Theologians, 120 of strong from 30 countries gathering for the "Global Consultion: Theology in the Life of Luthean Churches" in Augsburg, Germany, for six days heard papers, discussed, shared ideas and engaged in invigorating conversation.
The Rev. Dr. Karen Bloomquist, Director of Theology and Studies for Lutheran World Federation, who lead the event, said that theology is necessarily contextual. We cannot presume to speak as though we have universal theological categories that have the same meaning for all people. The value of theology is in the questions it raises. The challenge is to do theology in the midst of the global Lutheran communion.
Theology asks such questions as: "How might resurrected hope be embodied and enacted amid the emptiness, pathos and suffering in our world--for the sake of the healing of the world? How does God's libeating, reconciling work become incarnate in the many contexts in which Lutheran churches today seek to live out the Christian faith? How is what we confess reflected in how we worship, preach teach, pray, living together as communities of faith, and respond to the challenges we face in our world today?"
The Rev. Dr. Benson Bagonza, a bishop in the Lutheran Church in Tanzania outlined an African theology of sustainable development. He said that the church represents the biggest social movement in Tanzania and that it is rural oriented and politically positioned to affect change. He noted the issues of depending heaily on outside funding which can readually erode selfhood. He questioned the church's leaning heavily on alliance with the state, which in turn galvanizes colonial memories. He said that an African theology of sustainable development heeds the voices of ordinary people within Africa and outside African in the triple theological quest to indigenize, liberate and reconstructin a desire to preserve, promote, and enhance a just society where poverty and discrimination are being overcome.
I had known Benson when he was a student at Wartburg Seminary in the Theology, Development and Evangelism program. Karen and I have been friends for many years. To be together with them, and many others, old friends and new, was a banquet in itself. I shall share more in weeks to come.