Messy Theology

Published 7th December 2015 by lucy moore

Lucy writes: I could use some help. I’m trying to create some thinking around Messy Theology. I’m not a theologian and may be doing this all wrong, so please chip in with practical help if you can. I THINK it’s about looking at theology through a lens of Messiness. Why do I want to do this? I’m interested to see whether a robust understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of a Messy approach might provide a safe space for churches to use in matters over which we disagree. Also, it’s interesting, just for its own sake.
There’s a chapter by Bishop Paul Bayes in Messy Church Theology, which has been a good starting point. 
Here are the first few paragraphs of my musings. I’ll pop the rest in another blog post to avoid overload. Can you add anything?
‘Messy theology involves an acceptance of, a contentment with, a welcome of: uncertainty, doubt, creativity, spontaneity, lack of control, space, generosity, hospitality, mutuality, power-sharing, mystery, exploration, incomprehension, interdependence, ambiguity, humility, brokenness, relationship, incompleteness, work-in-progress. It is non-judgemental, gentle, playful, not-for-profit, risk-taking. It rejoices in the physical and the spiritual, often finding the fuller expression of one through the other.
‘Messy theology excludes: arrogance, self-righteousness, rigidity, predictability, power-seeking, pragmatism, over-confidence, authoritarianism, dogmatism, perfectionism, constrictive structures, desire for completion, manipulation, exploitation of the weak, individualism, judgementalism, harshness, profiteering, security, restriction, niggardliness, competitiveness, possessiveness, silos and separatism.
Its danger is that without a strong relationship at the centre, it risks becoming woolly and vague, reliant on experience, senses and emotions. It risks remaining at the playful stage without making space for reflection and conscious learning. Its contentment with mystery means there is a risk of being lazy about discovery. Its gentleness means it may run the risk of avoiding tough challenges and confrontations.’

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