Just having seen this argument surface yet again on this blog, I thought I’d address it. The claim is sometimes made that one cannot properly understand or represent another theologian unless personal contact is made with that theologian to see if one is correctly representing their theology. If this is the case, we need to throw out all our textbooks of dead theologians, because there is no way that we can understand them. There is no way to contact them. We cannot possibly understand them, because we do not have access to their up-to-the-minute-yet-changeable-and-flighty-current-thoughts. To engage in church history is impossible. Heaven forbid we should think of words on paper as having any kind of stable meaning, maybe even (shocker!) more stable, more accurate, than personal conversation with someone else. Hmm.
On Misunderstanding Dead Theologians