Fewer people go to church today than in the past.
Any time around almost any church will yield some form of the previous sentence. People lament declining numbers. They remember a glorified past. A friend once described his church this way, “If we wake up tomorrow and it is 1950, we will be ready!”
Enter Philosophical Theology
Philosophical theology can speak to this dilemma. Any words about God constitute theology. It directly stems from the Greek origin of the words, theo (God) and logos (words, or study). Philosophy is philia (love) of sophia (wisdom) and also comes from Greek origins. Thus, philosophical theology is a study of God (theology) using the nature of knowledge.
How can we know what we know about God?
Too often, organized religion pretends to know answers it does not know. Instead of saying, “I don’t know,” committed-church-going-Christians feel the need to spout one-size-fits-all answers to every question. I am guilty of this charge. I often resort to hope or God’s omnipotent (all-powerful) nature.
Even an omnipotent God does not reveal all answers. Just because God can handle some situation does not mean that I know how God will handle it. I should not pretend to know the mind of God beyond my limited knowledge.
Philosophical Theology Can Help
Asking honest questions and being comfortable with mystery and knowing only part of the answers leads to a different kind of faith. How we know what we know re-situates what we do.
We do not need to keep doing church the way we have always done it. We do not need to keep the same songs, liturgies, and attire. Jesus looked and lived differently than twenty-first-century Christians. Asking philosophical questions of God and our faith will change our approach.
God does not need the church. People need the church. When we push God out of the church, others have no need for the church unless they want to join our (not God’s) club. By refocusing everything inside the church on Christ, we can regain our reason for being. Maybe we can even save the church.