The Centre for Theology and Justice describes itself as connecting faith and action. Instinctively, Christians may recognise that the two are connected but, in practice, may fail to recognise the dynamic relation between them. Theology can become a set of ideas we discuss within a church or a college community. Justice can become a set of issues to which we respond in the wider local and global community. How do we enable our religious experiences, understandings and practices to come into conversation with our experiences, understandings and practices of justice? How do we allow them to shape each other?
Theological reflection could mean no more than reflecting on theology. However, it has come to mean something richer and deeper. The following are two attempts to define theological reflection:
“The discipline of exploring our individual and corporate experience in conversation with the wisdom of a religious heritage. The conversation is a genuine dialogue that seeks to hear from our own beliefs, actions and perspectives, as well as those of the tradition. It respects the integrity of both. Theological reflection, therefore, may confirm, challenge, clarify and expand how we understand our own experience and how we understand the religious tradition. The outcome is new truth and meaning for living.” (Killen and de Beer, 1994, p51)
“An activity that enables people of faith to give an account of the values and traditions that underpin their choices and convictions and deepens their understanding. Theological reflection enables the connections between human dilemmas and divine horizons to be explored, drawing on a wide range of academic disciplines.” (Graham, Walton and Ward, 2005, p5-6)
There are two important points to be made about theological reflection understood in that kind of way:
First, it is not only for the experts (theologians and clergy) but for all – as individuals and together in our congregations and groups. We all need help in developing good ways of reflecting and the Centre for Theology and Justice aims to share these and their outcomes to encourage one another.
Second, it is not just about thoughts and feelings but about action. Both faith and justice can be conceived as abstract ideas but both need to be put into practice. Just as we say that there is a dynamic relationship between theology and justice, so there is such a relationship between ideas and action. Our reflection on our own context should lead to action. We should reflect on our experience of action so that we may learn from it. Again, The Centre aims to share experiences and reflections to help us discover what may be appropriate in our own context.
We aim to develop this section of the website to help you explore theological reflection in general. The Resources section of the website contains material relevant to particular justice issues.
In the meantime, the following may help you:
Green, L (2009) Let’s do Theology (rev. ed.) London: Mowbray
Killen, P.O. & de Beer, J. (1994), The Art of Theological Reflection, New York: Crossword
Graham, E, Walton, H & Ward, F (2005) Theological Reflections: Methods, London: SCM Press