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In preparing two large training manuals for my church’s small group ministry I came across a wonderful chapter by Miroslav Volf entitled ‘Theology as a way of life’ in Practical Theology. Volf explores the way beliefs relate to practice in our lives and comes to this simple yet pregnant conclusion;

‘Practices are essentially belief-shaped, and beliefs are essentially practice-shaping.” (pg. 254).  

For Volf the nature of Christian practices, lifestyles, are essentially belief-shaped; but lest we think that for Volf theology is the speculative conqueror of our emotionally unreliable hearts we must hear his second point as well. There is no real theology except for that which leads to beliefs that are practice-shaping; for theology to be real or orthodox it must have a practice-shaping dimension to it.

Do you think Volf’s categories help breakdown the dichotomy many are putting up between theology and praxis? How do your beliefs, your theology, work itself out in your life? I think the turn off for many people toward theology is that they often are engaged by something that is anti-theology, something that is cold and lifeless like some lexical theorem of dogma rather than the warm blooded truth that courses through your viens and leads you into life transformation. Instead of theology being practice-shaping it becomes practice-neglecting, instead of practice truly being belief-shaped it becomes merely a local convention of a cult subculture, a belief-naivete. For Volf and I hope for all of us, theology is inseparable from praxis and praxis is inseparable from theology…