"A very significant shift in how theology is understood occurred across the world and in the UK between 1980 and 2010. During those years theology was greatly influenced by urban ministers and practitioners. Their work led us away from thinking of theology as a set of pre-constructed formulae which are then ‘applied’ to a situation and into a realisation that since God is already in the situations we experience, we can learn more about God simply by
observing what God is doing in those situations than by delving into theoretical abstractions. That hands-on learning we call ‘doing theology’. It's theology in a particular context so it's also often termed, ‘Contextual Theology’." Laurie is one of the key pioneers and champions of this approach.
what it is and how to do it
After working for some ten years on the Contextual Theology principles and developing the cyclic model with Christians in the city of Birmingham UK, in 1987 he eventually wrote it up in a book called Power to the Powerless. At the time it was startling to read and was chosen by the Church Times as one of its Books of the Year. Eric James wrote that it was the first true example of a UK 'Base Ecclesial Community', (a Christian group doing contextual theology) that he knew of outside Latin America.Theologians visiting the Birmingham groups from Latin America agreed that what was happening here was indeed what they were pioneering at home.
CONTEXTUAL THEOLOGY ACTUALLY HAPPEN?
Laurie's Let’s Do Theology which is now in a new edition is a set text on Contextual Theology in many theology courses around the world. There are many now working in this field, and the book seeks to describe how various models operate but each with the intention of starting our theologising from the experiences which God gives us. Laurie continues to lead seminars on contextual theology and loves seeing people of all ages turn on to theology,and making sense of their life with God.
FIRST LET ME INTRODUCE IN BOLD OUTLINE MY 'DOING THEOLOGY SPIRAL' by offering a brief extract from my book 'Let's Do Theology' ~ but remember it's only the skeleton of the full process.
Read it here: THE SPIRAL DIAGRAM for DOING THEOLOGY ~ an Introduction
Many others have offered their own methods of doing Contextual Theology and so I offer notes here on books that have been written by leadeing exponents - I don't always agree so my comments are [in parentheses] If you want to read an overview of all the methods, you can find one in my Let's Do Theology chapter 8 'other styles of theologizing'.
We have to be careful though, because many institutions and theologians who claim to offer contextual theology are actually still working the old ‘applied theology’ model without realising it, or owning up to it. Even some of those who write with enthusiasm about this model of theology, fail to use it properly in their own writing and practice.
Click any of the links here to read my outline notes of the author's book:
MORE ON THE NATURE OF contextual theology
Additional Papers & Books I've written in and around the subject.