Scott Postma

A blog about the Great Books, the Craft of Writing, and Human Flourishing.

A Theology of Contemplation

At the root of Christian Humanism–the study of the Great Books, Human Letters, or the Liberal Arts, toward the pursuit of the true, good, and beautiful–is a theology of contemplation.

Though this leisurely art is an important feature of being human, it is all but lost in 21st-century America.

It’s no less true of the church.

We often needn’t look any further than our own backyards to see how Christians unwittingly worship the idols of careers, consumerism, and meaningless amusements.

And where do these leave us? At best, frustrated, anxious, and exhausted, and at worst, abused, bankrupt, and full of despair–certainly without redemption and no closer to true human happiness–the eudaimonia of a well-ordered soul.

Christian Humanism and Classical Christian Education are, in part, an attempt to reclaim a theology of contemplation.

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Ephesians, saying,

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8, ESV)

To think on these things means to give careful thought to a matter, think (about), consider, ponder, let one’s mind dwell on.

To ruminate on what is true is, of course, to ruminate on Scripture, but not only Scripture. Augustine rightly asserted in, On Christian Doctrine, “let every good and true Christian understand that wherever truth may be found, it belongs to his Master.” Tolkien pointed out how the world is full of refracted and fragmented light.

To ponder what is honorable, what is dignified, belongs to a theology of contemplation. The life of a hero comes to mind.

To consider what is just, or righteous, also belongs to a theology of contemplation. So does dwelling on what is lovely, on those beautiful things which cause pleasure or delight. 

And so is reflecting on what is commendable, and on excellent and praiseworthy things.

Taking the time to think is essential to being human; taking the time to think well is essential to being a good human.

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About Scott Postma

Scott is a writer and teacher living in North Idaho. He loves teaching the Great Books, writing and blogging, and collecting more books than he’ll ever read in a lifetime. You can subscribe to the tribe and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

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