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Question

What is theological reflection?

theological reflection
Answer


Theological reflection is the practice of reflecting on life events in relation to one’s Christian faith. This can be done individually or corporately. Theological reflection attempts to bring faith and everyday life together. Methods of theological reflection are often promoted within the spiritual formation movement and those involved in Renovaré.

The tradition of theological reflection can be found in many Christian denominations. Theological reflection attempts to see God’s presence in our experiences, to understand the difference His presence makes in our lives, and to know what God expects as a result of this knowledge. The goal is a deeper understanding of the mystery of God and a wisdom born out of life experience seen through the lenses of God, His Word, the church, and dialogue with other believers. According to one source, “theological reflection claims the reflectively acquired wisdom of God formed in a particular life situation. The reflection necessarily assumes an interpretive process that seeks meaning and illumination through the joined sources of Word, faith, narrative, and the situation itself. Theological reflection acknowledges God’s movement in all of life, thus these sources are each respected” (www.andrews.edu/sem/dmin/about/theological-reflection/index.html, accessed 4/25/22).

The process of theological reflection is often prescribed in steps like this:
Reality – Be honest about what is going on in you and around you.
Reflection – Take time to digest your experiences in the light of your faith and your understanding of God.
Revelation – Wait for insight.
Respond – Be spurred on to new action or to continue with a renewed sense of vision and motivation.
(adapted from “What is Theological Reflection?” Williamson, J., http://onerockinternational.com/theological-reflection, accessed 4/25/22)

There is certainly nothing wrong with reflecting on life’s experiences in light of the Word of God. We are to meditate on the Word (Psalm 1) and allow the Scripture to interpret and influence all of life. David repeatedly recounted his troubles and life experiences in the Psalms. For example, in Psalm 31:9–13, David describes a time of grief and distress. Yet he does not stop there. David looked for and saw God in his circumstances: “I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. You have not given me into the hands of the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place” (Psalm 31:7–8). And “Blessed be the Lord, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city” (Psalm 31:21, ESV). His conclusion is that “the Lord preserves those who are true to him” (verse 23, ESV).

We are bombarded daily with news, influencers, data, options, and consumerism, and we need to pull away from the distractions of this world to make sense of life and grow in our faith. It is good to see God’s hand in every situation. Through Bible reading and prayer, meditation on God’s Word, journaling, discipleship, fellowship with other Christians, and other methods, we can reflect on what is happening to us and around us. It’s important to apply biblical truth to everyday life and grow more Christlike (Ephesians 4:15). It’s also important to prioritize God’s Word, which must take precedence over experience, church tradition, and the opinions of other people.

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What is theological reflection?
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This page last updated: April 28, 2022