By Luise Abramowski, Alan E. Goodman
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20 Are our claims appropriate to the gospel, and are they credible in terms of their inner coherence and their consistency with our other beliefs about the world and human existence? These two criteria determine what are the "right affections" (orthopathy), 21 the "right beliefs" (orthodoxy), 22 and the "right practice" (orthopraxis) 23 the church must teach if it is going to be the church today. These criteria distinguish good theology from bad theology. This by no means implies there is only one right theology.
4 Some theologians, indeed, are tempted to exhibit their learning by using arcane terms in order to impress their audience. This is unfortunate, even scandalous. Every field of knowledge or practice has its technical terms, however, from the chimney sweep who recently cleaned out our dryer exhaust pipe to the astrophysicist. The seamstress employs a technical language (a ham, boning, point pins, bobbins, stitch witchery, cording, pinking shears, transfer pencil, interfacing, stabilizer, ring thread, slash, and rotary cutter), as 4.
We are asked to interpret what the church practices, believes, and teaches, how this shapes what the community and each individual does, and what this requires for our life in and for the world God loves. Theology moves beyond witness to the task of thinking with the church in our context about God and the meanings of the Christian faith. This is a troublesome task for some Christians. They do not see that thinking about faith is intrinsic to the life of faith. They consider faith as having to do with doing rather than believing, with feeling rather than thinking.