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The Theologian: A Voice in the Wilderness


Hiking the Path of the Gods in Amalfi Coast, Italy 

The theologian must learn how to speak from the margins. This person’s identity is decisively rooted in the Lord, the one who was crucified outside the city, the place of power and recognition. But words uttered from the sidelines – a marginalized voice – doesn’t mean that these words are weak and empty. Such words tend to be prophetic and anointed, baptized in the suffering and resurrection power of Jesus (“If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.” 1 Peter 4:11a).


The theologian’s effectiveness does not depend on his proximity to those words which are celebrated by the elite and respected, but rather by their closeness to the cruciformed pattern.

Thus, the theologian – the one who’s identity is authentically baptismal – who hopes to be celebrated by the world, recognized as a pleasing presence, will have those hopes utterly dashed.

An eschatological hope could never find a comforting embrace from those who’s lives are threatened by this very hope!

In addition, the theologian’s words, precisely because they tend towards the prophetic, may not even be received with joy in the Church of Christ Jesus.

In this way the theologian finds himself truly forsaken. Sometimes this forsakenness can culminate in the acute pain of the existential forsakenness of God on the cross: “My God, my God why have you forsaken men.” Here the theologian must learn how to hang on the cross and experience an existential atheism while remaining faithful to the God that is above experience.

God is good, even when we don’t sense that. God is great, even when evidence speaks to the contrary. And the theologian is called not only to speak such a word in that space, but to flesh it out in his baptismal call; that is, as a Christian, along with the faithful.

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