Message from the Interim Dean

Greetings from the School of Theology!

Here’s a question I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: What does it mean to think theologically?

Does it mean thinking about God every minute of the day? Except in unusual times, typically no. Mostly, we go about our days doing the things that we need to do, working, gathering with friends and family, and making sure we got everything done that needed to get done. Even for the most devout Christian, this is how life works often enough. It takes a certain level of intentionality, then, to focus our attention on theological ideas and themes, whether that’s for our own spiritual formation, for a class, or just because we’re captivated by some question that deserves some kind of theological answer. And it is the captivating question that gets us started thinking theologically. That issue, that conundrum that we believe deserves reflection and response from a perspective that values and submits to the risen Lord, lies at the heart of thinking theologically.

But it’s not just, “What does the Bible say about this or that?” While that is an important question, it is just the first of many we’ll ask when we set our minds toward the task of theological reflection on a matter. To borrow from APU’s Wesleyan heritage, we might ask what the tradition says about a matter. What about my own God-given reason? My experience? How does that figure into the equation?

And what is the proper subject matter of theological reflection? Is anything off limits? I don’t think so. The God who calls us to love Him with all our heart also calls us to love Him with all our mind. This is the prime motivation for our faculty—loving God. Faithfully and fully, loving the One who loves us best. So, for me, thinking theologically is about encountering all the challenges and problems life has to offer in a way that gives faithful expression to my love for the Triune God. But that’s just my take.

Come join us in these halls. Meet our undergraduate and seminary faculty. Ask them what they think it means to think theologically. But be careful. You just may find yourself captivated by some question, called to some purpose, given to some new life that only the risen Jesus knows at this moment. But you’ll be in good company. St. Paul writes that no eye has seen, no ear heard, nor has any human mind conceived of what God has prepared for those that love Him (1 Cor 2:9, paraphrased).

So, I say, join us on our journey of thinking theologically.

John Ragsdale, PhD
Interim Dean, School of Theology

Note: This information is current for the 2021-22 academic year; however, all stated academic information is subject to change. Please refer to the current Academic Catalog for more information.

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