Thursday, October 06, 2005

Whose Job is theology?

I was having a conversation yesterday about “calling” and pastoral ministry. As my friend and I were talking we discussed that a pastor should, generally, know more about scripture than a construction worker, for example. A pastor needs to be more educated because he’s leading people. My worry is that we will lay all the theological authority on the “smart people.” What if only the big minds had access to biblical interpretation and theology? Should the construction worker forfeit all and be at the mercy of his pastor? The beauty of theology is that everyone has one… everyone is a theologian. If only the big minds had access then we’d be foolish to be talking about it. We’d just read C.S. Lewis and Dallas Willard and drop the whole thing. The truth is YOU have access to theology just as much as Dallas Willard… it’s your job.

What’s amazing about theology is that it’s less about finding answers and more about experience and daily life. If you neglect your theological task and assimilate to someone else’s ideas then it’s never going to be real to you.

I often run theological circles. I begin to bring into question something I’ve always “known” and come out believing the same thing. As I explore and probe my beliefs I’m not actually changing them (sometimes I do) I’m claiming them. Your job in theology is to wrestle. Wrestling is the only sport in the Bible In Genesis 32 Jacob wrestles with God and what happens? Jacob is blessed, he comes out limping but he’s blessed. People who really do theology, limp. When we wrestle with our theology and with scripture we are making it our own and not someone else’s. We will come out limping but we will be blessed.

7 comments:

Kim said...

As usual, great post. This is my experience, too. My beliefs are not changed by the wrestling, just confirmed.

jeff said...

Jesus said, "The Words that I say to you are spirit and life"

When i read your post, i come back to the thought of 'rhema' or spirit knowledge, versus head knowledge.

When theological terms and ideas are meditated and contemplated, they become a part of the heart. And when revelation or theology becomes a heart matter, it moves from the position of being 'learned' to the place of being 'received'. And no amount of argument or debate can change that.

Nice post.

Teresa said...

Thank You Wes. I don't have anything else to say for a change--Thanks!!!

Kris said...

Wes, I agree 1000% with you and Jeff. Learning is great, but when our spiritual ears hear, it changes us. Whoever has ears to hear let him hear.

Jennifer said...

Great post Wes!

Flip said...

Wes - can you explain why theology is really important for all Christians? Do you think it only serves to strengthen our faith? Or - Do you think its merely a responsibility? I'm not playing devils advocate here - I'm just curious. Also - what advice would you give to people on building or learning theology? And if people go off to learn more about theology - how to ensure they don't head down the wrong path with it? I have other questions but this is enough for now.

WES ELLIS said...

Flip,
I'll try to answer all your questions but be patient with me.

First... Yes Theology is important for Christians but not just Christians... everyone. Wheather you realize or admit it or not you and everyone else has a theology about something and it directly effects your life. For example If you believe that there is nothing greater, no God abd that everyhting is product of chance you have a great ammount of faith to believe that and you will live life never looking outside yourself for anything. Theology is what guides your understanding of things and sets you where you are.

Second; theology is not God. It is not merely a default respondsebility. We must understand that theology is flexable and it is there to push us to a fuller understanding of ourselves and of God. Take the Trinity for example... if you believe in the trinity and, let's say, it's true. You will have a fuller understanding and a deeper experience of God than someone who doesn't. Can someon who doesn't carry a trinity theology still love and follow God...? I think so. our faith does not crumble at the questioning of theology but through it we're better off to put it lightly. We cannot mistake the "Cart for the path," so to speak. We cannot see the theologies as God, they are the avenue throuh which we articulate and understand God.

My advice for someone getting started is DON"T GO IT ALONE! God meant for us to seek Him in community. There are some, very few, but some essentials to Christianity. You can question these un nogotiables but not draw away from them and still claim to floow christ. You decide what the non-negotiables are but the one that stands strongest for me is the Charachter of God. With all the things I question and mess with my Beliefs will always stand firmly on the fact that God is Good. Also to call yourself a Christian you must take seriousely the teachings of Jesus. Find some people who are open minded and work through things with them.

I trust that as long as we are truly seeking God first our theology will not lead us in the wrong direction. Remember we are seeking not to know about God but to know God.