Most people have no idea what I'm talking about when I tell them I'm studying Theology. I don't really expect them to, but I try to clear my good name fast. No, really, I don't draw charts in an ivory tower. And my school essays might actually be interesting to a normal person if she read them.
One fairly simple way of looking at theology is to think of it as a long, careful look at God. To attempt to spend years, and ultimately a life, on such a look, is a humbling, terrifying, and show-stopping occupation. We are all, in fact, called to the task of heavenly exploration, but those who "study theology" are expected to use telescopes and sometimes stay up nights. Extra attention to detail is required.
Theology rightly infuses life with God. Theology connects crucial dots. Makes necessary pronouncements. Theology is earthy, because God is concerned with Earth.
The details we are after, however, are not the sort you store in Vatican vaults or on microfiche slides. God is not like a calculus textbook - every facet of God is vital to every life. None of the God-truths are so dry that they can be safely left for the experts. A forgotten aspect of God's personality might provoke years of personal misery. Or it could (and does, all the time) cause civil wars, murder, and duplicity. People often fail to understand that theology is a discipline of almost mesmeric practicality.
Theology rightly infuses life with God. Theology connects crucial dots. Makes necessary pronouncements. Theology is earthy, because God is concerned with Earth. It deals with life's obvious questions and the not so obvious answers. I love the rugged functionality of such a pastime.
I am admiring God's personality and ways so I can know him better, and at the same time avoid stupid mistakes.
In my current setting, theology is an attempt to study God in the hopes that communications may improve between the two of us. At this point in the spiritual journey (which may be a very elementary point), this means that I am admiring God's personality and ways so I can know him better, and at the same time avoid stupid mistakes. As a result, I will also be expected to be of greater usefulness to others in explaining things about God.
That's why, every once in awhile, I feel the need to take a "theological principle," something that might seem stuffy and academic to those on the outside, and take a snapshot to capture its attractiveness. The "Feuerbachian Critique" is one such instance of beautiful efficiency. The name is misleading. When you actually check, the Feuerbachian Critique is very good looking.
Say I began talking about God as if he gave preferential treatment to people with brown hair and blue eyes. As well, God's favorite basketball team was the Kansas Jayhawks, and he drank large amounts of coffee every morning.
I'm not sure who Feuerbach was, but for the purposes of this post, you don't really need to know. Feuerbach's mode of criticism is enough to remove any awkwardness created by his name. The beauty of the FC becomes evident when it is necessary to debunk ridiculous ideas about God.
Say I began talking about God as if he gave preferential treatment to people with brown hair and blue eyes. As well, God's favorite basketball team was the Kansas Jayhawks, and he drank large amounts of coffee every morning. On top of this, God was happy to turn the deaf ear to occasional instances of withering sarcasm. Suppose I said all this, and drew up a persuasive essay explaining very brilliantly exactly why God should be this way, and not another.
Several books in the Old Testament wryly depict people who ended up worshipping rocks and farm animals rather than acknowledging that God WAS and that he WAS DIFFERENT.
Rather than being intimidated or impressed, you would just look at me and grin widely. Then you would say, "HAH, your system is barred by the Feuerbachian Critique. You're just projecting your own ideas of goodness to form what you think should pass for a God! HA HA." And I would look down, slightly embarrassed, and realize that all my prognosticating had actually been very silly.
The FC is a useful consolidation of the biblical truth that if we can possibly come up with a way to make God more like us, we will do it. We have these ideas of how God should be, and we want him to fall in line. Several books in the Old Testament wryly depict people who ended up worshipping rocks and farm animals rather than acknowledging that God WAS and that he WAS DIFFERENT. Ultimately, we had better discover the revealed truth about the universe, and get in line. Hypothetically speaking, if God is knocking us around like billiard balls, we had better adjust accordingly.
We'd just rather not. And that's where the Feuerbachian Critique is useful--a self-interrogative tool to make sure we don't slip into the oldest folly in the world: idolatry. If we can manage to keep from carving a little god in our own image, we will be that much nearer to the real God, and that much further down the road in the spiritual journey. That's the beauty of Theology, who just might be the best-looking guy in the room.