Quote on “The Kiljoy Objection”

Stanley Grenz and Roger Olson describe the Kiljoy Objection to Professional theology in terms of a question: “Why examine everything? Why not just have simple faith? Aren’t we supposed to be like little children and not question everything?”

Their answer is excellent in my view:

Too many people confuse “simple, childlike faith” with “simplistic and childish faith.” Theology— enven professional theology– does not deny the necessity of humbe acceptance of God’s message to humankind in Jesus Christ and the scriptural narrative bout him. It does, however, push beyond blind and unquestioning acceptance of any and every interpretation of that message that happens to sound spiritual or comforting.

Emil Brunner, a great twentieth-century Swiss theologian, offered a marvelous illustration in answer to the Killjoy Objection in its various forms. He compared the gospel to fresh produce in a market. The frutis and vegetables are there to be enjoyed by the palate and to nourish people’s bodies, not to be cut up and examined by instruments in a laboratory. Yet no one objects to the fact that some of the fruit is so examined in modern laboratories! It must be examined to assure that the produce is safe and wholesome. The health department sends inspectors around to the markets to take samples back to their laboratories to analyze them for poisons, nutritional value, freshness and so on. In the process of being broken down and examined, they are necessarily destroyed— but all for the sake of the consumers’ health.

Likewise, theology may look as if it is destroying belief, but in reilty it is examining and testing Christian beliefs and teachings to find out if htey are conistent with good spiritual health. The ltimus test is Jesus Christ and the biblical message that centers around him. Just as engaging in laboratory analysis of food is no substitute for eating, so theological examination of beliefs is no substitute for a full-orbed Christian faith. The theologian— like the food expert— should be a connoisseur and not merely a critic. …

–Stanley J. Grenz, Roger E. Olson, Who Needs Theology: An Invitation to the Study of God (Downers Grove, IL:IVP Academic, 1996). ch.4.

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