Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Theologoumenon: a theological interpretation that is suggested as possibility, not a decisive call to belief.
Doctrine (or Dogma)*: a normative teaching of the universal church.
This distinction is quite useful, even where the may be no doctrine on what 'normative' means (nor 'universal church'), only theologoumena. Not every understanding, not every issue, not every interpretation is equally important. There are hills to die on, and hills to admire from a distance, and hills to climb over which looked good from a distance but on closer inspection don't seem to have anywhere to pitch tent, and hills to tear down.
The term 'theologoumenon' needs broader use. Joshua is doing his bit over here.
*As originally used - popular usage has shifted the meaning somewhat. Indeed, as C.S. Lewis often noted, when words shift meaning, it is usually that a useful descriptive word becomes a vague term of approval or disapproval, little better than boo or hurrah. RIP 'dogma' (at least until the resurrection, when I'm hoping we'll get a lot of good words back).