Theology is Greed? Henri Nouwen (Quote to Ponder)

O Lord, thinking about you, being fascinated with theological ideas and discussions, being excited about histories of Christian spirituality and stimulated by thoughts and ideas about prayer and meditation, all of this can be as much an expression of greed as the unruly desire for food, possessions, or power.

Every day I see again that only you can teach me to pray, only you can set my heart at rest, only you can let me dwell in your presence. No book, no idea, no concept or theory will ever bring me close to you unless you yourself are the one who lets these instruments become the way to you.

But Lord, let me at least remain open to your initiative; let me wait patiently and attentively for that hour when you will come and break through all the walls I have erected. Teach me, O Lord, to pray.

-Henri Nouwen, in A Cry for Mercy

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  • “unless you yourself are the one who lets these instruments become the way to you.” How true is this?!!! Beautiful prayer here. Making it my own as I read through it. 

  • Anonymous

    Theology “can” be greed for me at times,  and I often use the pursuit of theology to hold God at a distance and keep control. Great quote.  I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea the past few weeks and tried to spend more time in contemplative prayer.

  • Mark Smesrud

    I like knowing more than the people I am ministering to. So, in that sense, it can be greed as I crave to know MORE and that becomes my driving force. 

    While I probably do know more from a theological perspective than most I am ministering to because I have spent the time in the classroom, I must never make it about that. I must stay open to learning from the child who knows only the Bible Stories they have learned in Sunday School, just as I am open to the professors in my seminary. I need to crave God, and that should be my driving force for pursuing more theological understanding. Also, I  have known people that (and have caught my self slipping into this) are more fascinated with ancient practices and disciplines than the God they are claiming to desire to connect to. 

  • Been thinking about this quote all day. There is so much great discussion going on in the world right now about faith, and all of it so easily accessible. I find that I lose entire days thinking about the things of God and not being with him.

    I suppose it’s easier to do, isn’t it? Read, study, talk, discuss – engage ideas instead of mystery. But so much richer to engage the Mystery.