Ben Myers at faith and theology has blogged about the virtues and vices of a theology student. I suggest reading his satirical post on how to have a brilliant theological career, it is hilarious. In his follow up post called “Ten virtues for theological students” Ben suggests that the “fruit” of theology should be virtue. This, in many ways, overlaps with our recent interest in the spiritual formation of the theologian. I want to state up front that I agree with Ben (and generally find it a good practice to do so! – especially if Nivanna is mentioned (the band and not the state of being)) – theology should be a formation in virtue.
But it seems that, following our posts on the spirituality of theology, this must be a secondary effect of the theologians primary interest – God. I’m not saying that Ben is doubting this in any way, but I always worry a bit when virtue is discussed because it is often synonymous with a version of self-help. Theology students, in other words, may run off after reading his posts and try to be more patient, more simple, more loving, etc., when the whole point of our reality under God is that these are impossible for us outside of a true vision of God.
Therefore, my question for us, and Ben if he would be willing to chime in, is this: How do we foster true virtue, when true virtue is beyond our ability? How have we misconceived the theological task that it has provided the climate for amassing opinions and growing in pride rather than humility? Where along the lines did theology become talk about other theologians rather than talk about God?