When studying for my PhD at the University of Aberdeen I walked home nearly every afternoon with a fellow student and office mate who lived in the flat next door. Kyle, another contributor to this blog, became one of my closest friends. Those theological conversations while strolling back to our families were rich, and I credit them to helping me complete my thesis. Clarity often comes when we articulate our thoughts. That insight left to rattle around in your head, the one you suppose to be brilliant, may sound silly when you put it in words – that revelation is a great gift!
One morning over the summer I was having a similar sort of theological conversation with a colleague at Huntington. He brewed a fine cup of coffee, we settled ourselves into his nice little office, and our conversation meandered from topic to topic: his work on Barth’s aesthetics, my research on Radical Orthodoxy, our common love of beauty, etc.
When parting, Bo reminded me of a beautiful little exchange between Anselm and his conversation partner Boso in Cur Deus Homo:
Anselm: What you ask from me is above me, and I am afraid to handle ‘the things that are too high for me.’ If someone thinks, or even sees, that I have not given him adequate proof, he may decide that there is no truth in what I have been saying, and not realize that in fact my understanding has been incapable of grasping it.
Boso: You should not fear this so much, but you should rather remember what often happens when we talk over some question. You know how God often makes clear what was concealed before. You should hope from the grace of God that, if you willingly share what you have freely received, you may be worthy to receive the higher things to which you have yet to attain.
I love that Boso’s encouragement to Anselm hinges on his confidence that God’s grace will surely abound for Anselm’s need. I know Anselm’s hesitancy to press deeply, any theologian should, but I also know the value of theological conversation partners that offer Boso’s sort of encouragement!