Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Worst Trend in Theological Academic Writing: An Acronymic Fable

You've seen it before. You're so used to it you don't even notice. It can take any form: blog post, journal article, a whole book or even a series of volumes. The formula is the same.

Here's how it goes. Some Belief is common to a subgroup of the church, or was common to much of the church before some recent moment in time (the Reformation, the Enlightenment, German Idealism, historical criticism), or some such thing. This Belief comes to be seen as bad-ish, on the face of it, to Academic Theologian (AT). AT supposes there might be an Alternative to this Belief. Using a newfangled method of investigation, usually historical or hermeneutical, AT discovers not only that said Belief is not true, but that it is disastrously Untrue, and that the Alternative Truth it was/is suppressing is Important and Necessary, and Unjustly Neglected (INUN).

Until now.

Now, Academic Theologian has just the right tools to fix contemporary Christianity's misbegotten foolishness, or to set right the waywardness of the theological tradition before AT and his Very Useful New Method (VUNM) came along. If he hadn't come along, contemporary Christianity, and/or every theologian who ever lived prior to AT, would be in dire straits. Therefore, his Important and Necessary, and Unjustly Neglected, Alternative Truth (INUNAT), which can only be grasped with the VUNM invented yesterday, yet which indicts everyone who didn't recognize it before him (possibly because it was lost forever after the last apostle died: until now)—this Big Idea (BI) needs an audience. Like, fast.

Because in his gut, Academic Theologian knows that another INUNAT, via an even newer VUNM, will be here any minute, from an even more academically theological AT, with an even bigger BI.

But between now and then—when the new BI replaces his BI, which will be shown to have been suppressing the new BI all along—it's his time.

2 comments:

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  2. I know right? I find it very irritating too, when I read it. They are so engrossed in saving the essence of...whatever, that they lack any sense of humility about their project or subject.

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