Theology, as it is often misunderstood, is the long, drawn out, boring study of an ancient god from an ancient, irrelevant book that only people with comb-overs and tweed jackets do. And though it is entirely possible that more Christians read the Left Behind series then who have read their Bible, it is not accurate to suggest that theology is only for musty-smelling Bible thumpers with nothing better to do with their time. In fact, anyone – including the hip art students from UFV and the waitress who serves me at IHOP – anyone who thinks anything about God is, in some way, delving into theology. The distinction, however, is in how we apply our theology.
Allow me to give you a primer on theology…
Theology, widely understood, is the study of God. God, in his divine wisdom, has chosen to reveal parts of who he is through his Son, Jesus Christ, and through his written word, the Bible. This means that there are aspects of God that we can discover and explore, and other parts that God has chosen to remain hidden, undisclosed, and mysterious which, for every self-professed pop philosopher with a blog who took debating in high school, is a high hurdle to jump over. Additionally, Scripture in its entirety is God’s primary way of communicating with us, revealing His character, attributes, promises, and, ultimately, revealing his Son Jesus Christ.
One of my favorite early definitions of theology is “union with God through prayer”, which sounds more hippie then it actually is. Unfortunately for the tie-dyed, long haired, bluegrass, non-conformist hippie in all of us, union with God means submission to his rule and reign. Meaning this, when we come to Scripture we must come in prayerful submission and repentance recognizing that the Bible is the authority that we reason and live our lives by. A humble studying and application of Scripture should, above all else, point us to Jesus, move us to worship, and energize us towards conforming our lives to look more like the life of Jesus our King and Savior and less like Cheech and Chong whose closest union was with a really big joint and some snack food.
Sadly, in a culture whose anthem is ‘Raise your fist, rebel, resist!’ the question of humble submission to anyone’s authority – especially that of the Bible – is openly mocked and critically questioned. Together, as the Church in Abbotsford, who loves our city and enjoys its culture, we will continually be faced with the complicated issue of restating the truth of Scripture in creative ways that faithfully communicate the Gospel, advance the mission of Jesus’ church, and address the issues that men, women, youth, and children are facing day to day.
Our goal then, with theology, is to clearly articulate the content of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the context of the culture surrounding us. This is our attempt to respond to God’s story with a proper view of God, ourselves, the church, and the culture around us. To God be the glory.