The Unpredictable nature of Theological Reflection

  Thank you to    Larry    for sharing this through a creative commons license on   Flickr

Thank you to Larry for sharing this through a creative commons license on Flickr

The previous posts discussed on how I came up with theological reflection method and the Biblical resources for it. In the following posts, I will explore how we implement these ideas. The last post in this transition explored on how although theological reflection process is rooted in Christian theology, it is not bound to it. Now on to the second point in this post, the encounter with the Divine is unpredictable.

When the would-be-disciples started that day, their intentions were to get out of Jerusalem and go to Emmaus. Their intentions were not to encounter the Divine and head back to Jerusalem. So it is the same with us and our encounters with the Divine, we never planned the encounter. The Divine controls the process, not us.  Surely these three stages cannot contain all the possibility that the Divine has. In this way, these three stages are not revelation, but rather a tool with the constraints of human condition. When we do theological reflection well, we have to trust not the process itself alone but also the limits of theological reflection to hear God’s truth which may be beyond the process. It is important to acknowledge before starting any theological reflection that there will be: starts and stops, blind alleys, and dead ends. Sometimes, it may feel like things are going way too fast or way too slow.  In these moments, it is important to become aware of the feelings first. Then, become aware that we are not in control of this process, but that there is something beyond. Third, seek counsel from the authoritative text of our faith traditions. Seeing that we are not in control, we must always ask these questions out of a sense of curiosity.

When we ask these questions, we must do it out of curiosity.  I got this idea from the book, Difficult Conversation, co-written by Douglas Stone,  Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen, and Roger Fisher. They talked about a “learning conversation”, which I call curiosity. It means your interest should be focusing on the understanding of the other person's perspective, before clearly communicating yourself. That means listening to and processing of the encounter with the Divine before you put it into words. It's better than trying to compel the listener to do what you want him or her to do or to conform to your will. So, the best outcomes might be reached for all. This is true both in conversation with the other or when self evaluating two or more ideas.

In this post, we explored the second point in this transition, the encounter with the Divine is unpredictable. Our encounters with the Divine demonstrate the Divine controls the process, not us. When we do theological reflection well, we have to trust not the process itself alone but also the limits of theological reflection. In these moments, when we stumble over the limits, it is important to become aware of three things: acknowledging feelings, knowing that we are not in control, and seek counsel from the authoritative text. We also explored in realizing that we are not in control that we must ask these questions out of a sense of curiosity. In the upcoming post, we will explore how the nine questions frame the curiosity that we can go from experience; to understanding, to practice; and feel the divine hand at play.