Does Theology Intimidate You?
If Theology intimidates you, you’re not alone. Most people get intimidated when they hear others talking about theology. I still get intimidated by it even though I’ve devoted my entire life to studying it. This is especially true when I’m around people that know more about theology than I do.
It’s completely natural to fear things we don’t know. Our brains are wired that way to keep us alive. And it’s okay to feel fear. It’s a good thing! When we are afraid of doing theology it means we understand that it’s a task much bigger than we are. It’s the task of trying to know more of God. And fear of God, after all, is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).
Fearing God is healthy. However, most of us are afraid to talk theology around others that know more than we do. We are afraid we’ll say something wrong and we’ll look stupid. We don’t want to say what we really think because if we’re wrong, it means what we think about God is wrong. And if what we think about God is wrong, it means we might be living our lives wrong, which could have eternal consequences. The stakes are high when we do theology with others.
Theology also intimidates us because we think it’s something only old (white) men do locked away in an “ivory tower” somewhere isolated from the church and the rest of the world. We tend to think is has little to do with the “practical” side of how the church operates, and by extension, our own lives (which are really part of the church).
We usually turn to theology when they want the answer to a question. We have reduced theology to a science that only answers questions we have about God and what he can do. “Can God make a hotdog so big he can’t eat it is?” has plagued theologians since the invention of the hotdog. The problem with asking the questions we ask is that most of the time, the Bible doesn’t ask them. When we do theology like this, it makes it look like theology doesn’t apply to our lives because we ask the Bible questions it can’t answer.
Theology Is About Asking The Right Questions
However, instead of going to Scripture with a set of question intent on finding answers we want––answers the Bible doesn’t provide––we need to approach Scripture to find the questions and answers the Bible actually has. Those are the answers we should organize our lives around.
One of the first and greatest lessons I learned at Bible College was that “everyone’s a theologian.” We all do theology, everyday, without even noticing. Actively doing theology––taking ownership of the process––however, is a vital part of the Christian life.
We should intentionally practice theological discovery, just as we practice other spiritual disciplines.
One of the reasons people are put off by theology is because of misconceptions about how to do it and its purpose.
Theology is more than a scientific approach to Scripture. Theology is a way to connect and commune with God by seeking and praying to know Him and understand His Will better. It is about exploring the glorious mystery of salvation so as to more accurately proclaim the gospel and remain faithful to God’s Mission as we work to serve His Kingdom.
Theology does not have to be intimidating. You don’t have to use big “theological” words in order to do theology (although sometimes it helps). Anyone can do theology by simply sitting down with Scripture and asking, “What is God doing in this passage to redeem humanity.”
For all of the definitions of theology out there, I think a simple way to understand what theology does is to say: It looks for connections in Scripture to discover who God is and what His plan for redemption is. As one of my professors used to say, we must look for God’s “theo-logic” in the text.
When we get down to the heart of the issue, real theology is about relationship––the relationship between God and humanity.
What Theology Means for Us
We are all at different stages in our Christian walk, and inevitably we have different views and perspectives on theological ideas. Our theology is influenced by our situations in life, our culture, our gender, our race, and our hermeneutic (interpretive principle) which we bring to the text.
It is impossible for us to ignore all of this “baggage” when reading Scripture. It is impossible to have a completely objective approach to Scripture, and that is why we need the Body of Christ––the whole Body. As Christians, we need to engage in this theological task with our brothers and sisters both in our local churches and from around the world.
We need to look at different perspectives in order to build one another up in the Lord, correcting those who need correcting, and receiving correction when we err.
This means theology is a humbling experience. We must open our hearts and minds to what the Holy Spirit might want to say through another member of Christ’s Church so that the entire Body might be strengthened.
All of our individual theologies are in progress and in need of further development. Therefore, don’t shy away from doing theology. Learn to engage in this humbling, yet deeply rewarding, discipline.
You will see your relationship with God grow deeper than you thought possible. You will see your relationships with your friends and family grow stronger. This is why Theology in Progress was founded. We want to share our theological experiences with other Christians who recognize their development is still in progress but who also want to grow in their relationship with Christ.
We believe that when the Church gets back to engaging in theology directly––instead of shying away from it––when we allow theological principles in Scripture to speak to the way we “do” church and live our Christian lives––instead of allowing them to be dictated by worldly pragmatism––we will see a new revolution in the Church that will change the world. We believe we will see God’s Kingdom come and His will done on earth in a fresh new way.