Denying this is particularly unhelpful for those want to try to talk about (or live for) God with one another. For the sake of making a few points, but not in the interests of stereotyping, I'm thinking of three basic people here (all of which typify my own posture at different times):
The average church-goer (that's me) who doesn't want to get too bogged down in theological concerns or get entangled in questions but opts instead for 'the spiritual life'-- That Christian is doing theology (not only in this decision but also in every spiritual activity thereafter). And, I might add, depending on the aggressiveness and the context of this stance, this church-goer may also be trumping other theologies in the process rather than meeting them under mutual submission to the Word of God with the trust that God will be true though we all may be liars.
Now, there can be all sorts of reasons to not get involved in theological discussions at any given time. My concern isn't that everyone needs to nose into every theological discussion or that action be paralysed by indecisive contemplation. My concern is when we pretend we are not theologians, in order to run with our preferred theology.
The academic church-goer (that's me too) needs to think about this as well. It may be that the academics are doing hard-core theology full time and, as recognized by their churches, may have a certain teaching role for the church as a result. But that doesn't excuse them from considering the theology of the average church-goer and taking it into account. If God is who our Christian theology says God is, there may be some things not learned in the textbooks of time, but in the pews and the prayer meetings.
Everyone's a theologian. But that doesn't mean all theology is academic, nor does it mean that academics are the head of the church. It means that all church-goers should pay special attention to careful theology, and vice-versa, with Jesus Christ at the head of all our faith seeking understanding. Saying everyone's a theologian can not be my thinly veiled attempt to tilt the deck so I can trump every discussion with my latest quote from Schleiermacher.
The atheist or agnostic (and who am I kidding if I don't admit that much of the time that's me too?) is an obvious target of my claim as well. I already talked about all this a bit in my last post. [I'm not trying to pick a fight with my atheist friends here, but am trying to finally articulate something on my own blog that I've been proposing in other conversations for a while now.]
In my comments on the last post I quoted an excerpt from Karl Barth, from his posthumously published fragments of the uncompleted fourth volume of the Church Dogmatics. Therein he makes some points and poses some questions of atheists specifically, but later includes that church-goers are perilously in need of facing these questions as well.
He says that there are some you can talk with and some who make talking to almost impossible. To put it very simply, the ones you have difficulty talking to are the ones who reject all talk of God that is not their own. For Barth that is a real problem not only in the atheist-theist conversation but in the theist-theist conversation.
We are either all confronted by God from without, or we are all just asserting our own ideas. These need not be totally mutually exclusive, and some ideas may prove more sound than others, but none of us simply possesses a knowledge of God. At no point is any of us not in process of doing theology.
Thus, the ones who can talk to one another, says Barth, are those who "confess frankly and freely without any such camouflage" that they have a certain idea of God in mind that they are rejecting (or mulling over, or believing). Furthermore, they will confess that they have certain conceptions of reality that they are running with, which include a certain degree of unproven premises and entail the telling of certain stories about how the world works or doesn't work or ought to work.
As Barth puts it: "With such a one it is possible to agree at least on who or what he is trying to deny [or defend]. Does he have in mind the God of a philosophy or metaphysics? Or the God that he regards as the common coefficient of all the religions known to him? Or the God whom he remembers as a shadowy figure in some Christian church and theology -- perhaps because this has badly proclaimed God to him or he has badly understood it?" (Karl Barth, The Christian Life, p. 290)
It seems to me that if we want to talk about God or live together in relation to that discussion we're going to have to get straight who or what we are talking about or not talking about. We're going to have to do some theology. I'm not saying that to argue that from there on its an open shut case and I win and you don't. I'm just saying we need to confess that everyone's a theologian, and come to grips with how it might be possible to proceed.