Wednesday, November 30, 2016

An immoral theologian?

There was some discussion on Radio 4 this morning about whether Fidel Castro was a good man or a bad man, a good thing for the people of Cuba and the world or not. The speaker argued that, like us all, though in a much more extreme way, he was both bad and good.

Orwell's famous statement was quoted:

"One ought to be able to hold in one’s head simultaneously the two facts that Dali is a good draughtsman and a disgusting human being."

(Benefit of Clergy: Some Notes on Salvador Dali available here:

But can the same be said of a theologian? Could one say that someone is a good theologian but a bad person?

Of course, none of us is perfect; we are all a mixture of good and bad. Our theology will inevitably be mixed and contaminated with error.

But theology is a uniquely experimental science. The truth leads to Godliness. If it does not do so, it has not really been embraced.

Of course, an unbelieving theologian might give a brilliant analysis of some doctrine, but is not theology faith seeking understanding rather than unbelief seeking clarity?

If the scandal around Karl Barth's relationship with his secretary was justified, is that relevant to how we read his theology?

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