I wanted to spend a few moments to look at Theology in a casual manner on a Thursday. This was actually something my wife suggested in a conversation we were having about how to teach our children and those in the church theology.
In the Christian community the word “Theology” can have a broad meaning. Some hear it and become guarded, thinking that this is something for the students in seminary or bible college. It is academic and or those in the ivory towers. Others may think of division in the church which has stirred from theological debates and understanding.
Yes, it can be somewhat of a turn off to some, but on the other hand you can approach Christian theology as what a Christian is all about.
Christian theology at the core is Christian and every Christian is a theologian.
Everyone is a Theologian
Granted, that can be a big statement but really every person who has ever existed is a theologian. If we define theology at its simplest definition, as the study of God, everyone person has had a thought about God, whether that thought is right or wrong.
For example, The Atheist says, “There is no god.” That alone is a thought about God, though it is incorrect. That is a theological statement. Theology is a science but it is also more than a science.
What is Christian Theology
Mentioned above it is the study of God.
To study God means that we study God through the way God has revealed himself through the Word of God (The Bible or Scripture). This is what in academics is called Theology proper, which is the discipline of studying God through the revelation of the Bible.
Within this scope you can peel the different layers that are within theology. For example, Christology, which is the study of Christ. Or, hamartiology, which is the study of sin. Each of these specific areas of theology are looked at through the lens of the Bible.
How should we respond to Theology:
As a Christian we need to not fear or be intimidated by theology but pursue in understanding and study of what God’s word says about who he is. Here are some reasons to study theology
Theology is practical– It is lived out, not just studied but applied. Not just read but lived. Not just thought about but preached outload. Your God-view shapes your world-view. Theology is lived out, even if you aware of it or not.
Theology is missional– Theology is a witness. Your God-view affects your worldview. What you think about God is translanted in what you say about God. How do we know that we are to make disciples of all nations and how do we know what these disciples are supposed to look like and what are we to teach these disciples (Matt 28:19-20). These are theological questions.
Theology is biblical– What we know and say about God comes from the Bible. Christian theology is not man’s creation but found in the Word of God.
Theology is worship– When you study who God is, it leads to the response of worship. The psalmist rightly declares, “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our maker” (Psalm 95:6)! The psalmist makes the theological statement that God who is maker (Creator) is worthy of worship.
Theology is historical- When you look at history and throughout history you see the study of theology. Christians who have gone before us, who studied the Bible to know more about God. We see theology becoming clearer as truths were discovered from the Bible and communicated for us to know more about who God is. Christian theology is historical which means that it is family history. As believers we all share in this story!
Theology is Apologetic (not I’m sorry)- We need to know how to define and defend what we believe. Theology helps us in our endeavors to do just that.
Theology is to disciple– The idea of theology is to build up or to grow in our awe of God. R. C. Sproul wrote:
The purpose of theology is not to tickle our intellects but to instruct us in the ways of God, so that we can grow up into maturity and fullness of obedience to Him. That is why we engage in theology.
This mindset is for the believer but also how a believer disciples others.
What are some of your questions that you may have about theology?
I had the privilege of interviewing Pastor Elijah Braggs from Harvest Christian Fellowship on race, racism, and how the church should respond. It was sobering yet encouraging as we discussed what it means to be made in the image of God (Imago Dei) and the importance for us to pause, pray, and respond biblically.
In a time of our history when not only as a nation we should be united for the greater good of one another because of the impact of COVID-19 but more so within the church. This is a time that is hard for the world but the church can shine bright but the problem is there is a division within the church.
First, we have had division on whether the church should meet in person or not. Personally, we have had this conversation with those who have felt like the church is in the wrong for not pushing to meet in person because the goes against our civil liberties while we know others who argue we need to listen to the government out of love for the neighbor.
Second, the issue of masks. Yes! Within the church, there were heated debates about wearing a mask or not. Same thing, the liberties we have to not wear a mask or to wear one for the love of other people (I am not making this up) This is the 2020 debate among Christians, forget smoking, drinking, or tattoos as the past debates of Christian liberties, now it is to wear a mask or not.
Third, which has been a divisive issue for most of Christendom, race, and racism. If you do not know what is going on across America in response to the death of George Floyd. In America, we have the freedom to use our voice and to fight against injustice. As Christians, we should care about how every human being regardless of color is made in the image of God. All of this points to the spiritual battle that is taking place. More now than ever the church needs to be united. In fact, because of Christ, we are united!
We have an enemy
I am grieved at what is going on. This should not be happening. This post is not to dissect the situation but to remind the church of the enemy we have who wants to divide the church. We see even in the book of Acts that if the devil can not stop the church through persecution then he turns his attention inwardly. The Bible tells us that the enemy called a thief comes kills, steals, and destroys (John 10:10). Or he is also described as our adversary and vividly like a roaring lion seeking one to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
There are sin and sinful actions that take place. Hurt and pain. Death and chaos. Injustice and oppression. These take place in this life that shouldn’t but because of the Fall this happens (Gen. 3). This is where the church needs to be beacons of light because Jesus is the light of the world (Matt 5:14; John 8:12).
In Christ, we are One
When there is hurt and even more hurt, we must come together to pray, to care, to comfort. The Gospel not only saves us from sin, we have peace with God, we have eternal life, but the gospel also unites other believers together because we are one in Christ. Unity is necessary! The Puritan Richard Baxter is known for his desire and pursuit of Christian unity. He wrote,
In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity.
The Apostle Paul reminds us of this truth, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves[d] or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:12-13). Unity is necessary because of the work of the gospel.
The Apostle Paul mentions race and status, regardless, we are one in Christ. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection defeated sin and united image-bearers who are in Christ. Church let us work together, stand together, love together, weep together, cry together, and long for Christ’s return together because he is making all things new (Rev. 21:5).
If we want to fight, then fight to remember our unity in Christ. Be careful knowing that the enemy is wanting that wedge to hinder the work of the gospel going out. At a time that the world is going to listen, let us boldly proclaim the gospel. The world is watching, let us be gospel lights!
I just launched a new podcast, Anchored in Truth where I address how the Gospel and life collide. In this introductory episode I talk with my wife Alyssa about what has happened these past 3 months and what Anchored in Truth is about.