Theology. Now there’s a light-hearted, breezy topic. Usually when someone brings up theology, people think of dusty old guys, sitting in a dusty old library, reading dusty old books and saying words regular people don’t understand. That’s what I used to think. Even when I had a young theology professor, most of the time I was thinking, “what’s he talking about.”
Theology, a noun, according to this wonderful wiki entry, means “the study of God or, more generally, the study of religious faith, practice, and experience, or of spirituality.”
If you look at the word, what you are seeing is two Greek words put together – Theos (θεός) and Logos (λόγος). The first one means God, the second means Word. So, what I’m seeing, and my thinking is very simple, theology is the study of God’s Word – how it relates to us, how we relate to it, how we can live it and do it and how others can be affected by it.
That definition, in my thinking, takes the word “theology” from the noun column and puts it squarely in the verb column. Theology is something you do. Here’s what I mean – Hebrews 4:12, says this: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
These are some powerful words. Read it again – the Word of God is alive! It’s active! And it will tear you up – if you will not just read it, but if you do it as well. This tells me that Theos and Logos, two Greek nouns, when used together in this context are action words. Verbs.
The Word of God is a person, Jesus Christ, and he wants to cut away all the pretense, all the clutter, all the dead branches from your existence and make you fully alive, and fully capable of fullfilling His mission for you. Fully free! Freedom is a process. Freedom is the ability to live life as the person you were created and redeemed to be. And it’s going to hurt some in order for you to get there. That’s what I see in Hebrews 4:12.
Theology in the 1st century Christian church was a work in progress. It was hammered out daily as believers met to share a meal and discuss their day. Take a minute and read Acts 2:42-46
They met together. They ate together. And they talked about God. Not just the dusty old books the rabbi used, but how to take His Son out into the world, how to live the life Jesus lived, how to make it real to everyone.
This tells me something – it tells me theology is developed and lived out in community. I’m not talking about making radical changes or starting a new religion, or doing something stupid. What I’m saying is, since forever ago, Jesus has been present in the company of 2 or 3 believers, and when He is there, He moves in their lives, He impresses upon their hearts and minds to do certain, sometimes very specific things, to make personal changes, to reach out in a specific manner, to minister in a certain, specific way. The Word never changes. The only thing that changes is the packaging.
Remember the Jesus Freaks from the 1960s? The itinerant preachers from the old wild west? The slick evangelists with the polyester suits and patent leather shoes from the 70s? “Turn or burn!” they’d yell at us, night after night. 7 day revivals. Who remembers those? I don’t think the 1st century Christians saw any of that coming. They probably would have died right on the spot if they had gone to a Carmen concert.
And yet, even with all that, it’s still the same message. What we have to do, in community, is determine how we will practise theology. How we will present the message of the life, death, burial, resurrection, and imminent return of the living Word of God to the people who need to know Him – to those who need to experience freedom.
What I’m saying is, theology is alive. It’s active. It has real power because it’s a real person and that person, the embodiment of theology, is Jesus Christ. Let that power loose, and run for the hills folks. Because when He shows up, stuff happens. Lives change. And very often it’s a very messy thing, because it’s about killing off the old and bringing the new to life.
When I give Christ access to my life, He changes me, people see it, they want what I’ve got and I give it to them. That’s the practise of theology. That’s the end result. Anything else is not Christian theology, because it doesn’t start with Christ.
Theology – verb – how you live out your faith. It’s practise is developed in community with like minded believers who are struggling with the very same thing you are – how to be completely free – the kind of free God dreamed up in the beginning. And together, you make it real. Now doesn’t that take a load off?