Nothing could be more necessary to the Christian life than theology.
The very fact that I have to convince you of this says a lot about our current church culture.
What is theology?
While many hear the word “theology” and think “study” or “boring,” theology should evoke a vision of a crucified messiah that brings good news through his death and resurrection. This is where theology starts. Salvation and theology go hand in hand.
Christian Theology means putting Jesus at center of your thinking and living. Learning to think about life with Jesus at the center of it is theology’s purpose. I like how N.T. Wright describes Paul as the inventor of Christian Theology. His basic premise is that Paul had to think new things about what it meant to follow God, read Scripture, and live as a result of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Confessing Jesus as Lord is a theological statement. It says something about God and his nature. It changes a person’s life because it brings salvation. Other simple things we Christians say like “Jesus is the Jewish messiah” or “Jesus is the Son of God” are heavily loaded theological phrases. Each are vital to the church’s identity and belief. But more than just some doctrines that define a church’s beliefs, they change the way we live when we profess and believe them as individuals. Theology does more than provide us with words to believe. Theology changes everything.
Why is theology necessary?
If theology means learning to think and live more like Jesus, what could be more necessary for our lives? In fact, based on this definition, I suspect you have been doing theology for quite some time. Every time you strive to serve God faithfully, or grow closer to him, you do theology. That is why this site is called “Theology in Progress,” and our goal is to grow in Christ through conversation. Our striving together to discover God’s will and become more like him is theology.
Doing theology is a way to build community and develop strong Christian relationships. It binds the church together. It shows us our purpose. It guides our actions and decisions. Our goal is to develop it in a positive way with other believers that is guided by the Holy Spirit.
What is the Purpose of Theology?
Theology deals with the nature of truth. Any time someone claims to speak about God and his nature, they are making some pretty bold claims. These claims can only be true or false. Theology is our way of reflecting on God’s revelation to better understand reality. Theology gives us a window to see reality as God reveals it. To believe something about God is to believe it to be true.
We can speculate on certain aspects of theology, but Christian theology, inherently, claims that its beliefs are the truth. So, if one is to believe the Bible, Jesus is not just part of this ultimate truth or one of the ways to achieve salvation. Instead, Jesus is the only way to receive salvation.
It would be meaningless for a religion to claim something is true without actually believing it. We call this sort of imagination fantasy. Our culture is saturated with plenty of fantasies: epic stories involving bravery, love, and sacrifice. These stories, however, are not meant to be believed as true.
Our culture uses these fictional stories as a way to communicate an aspect of truth. Our politically correct society tells us that we cannot know all of “the” truth, so we must search for aspects of the truth and individually decide what is most important to us. To claim that a complete or ultimate truth exists isn’t just offensive to some, but is seen as downright arrogant and egotistical. We must avoid this trap when doing Christian theology. Jesus is not just a wise teacher, or one of the paths to God. To do Christian theology is to believe Jesus is the only way to God. As a result, all of life is now organized and seen through the lens of Christ. When we see through this lens, we do theology.
How Do We Go Forward?
We may never have “all” the truth or know everything about God, but we are called to work out our salvation together. This is why Theology in Progress exists. We believe doing theology in community is the best way to grow in Christ. Our goal is to become more like Jesus and do his will. As we strive to become more like Jesus, our thinking and our lives are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. We do theology to know God. We do theology to serve others. We do theology to become the people God has called us to be.
Join the conversation: What other ways can theology affect our lives?
Subscribe to join us as we grow in Christ through every conversation. You know theology is necessary. Now let’s grow together!