A tightly trained gaze is the fruit of modern specialization. It's helped many of us find jobs; it also keeps many brilliant people out of one.

A typically unexamined feature of this hyper-specialization is the bearing it has on our conceptions of God, who is de facto and essentially not specialized. We're quick to admit (at least I am)—especially when navel gazing, or while being force fed self-selected topical content by Facebook algorithms—that God can be found even in the mundaneness of physical being. But God is not mundane, and his presence in material things is either entirely uninteresting (i.e., a causal action simpliciter) or available only through a non-material and subjective awareness of the truth about such things in relation to other things.

Contemplating first causes is the goal of philosophy; and in this way God's involvement with the world of limitations is supremely captivating. But theology—even natural theology—is first concerned with God and only secondarily with causes, effects, and finite being. Thus, it makes sense to be wary of microscopic theologies that consist mainly in particular analyses of distinctly material things.

We've always known that language matters; another fruit of modernity (although maybe not exclusively) is the willingness to abuse language to attain power. To many, there's no apparent difference between political theology and a theology of politics, or between natural theology and a theology of nature (or, for that matter, between religious philosophy and a philosophy of religion). Yet the latter constructions aren't benign, and in fact they can even be insidious. Rather than subject some epistemological method to the aim of knowing God, they suggest subjecting God to concepts of empirical things. Certainly, not all such mixups are intentionally abusive, but those that are end up driving from the field (through contorted caricatures) whatever clarity would otherwise remain.

A fine example of the fallout lies with Pope Saint John Paul II's "theology of the body," which has been so often misunderstood and misapplied by even the most well-meaning Christians. The name itself appears strained; although there's a fundamental difference between "body" versus "politics," for example. The form (i.e., intelligibility) of the human body is the human soul, but the form of politics is something much more dispersed. So while it might not be incorrect to emphasize "the body"—i.e., the personal, human subject—as a "locus" for uncovering theological truths, the language we're often given lacks the clarity required to make this vital distinction.

At the very least, in this example, conflating the good effects of John Paul's teaching with the mundaneness of its titling does little to make it more accessible—beyond sloganeering—and does quite a bit to hurt the prospects of other equally sincere theological endeavors. Worse still, it can reinforce deficient philosophical discernment on other less biologically normative questions of Christian anthropology.

Unfortunately, accessible theology has, both here and elsewhere, been equated with microscopic theologies. And it's a measure we must always be keen to resist.

Andrew M. Haines is the editor and founder of Ethika Politika, and co-founder and chief operating officer at Fiat Insight.