Why I Study Theology – Redux

2019 Update…

I wrote this three years ago when I relaunched my website. As I reread it this past week, I found it to be a perfect starting point to talk about where I’ve been and where I’ve landed over these years. In particular, in light of my recent dabbling in “deconstructing” my faith, I felt this, along with a few updates, best represents where I’ve settled. I have come full circle, really, and ended up where I started in many ways, except that I now have a better grasp of the why behind the what. Anyway, here goes…

A question that is frequently asked of me when people find out I went to Trinity is, “Why did you go to seminary?” They are usually expecting a response that I have been called to this or that kind of ministry. And usually I simply say, “Because I wanted to study theology.”

I’m not trying to be coy in that response. That’s about as accurate a statement as I can give. I would not say that I am called to what would be termed “vocational ministry”; but I am called by a deep desire to know the Lord, understand the faith I proclaim, and then share that truth with others. (2019) – In recent years I have questioned whether I should be in vocational ministry. My final conclusion is no, I am called to be a light in my current vocation in the marketplace, using the skills and talents God has given me to serve others where I am. This is a high calling, as we are all part of the royal priesthood, and do not need ordination or a position on a church staff to do the work of the Kingdom. Our ministers are called to equip is to go out into the world and do the work of the ministry in our everyday lives. My ministry is the life I live in front of my friends and coworkers.

In reality, all of us on some level study theology. We are all armchair theologians. Everyone has their own idea about who God is, what He is like, etc. Even an atheist has a “theology” – they have determined there is no god. That is a theology – it is a conclusion about who God is (or in this case isn’t).

But this is not an apologetics site, so I will not be arguing for the existence of God, or the veracity of the Bible, etc. (2019) – Well…okay, maybe it is. Yes, I have links to resources and websites that have helped me to better understand my faith. But my task here is to help you do the same. There are excellent resources available from people much more capable than I that can wrestle with those questions, some of which I have links on this site.

I am a Christian, and therefore I come to my writing with a set of presuppositions that I have already worked out. Some of those presuppositions are that God exists; He has revealed Himself to us in His Word; and that His Word is true.

My desire in writing is to encourage believers to think about what we believe and why…and then to go beyond that to decide how this belief should impact our daily lives. It seems that thinking gets a bad rap these days, and yet our Lord tells us to love the Lord our God with all our soul, heart, mind and strength. In other words, with our entire being, and that includes our minds. We don’t check our minds at the door of the church. We cannot reduce the Christian life to merely an intellectual pursuit; but if we are going to look at our lives as believers holistically, we also cannot discard the life of the mind. It is a part of our being that is being changed and transformed by the Holy Spirit as we grow in the Lord.

We are called in many places in the New Testament to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23; Colossians 3:10). How are our minds renewed? By the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. This sounds so mystical, but really it is not; supernatural, yes, for it cannot happen apart from the Spirit’s work. It is a reality, a gift we receive as children of God. The Holy Spirit enlightens the mind and the heart to receive the truth revealed in Scripture. (2019) – Of late, I have felt less than “spiritual” because my primary means of connection with God is through this intellectual pursuit. I am not a giant brain walking around; there is more to me than my mind. But the Lord has given me this mind and this passion and wants me to use it to glorify Him. To that end, my primary focus going forward will be capturing the wonder and awe of God through the study of Him, how He has revealed Himself, not how I wish Him to be. This will require I be courageous and go against the grain somewhat.

An important factor in any relationship is knowledge – we must know the person with which we are having the relationship. If I know nothing about you, how can I relate to you? This is no less true with the Lord. The study of theology is the pursuit of knowing God. Knowing His character, His ways, His purposes. It is important to note, however, the knowledge is not an end in itself. We should not pursue knowledge so that we can boast in how smart we are, for no matter how much we know about Him, we will never exhaust the depths and riches of who He is. Rather, we should seek to know God more so we can love Him more deeply.

(2019) – The bottom line is: God has provided revelation about Himself via His Word. We cannot know Him exhaustively; but He has given us enough to know Him salvifically. His revelation is not wrong simply because we don’t like what He has to say. While we can never remove our own lenses to see the world exactly as God sees it, we can, through the power of the Holy Spirit, in the presence of the community of faith, and with the help of 2,000 years of theological reflection, ascertain that which makes us wise unto salvation. I trust His Word. I believe His Word. I want to know His Word more deeply so I may know Him more deeply. Only then will I be able to engage the world and the issues that abound with clear eyes and a steady spirit.

That desire – loving God more deeply – is why I study theology.

I pray you would join me in that pursuit.

Grace and peace…

 

 

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