Miroslav Volf Talks About How Christian Theology Lost Its Way in New Book ‘For the Life of the World’

“For the Life of the World: Theology That Makes a Difference” book jacket and Miroslav Volf. Portrait photo by Christopher Capozziello

Miroslav Volf, founder of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, is a distinguished theologian with more than a dozen books to his credit. His colleague Matthew Croasman, director of the center’s Life Worth Living Program, is a pastor, a musician and a teacher of New Testament. Coming at theology at different places in their careers and from different viewpoints, they nonetheless begin in their book, “For the Life of the World,” published last month, with the same question: What makes for a flourishing human life?

It’s this question that the two theologians believe their discipline has failed not only to answer but to ask at a time when ordinary Christians are facing, in concrete ways, the prospect of diminished life. “For the Life of the World” is an exhortation to reorient theology toward this central question, as they explain in the following adapted excerpt. 

Humanity today faces many challenges: the risks of an unprecedented pace of technological development; seemingly irreversible ecological degradation; immense discrepancies in wealth, knowledge, and power among individuals and the peoples of the world; an inability to live in peace given our manifold differences; and more. As we write this, the symbolic Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is set on two minutes before midnight.

But the first step toward ecological, economic, and political health is conversion — reaffirmation or rediscovery of our human purpose and setting ourselves on a journey toward it.

Even if it were true, as dystopian literature and some scientific predictions suggest, that humanity is entering a valley of dry bones of our own making — desolate landscapes, cities in ruin, people at war over basic resources — we will be able to live with dignity in that valley, only if we know who we are and what our purpose is. And we’ll need that same knowledge inscribed into the very character of our souls in order to get out of that valley.

As an intellectual endeavor, theology matters because it is about what matters the most for human life. Theology worth its name is about what we ought to desire above all things for ourselves and for the world, about what we should desire in all the things that we desire (whether our desire is effective economic systems and just political orders, livable cities and deep friendships, possessions or lack thereof, healthy bodies and joyous progeny).

Theology matters because it is about the true life of the world.

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Source: Religion News Service