In Volume One of this series I outlined four methodological steps that I would follow: (1) Jesus research, (2) historical retrieval, (3) hermeneutical re-construction, and (4) socio-ethical evaluation. With this second volume we have now completed the first of these four "moments" in the formulation of a christology: an interpretation of the earthly Jesus as prophetic preacher, teacher of wisdom, servant-victim, and as raised from the dead by the power of God.
In modern times, a false distinction can often be made between theology and spirituality. Theology must be academically credible and rational, and yet there is much more to theology than rational critical respectability alone, lest theology become "scholastic," a school's theology separated from faith and life.
As I mentioned in Volume One, theology must be professionally, confessionally, and socially responsible. Theology must also be grounded in the life of the Spirit. Theology is both scientific and contemplative. Theology and prayer are distinguishable but not separable human acts.
In Eastern Orthodoxy, the distinction between theology and spirituality is not so easily made. The articulation of faith would never be severed from the practice of the faith Liberation theology's emphasis on praxis as a starting point in theology could only have developed as a result of Western theology. In the East theology could not be conceived as severed from life and particularly life in the Spirit. Theology is talking about God and is less credible if it does not follow from having talked to God.
In the previous volume I indicated that theology is both science and art. It involves all the critical, exegetical, hermeneutical, historical, philosophical, social, and analytical skills previously referred to. But it also involves prayer. Both theology and hermeneutics involve one's experience, but that experience includes one's experience of God in prayer.
As always, there are too many to whom I owe thanks. I shall limit myself to naming Stan Drongowski, Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, Mary Margaret Pazdan, Diana Culbertson, Priscilla Wood, Mary Fitzgerald, Ruth Mary Gendrich, Frances Plass, John Gerlach, Jim Marchionda, Dennis Zusy, Tom McGonigle, Ed Ruane, Brian Bricker, Michael Mascari, Michael Monshau, Patrick Norris, Richard Peddicord, the monks at Christ in the Desert, the staff of Parable, and my two sisters, Janet and Judy.
With respect to inclusive language, I continue to find help in The Handbook of Nonsexist Writing by Casey Miller and Kate Swift (New York: Harper and Row, 1980); and in Gail Ramshaw Schmidt's "De Divinis Nominibus: The Gender af God," Worship 56 (1982), 117-31, as well as her Christ in Sacred Speech (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986); and also Elizabeth A. Johnson's "The Incomprehensibility of God and the Image of God Male and Female," Theological Studies 45 (1984),441-65. Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version, unless otherwise indicated, and sometimes adjusted in favor of inclusive language as justified by the Greek text.