Theological Sinew: My Embedded Theology
(This paper was written in the fall of 2017 in response to a prompt to write about our embedded theology: "the implicit theology that Christians live out in their daily lives" (Howard and Stone). Knowing me, there's a good chance I do not hold to any of the nonsense I wrote down, but you should check it out anyway because it loosely describes my religious upbringing and who doesn't want to learn more about yours truly?)
Some often think of theology as an intense and active activity by few, namely academics. While in some cases this is true, we all believe in a particular theology. Not only do we all believe in a particular theology, our whole lived lives reflect our theology. Howard W. Stone and James O. Duke call this “embedded theology” (Stone and Duke 15). They define this term as, “the implicit theology that Christians live out in their daily lives” (Stone and Duke 15). Multiple facets of life shape embedded theology. In this paper I will reflect on the ways in which my personal religious experience, the teachings of my tradition, my home church, my family, and my own reading of the Bible have shaped my theological worldview.
Personal Religious Experience
My personal religious experience may be the lenses through which I view my understanding of the other factors that have shaped my theological worldview. While my personal religious experience has certainly been shaped by the other factors, it seems my own religious interests that guide my theological worldview. For example, when I was in elementary school I was highly interested in creationism. While this interest was certainly influenced by the other factors, I asserted my own agency to learn about creationism. Therefore, in the case of my interest in creationism when I was young, it was my own personal religious experience that shaped my theological worldview of God as one who specifically acted in the creation of the universe.
While my personal religious experience when I was in elementary, middle school, and high school reflected many conservative sensibilities, I asserted my own agency of questioning what I had been taught by my home church and family. Throughout high school a friend and I often had conversations that questioned the theology our home church and family taught us. I carried the reflections from those conversations over to my college experience at a liberal arts Christian college. There, professors challenged me to expand my theology. Over the next four years my personal religious experiences moved me into a far more progressive theology influenced by postmodern and progressive theologians. While these same theologies and theologians did not necessarily influence most of my professors, it was their prompting and my own assertion of my agency to learn more and be influenced by these postmodern and progressive theologies and theologians.
Therefore, my own personal religious experience, while influenced by the other factors, has certainly been influenced mostly from my own assertion of my agency, which has an embedded influenced on my theological worldview...