The questions

This page suggests the kinds of direction that discussing the Six Questions in Shaping Our Disciplines for Christ might go. Five questions are provided for discussion to stimulate Christians towards a vision of how they might contribute, as followers of Christ, to the content of their discipline (rather than merely its practice). Q4 is the most important, but Q1-3 help us get to it. The questions are:

  • Q1. Intuitive Awareness: What do you like and not like about your discipline? (Purpose: to get discussion started)
  • Q2. Perspectives: What are the main perspectives (paradigms) that influence your discipline? (Purpose: to identify what is most meaningful to those working in the disciplines, as basis for later questions.)
  • Q3. Omissions and Distortions: What is Missing? Is there any major issue in the discipline that is meaningful in human life but which is not given its due in the discipline? (Which it is reasonable to think should be relevant to the discipline) Purpose: to see how current perspectives distort or constrain the fruitful development of the discipline, and to reveal possible opportunities for a Christian view to make a contribution.)
  • Q4. Possible Contributions (this is the main question): Given the above discussion, are there any possible contributions that a Biblical viewpoint might make that address some of the omissions or distortions? Such contributions might be welcomed by the field as a contribution. (Purpose: to get us thinking positively about contributions we might make, at least in long term, and see which are the more significant.)
  • Q5. Friends: Is there any group in the discipline that recognises the omissions or distortions (even if they try to address them in ways we might not like)? (Purpose: it is good to work with rather than against others, to gain from their experience and maybe even to “season with salt” their work.)
  • Q6. Planning for Groups: How might you introduce the new ideas into the thought and practice of the discipline in a way that people will listen to and understand?

As you will see, the idea behind this approach is that Christian thought should neither antagonise nor acquiesce to mainstream thought, but should critically enrich it.

However, if we begin with Q4 (what contribtions), we are likely to think up what we as Christians believe to be a good contribution but which would mean little to those working in the field. We have to respond to what is going on in the field, and not to an agenda of our own. This is why Q4 is the main question, and Q1-3 are there to help reach it in a way that should be acceptable to those working in the discipline.

It is based on the idea that all humanity is working and thinking within God’s good, meaningful creation, and that the realities of this creation will not be obliterated but people will keep on discovering aspects of it. (Even though what they do with the discovered aspects might be governed by sin or idolatry etc.) It is based on the idea that perspectives or paradigms that have emerged do so as expressions of some important kernel of meaning that has been discovered in the discipline. It is also based on the idea that God’s people should humbly lead rather than follow or resist.

Note: By ‘discipline’ we mean both an area in which theory is developed (whether in mathematics, natural sciences, humanities, arts, etc.) and a practical area that tries to improve the world in relevant ways. It might be useful to see each discipline as roughly centred on an area of meaning – e.g. statistics may be centred on countable amount, psychology on mental activity, jurisprudence on the notion of ‘due’. Better than trying to define boundaries.