Our Story: Theology in the Midst of Conversation
It was 11 o’clock. We had been sitting in Josh’s office for two hours now. This after spending four hours studying in the library. Somehow, we just weren’t done yet. This was typical of our Tuesday nights.
On our usual study night, we would leave work, grab Chinese food from one of our favorite restaurants, then head the library at AGTS. This was the night we would work on research papers for class. All the biblical and theological resources at hand ready to be picked and devoured for the intellectual and spiritual sustenance they held.
Library night was one of my favorite nights of the week. Not only did I get to read and explore things in the Bible I never knew, but I was able to do it with someone else.
I know what you must be thinking. The library doesn’t sound like a great place to hang out or socialize, that is, unless you’re a nerd. But that wasn’t it.
Growing Through Conversation
Sure, we were reading big thick books and trudging over big words. But what made library night great, was that it was a time to ask questions, and look for answers.
Often, Josh and I would be working on papers for completely different topics, but sitting across a big library table, we would find ourselves looking up from a book or our computers. We would pause, take a deep breath, and then ask a question. We would really just sort of throw it out there, as if we were just asking it to empty space. Staring blankly off into space, caught up in our own heads, but seeking an answer from anybody that dared to listen.
No matter what he was doing, Josh would always pause to think. It didn’t matter if I was working on OT and he NT. Or if I was writing a theological paper and he an exegetical. We would always stop to consider the other.
I think we somehow knew it then, but even though we were working on seemingly different subjects, they were the same. Our questions and problems dealt with the same Bible and were aimed at knowing the same the God. Taking time to think over answers that were not our own had a profound impact on how we think about theology and our relationships with others.
You see, these questions, when left unanswered, caused a deep hunger in us. Not just to get an answer and be right (although that may have been part), but we recognized a deeper meaning in the questions we were asking, and it was worth it to work together to find answers.
The Holy Spirit’s Work
Of course, we didn’t realize much of this at the time. It was only years later after much reflection that we were able to look back and see what God was doing in our lives through our conversations. These conversations, that were so intense and so deep, that we encountered a third person during these late “study” nights.
I remember the first time the Holy Spirit showed up. There was no ecstatic experience of speaking in tongues. We weren’t “slain in the Spirit.” We just finished up a conversation. I’m not even sure what we were talking about, but we ended up talking about the gospel and how it affected every part of our lives. Talking about the gospel this way profoundly changed the way we saw it.
This continues to be a topic that we frequently revisit because of its life changing power. And that is what we recognized that night. Both of us, silent. We stopped. At that moment, we knew we were in the presence of the Holy Spirit. It was strong and thick in the air. It was like you could physically feel the weight and warmth of his presence. Somehow, through our conversation, the Holy Spirit had manifested in that room without us knowing it, and he changed us.
He’s continued to change us through our conversations over the last several years, and he continues to work in us today. You wouldn’t normally think that the Holy Spirit would move as a result of a simple, spontaneous, conversation. But we’ve seen him transform our lives over and over again just by sharing our struggles, our fears, our doubts, and our honest questions with each other. Together we’ve worked to find answers and know God more through it all.
Real Conversations with Real People
That’s what finding answers is really about: knowing God. It’s about having a relationship with him. The good news is we don’t do this alone. It’s not just about “us and God.” It is about God and a plural “us.” We are part of an entire community all striving for the same answers. We shouldn’t walk alone.
At first, when hearing that we are going to teach you how to have a conversation, you might think, “Why do I need to learn that? I have conversations all the time.”
It’s true. We all have conversations throughout the day. And most of us have no difficulty beginning and participating in conversation with our co-workers, friends, and families. We have conversations so often, that we don’t consciously acknowledge them.
They are how we communicate with the world. They allow us to vent, they allow us to think. They allow to work through tough situations and get advice about big and small decisions. We have them for fun, and we have them when we need to deal with a serious matter. Everyone dreads the four words spoken in a deep somber voice, “We need to talk.”
Conversations are too important to our everyday lives to let them go by us unconsciously. They have tremendous power to affect our lives and the lives of those around us. Harnessing the power of conversation allows us to grow as individuals and makes our relationships more fulfilling. We are able to connect with others, to be heard, and to add value to the lives of others.In the Christian life, conversations play a vital role in growth. We weren’t meant to live alone. When conversations happen, we have the potential to grow.
Having a Theological Conversation on Purpose
Conversationally Speaking is a great book for learning the basics of conversation. The purpose of the book is to teach you how to have better conversations to help enhance your social skills. A lot in this book can help us communicate with one another and have theological conversations in a respectful and healthy way.
We highly recommend Conversationally Speaking as a general guide to help you grow in Christ through your conversations with others.
This is an excerpt from e-book “Doing Theology Conversationally Speaking”. Get it for FREE NOW! Just tell us where to send it.