Mission is the mother of theology

“Mission is the mother of theology.” -Martin Kahler

John Drury explains, “What he [Kahler] meant by this is that the early church first began to theologize (explicit reflection on its teaching) in response to the missional encounter of the gospel in new cultures. In other words, the early Christians embedded their claims into the language and mind-set of its pagan mission field in order to bring them into the fold. Such mission-driven theology can be seen at work specifically in the intertwining of Greco-Roman culture and the Hebrew Scriptures, first in an incipient form in the New Testament and later in the full-blown synthesis of Trinitarian and Christological doctrines.

http://www.drurywriting.com/john/drulogion%20-%20Mission%20is%20the%20Mother%20of%20Theology%2011.9.05.htm

Bavinck: On the ‘Central Dogma’ Thesis

“There is no room in dogmatics for a system in which an attempt is made to deduce the truths of faith from an a priori principle, say, from the essence of religion, from the essence of Christianity, from the fact of regeneration, or from the experience of the devout. For dogmatics is a positive science, gets all its material from revelation, and does not have the right to modify or expand that content by speculation apart from that revelation.” Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 1 p. 44

Theology is Theoretical, Practical, or Both?

Herman Bavinck discusses the development of Dogmatics (RD I.34-35). He says that with the Reformation, the practical side of the dogmatics started to shine through more. Dogmatics was concerned with “living for God through Christ, [and] religion, [and] the worship of God.” Modern liberalism pushed this too the extreme, and made it so faith was exclusively concerned with the practical, and without any fixed body of truths to norm it.

BTW NOTE: Reformed theology isn’t against being practical. It aims to keep a balance between theory and practice.