The Jazz Theologian

The Jazz Theologian


Jazz Theology 101–with visiting professor Carl Ellis (Final Session)

posted by Robert Gelinas

"If the classical approach to theology has been called ‘the queen of sciences,’ the jazz approach to theology could be called the ‘queen of the arts.’ The latter investigates God’s dealing with people in the joys and trails of daily life…The jazz approach is not so much concerned with the status of theological propositions as with the hurts of oppressed people. It is communicated not so much by a literary tradition as by an oral tradition. And it is not so much concerned with facts as it is with life skills: knowing how rather than knowing that."

"The great advantage of the jazz approach to theology is its requirement that people be involved with Truth.” Jazz theology invites us to participate in the propositions. To enter in to the Biblical story and know the truth so that the truth can set us free.

"Jazz theology is a participation in the basic patterns revealed in biblical life situations. It inquires not only what God did and said but how he said and did it. Further more, it expects him to do it again in a similar way in our lives…Effective Black preachers respond to current situations by theologizing creatively on their feet, just as jazz musicians improvise new music and enliven old songs in response to the feeling and needs of the moment."

When you read the scriptures, what tools or tips have you discovered to enter in to the text and experience the living word? How do you keep theology from being just informational?



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Reid Davis

posted July 29, 2009 at 10:58 pm


I learned a LOT from Rev. Ellis while at New City Fellowship in the early ’90s. (Especially being a white Presbyterian!) Thanks so much for posting this wisdom. Great stuff.



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