This article first appeared in The Global Voice: The Global Outreach Developments Int’l Newsletter: Issue 20, May 2005. You can read the whole edition here.
Theology: the study of religious faith, practice, and experience; especially: the study of God and God’s relation to the world (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
Did you know that your “theology” is at the foundation of how you live? Whether you are a “religious” person or not, your theology plays into the way you interact with God, your family, friends and the rest of the world. It’s your theology that validates, or invalidates, the opening lines of this article. It’s your theology that positions itself as the standard by which all acquired knowledge is measured.
Theology stands at the threshold between reason and action.
For example, I make a statement like this:
In order to live a life that God approves of, it is necessarily for you to voluntarily suffer injury, grief and affliction.
Two things now take place: 1) Within your mind you will process the validity of the statement using logic, reason and theology, 2) The verdict from the process of number 1 now determines your active response to the statement.
If your logic, reason and theology says, “God wants the best for us; His concern for our health and prosperity, demands us to make wise decisions that will not lead into harm, but into safety and abundant life…” then you would invalidate the statement and your active response would be to live in opposition to it. For even to disagree with it in theory is to also disagree with it in practice, which in turn makes your life an opposing statement.
In contrast, to agree with this statement puts one in the position of response; to suffer injury, grief and affliction, hence living a life God approves of. However, prior to the action of response, the statement was considered through the validation process using logic, reason and theology.
Of the three: logic, reason and theology, which carries the most weight into making a decision? Perhaps for one who does not know God, it would be either logic or reason, but for one who professes knowledge of God, should it not be their theology?
Can theology by the product of mere logic and reason? Can an understanding of God and how He relates to the world be obtained solely through the exercise of the mind? If it can, then who is our theology accountable to? Wouldn’t its accountability be found in our previous understanding, presuppositions, society, culture and familial environment? Where does God come in? Is theology derived from the observation and analysis of the intellect?
Ephesians 1:16-18 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened…
John 1:18 No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. (revealed him, or explained him)
If our theology is not rooted in God’s revelation of Himself through His Word, then we are left to our abased, finite minds. If the way we understand God is not grounded in His Words about who He is, then we are left to that which makes best sense to us; we are left to make decisions, plan for the future and live out existence based upon what seems best to us. In fact, we will even use the Scriptures, God’s Word itself, to prove why what makes best sense to us is correct. God will become a product of our logic and reason, hence formulating our own theology. God’s revelation of Himself, illumination, the Spirit of wisdom and revelation is therefore not required.
Oh, and in case you were wondering…
2 Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.