A New Paradigm for Theology: Love as the Center and the Norm

Speaker: Categories: May 09, 2009


[32min, 46sec / 59min, 12sec]


Have you ever considered or wondered about the way(s) in which Christian beliefs have originated and been organized? Have you wondered about the variety of denominations which have evolved over the last two millennia - but particularly within the last two decades? How about the SDA set of beliefs, perhaps expressed somewhat succinctly in theTwenty-seven Fundamental Beliefswhich have recently grown to twenty-eight? What has served as the common center for most of these expressions? The May SDAF speaker proposes that there might beanotherpossibility,another centeraround which to express SDA doctrines.

He suggests,"Christian belief might be seen as organized in any number of different ways around the themes of faith or hope, for instance, or the idea of divine sovereignty or divine holiness, or any of the central doctrines of Christianity (creation, salvation, church, etc.). But because love has played such a central role in Christian belief and self-understanding, it might make sense to experiment with a model of Christian belief organized around the theme of divine and human love."

Would you agree - or does the possibility of tinkering with the beliefs which our founding fathers (and mother) have hammered out and stated over many decades in written form seem discomforting, even perilously close to venturing into perilous theological territory? And, by the way, what latitude does the local church (pastor(s), board of elders, other leaders have in manifestingtheirset of beliefs in the worship service, its ministry to the community and its ministry to its members - or those attending the worship service each week?

Dr. Chartier further suggests:"Love might play a related role in theology as well: it might serve as a critical control on theological formulation. This often happens in informal discussion, but perhaps not with sufficient frequency in theology. We could observe, for instance, that maintaining a particular theological position which required us to believe that God wasnotlove should be regarded with suspicion. We could maintain that endorsing such a proposed doctrine would commit us to being unloving ourselves and that it should therefore be rejected -- and so forth."

"In my recent book,The Analogy of Love, I seek to explore a model of theology that gives love pride of place as both the center of theology and a vital criterion for theological claims."

He concludes,"I look forward to exploring this model in San Diego on May 9."

Exploring this modelwould suggest the need for an enthusiasticQuestion and Answer Timefollowing the refreshment break. So, given the information provided in the foregoing paragraphs, some questions may already be forming in your thinking. As with past presentations, you might opt to share such questions via email or snail-mail so they could be included in the discussion even if you are not able to be present in person.


Dr. Chartier made his SDAF speaking debut on September 10, 2005, when he addressed the topic ofNatural Law, Same-Sex Marriage, and the Politics of Virtue. At that time he was on leave from La Sierra University while serving as member of the Faculty of Law at Brunei University near London, England. Currently he is an Associate Professor of Law and Business Ethics at LSU. He holds a PhD in Christian theology and ethics from the University of Cambridge in England and a JD from the University of California at Los Angeles. He is the author ofThe Analogy of Love: Divine and Human Love at the Center of Christian Theology(Imprint Academic, 2007) andEconomic Justice and Natural Law(forthcoming from Cambridge University Press). He has had articles on theology, philosophy, and law published in such journals asReligious Studies,theOxford Journal of Legal Studies,andLegal Theory. He is an enthusiastic native southern Californian.

With such academic and literary background, it is likely that he'll add new perspective(s) to the topic to be presented May 9.

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