Recently there have been a number of definitions of theology that emphasize the importance of practice.
Michael Horton writes:
By ‘redemptive-historical,’ then, is meant the organic unfolding of the divine plan in its execution through word (announcement), act (accomplishment), and word (interpretation). Revelation is therefore the servant of redemption, circumventing any conception of revelation as mere enlightenment, gnosis, information, or full presence.
Michael Horton, Covenant and Eschatology: The Divine Drama, 5.
Kevin Vanhoozer writes:
Christian theology is the attempt to know God in order to give God his due (love, obedience, glory).
Kevin J. Vanhoozer, in The Pastor as Public Theologian: Reclaiming a Lost Vision, 104.
This is not a new conception. William Perkins famously defined theology as:
The science of living blessedly forever.
But if it is not enough for theology to be about propositions because it must also be about transformation, it is also true that it is not enough for theology to be about transformation. It must also be rooted in the truth that God revealed about himself, thruth which is to be worshipfully believed. As Charles Hodge noted:
To make the end of preaching the inculcation of virtue, to render men honest, sober benevolent and faithful, is part and parcel of that wisdom of the world that is foolishness with God. It is attempting to raise fruit without trees.
Charles Hodge, 2 Corintihians, 88.
Mark Ward says
Hodge’s comment is one I need to hold onto, because I think it encapsulates what bothers me about all forms of self-help, even the ones Christians get excited about. I have in mind one Christian who sounds like Tony Robbins all the time, and others who hawk essential oils not for their medicinal value but for their ability to sanctify in moments of impatience or boredom.