The Art of Theological Reflection


After yesterday’s post about BBQ, my husband asked me the following: “How do you manage to turn everything into a religious experience?

It’s a good question.  The short answer is that I have been trained to do so, but a better, more accurate answer is that I see tremendous value in theological reflection.  If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, don’t worry, it’s a seminary term.  Unfortunately, it seems to have become something practiced mostly by clergy while it is a resource that should be readily available to every Christian, ordained or not. 

So what is it exactly?  The definitions are as varied as Christian denominations, but I would say that it is to critically think (reflect) based upon our knowledge of God (theology).  That means we observe something, an interpersonal interaction, the world around us, something we hear or read, you name it.  Then we internalize it by thinking about how it relates to our God, our religious history, our church tradition, scripture, our spiritual experience, and our personal wisdom.  We ask a series of questions about how it is impacted by our religious knowledge and how it might impact our religion.  We explore it, look at it from new angles, with Christ’s eyes, and then share it.  Maybe we have a small group we share it in, or a good Christian friend, or even our religious leader.  Maybe we just offer it to God in prayer, record it in our journal, or we embody our reflection in our interactions and ministry. 

Theological reflection is meant to be a tool for spiritual growth.  It requires that we do not just be a passive receptor of life, but that we digest what we experience and let it change who and what we are in response, so that we become more knowledgeable, more understanding, more capable to making a difference in this world.  Clergy often use this to put a new spin on the mundane, the every day things that go unnoticed by their congregations.  I believe that there isn’t anything, no matter how small, how secular, that God has not touched.  Whether it’s coffee, cinema, or BBQ, there is some trace of God’s fingerprint upon it because our culture is a product of humanity which is a product of God.  Some will claim that some people are just gifted with the ability to theologically reflect.  This may be true, but like many other skills, you can cultivate a talent for theological reflection, and you should.  If you want to more fully integrate your faith with your everyday life, if you want to embody what it means to be a disciple, if you want to deepen your relationship with God, then theological reflection is a vital resource.  Give it a try: take something, anything and see if it’s in scripture.  Ask what Christ would have to say about it.  Maybe it can be a metaphor for faith.  Perhaps it evokes feelings similar to a religious aspect.  Then let it marinate within you.  You might be surprised how something deliciously spiritual emerges. 

(Image courtesy of


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