3 levels of theology
I ve been reading a very meaty book, Alister E. McGrath s, T. F. Torrance: An Intellectual Biography. Torrance argues for 3 levels of theological engagement: 1. Evangelical and Doxological Level: Here, the Christian believer has an experience of the reality of God as a basic undefined cognition which formally shapes our faith . It is at this level that God is apprehended intuitively , without any real analytical or logical process of thought. It is a meeting, an encounter, an experience with God. At this level, the believer begins to appreciate the evangelical pattern or economy of the redeeming acts of God in Jesus Christ . It is from this point that theological reflection begins. 2. Theological Level: At this stage, the believer progresses from the Christian experience of God to an apprehension of the general theological structures which underlie this experience . Christians begins to feel their way forward to a deeper and more precise knowledge of what God has revealed of himself, even to the extent of reaching a reverent and humble insight into the inner personal relations of his Being . In other words, the Christian begins to make sense of the Gospel s proclamation of the Triune God who has been met and experienced. 3. Higher Theological Level: This stage involves moving from a level of economic trinitarian relations to what God is ontically in himself . In other words, the believer now begins to discern and try to understand at the deepest levels the inner coherence of the three persons of the Trinity. To summarize, I believe this can be basically understood in this way: The believer first has a personally encounter and experience with God. Secondly, the believer moves to a level of understanding the acts of God in Jesus Christ. He begins to discern how God does things and how his acts are consistent with his nature. Finally, the believer now moves to a deeper understanding of the inner triune character of God as revealed in Jesus Christ through the Gospel.