Wednesday said, "Jesus is apparently a pacifist, so we as 21st century American Christians need to think about what to do with that." Then later he said that he himself agrees with Augustine and is a Just War proponent, but thinks we need to be very careful about the wars we "justify." I have a hard time understanding how a Christian can think that Jesus is a pacifist and would not be a pacifist themselves, but...I'll try to ask him about it sometime.
Well, that's enough random comments about systematic theology for today. I hope you're enjoying your weekend! The highlight of mine may be reading Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza...(oh yeah, and hearing my husband and our friends play here in town and in New York City!).