This year I am planning to read more of John Frame’s work. I’m beginning with John Frame’s The Doctrine of the Christian Life and thought this was a good quote where he discusses the meaning of theology:
But theological propositions are useful only in the context of teaching that leads to spiritual health. In that sense, theology is a practical discipline, not merely a theoretical one. I do not disparage theory; indeed, my own books are more theoretical than practical. But, in my definition, theory is not the only kind of theology there is, nor is it theology par excellence…Theology is the application of the Word to all area of life. Academic or theoretical theology is one kind of theology, not the only kind. And I shall argue later that theory is not more ultimate than practice, nor is it the basis of practice; rather, theory and practice are both applications of God’s Word, and they enrich one another one another when they are biblical. For that matter, the line between theory and practice is not sharp. Theory is one kind of practice, and theoretical and practical are relative terms that admit of degrees” (Page 9-10)
What I like about this quote is the fact that it is relevant to the discussion about the place for theoretical versus practical theology. Some sees one is better than the other, while some are reductionist and think there should be one at the exclusion of the other. Still, some see there can be a mutual balance between the two but what the mechanics look like is not delineated. Frame earlier in the book made the point that all theology is ethical in that what is true from God’s Word are what the readers OUGHT (moral obligation) to be believe. If that’s the case, what is ethical is definitely practical, at least in the area of what we are to practically believe is true. However, truth about God and the relationship of God to everything else also has further implications for our living as well but we must not miss the ethical and practical nature of even believing the truth of God’s Word.