I needed to study theology.
This is something I have been getting my head around since graduating in July last year.
How so? Well because I’ve got a (probably misguided) opinion that sometimes descendant’s of the Reformation think they’re experts because they own a Bible and upon reading it are able to give anyone a rundown of indisputable information about God from “the word of God”.
This is compounded when you are a teenager, by the very fact that you are a teenager.
I was like this.
I thought I knew stuff.
I knew some things but really I had never understood anything.
Theology was important because through it I have been ceasing to think I’ve got my head around Christianity.
I no doubt still carry this baggage.
Theology lessened it (I hope).
It was in studying theology that I soon realised I had never really understood (or at times even heard of) ideas central to the Christian faith.
- The Kingdom of God
- Christus Victor
- New Heavens and New Earth
- Image of God
That’s just some of the terms I heard over 3 years. It was words like these that, from even a little bit of reading, began to expand, deconstruct and reconfigure my understanding of the person of Jesus and the life I live in His community.
- I didn’t know the Resurrection was important! Easter was always about crucifixion – I never really thought Jesus didn’t really need to come back to life.
- I didn’t know that the words ‘Kingdom of God’ should mean something. Jesus came to sort out personal sin problems I didn’t think reinstituting new world orders was his deal.
- I thought discipleship was a word that by default meant mentors and Starbucks. Why would I need a dynamic word to emphasise a life of following Jesus’ way?
- I never knew that Heaven isn’t the place Christians are to look forward to. Why would I need to think earth was important, I was told over and over again I was going to heaven when I die!?
I “knew” this stuff was true before theology.
Now I could never imagine thinking that I know something completely.
Now I am unable to approach the Christian life without thinking
- The Resurrection of Jesus is an event of such apocalyptic proportions that the world will never remain the same.
- Discipleship is central to the Christian faith. That a life of being a follower of Jesus means being called to mimic his life (and self-giving death) and reconsider all areas of my own as places open and needing to be changed into existing as they would exist in his own life and body.
- The Kingdom of God is imperative to understanding Christianity because it throws me into a community that from the most local, to the most global, place affects and expresses the will of God in peace, justice, love, hope and radical forgiveness, grace, mercy and service.
- The Earth is infinitely beautiful and worthwhile and will be made resoundingly and inexpressibly more breathtaking when God renews and restores both it and its idiot human caretakers when the New Heavens and the New Earth come to town.
This is why I needed theology.
I needed these concepts.
Not just to stop me thinking I knew everything but because through it I have realised I am part of something worth knowing.
Christianity has taken on a new quality for me because of these ideas.
It has inspired new avenues in my thinking.
New avenues that lead into deep mysteries that no one will ever get their head around.
This has allowed me to prioritize not understanding and begin to feel limits because none of this is straightforward.
Christianity is not simple.
It is appropriately huge and infinitely complex.
I cannot get my head around these ideas, and nor should I, yet I understand enough to say that this is good and I can and will follow a resurrected-disciple-making-and-Kingdom-of-God-bringing Jesus!
Theology also invited me to learn other disciplines and words
- Form Criticism
- Reformation history
All of these things were good and helpful in their own way too.
I needed all of this.
The expert I thought I was I now see as a cocky eejit.
I didn’t know a thing really.
Now I know that I know even less than I thought I knew.
Yet even with that admission comes the reality that the way I perceive and relate to faith has, due to theology and the ideas it introduced me to, developed considerably.
Theology has freed me onto a new (yet extremely old) paradigm and it is allowing me to explore things afresh.
The books and ideas and the ways I now approach the Bible with are opening new things up and challenging and adapting old thoughts. And this is exciting.
I have basically, because of theology been relearning how to speak, think and be Christian.
I didn’t know before. I don’t really know now. However, I am working it all out (and will be for a long, long time).
As such I want to share with you how I’ve been relearning to come at things.
Here are some topics to expect posts on
- Image of God
- Kingdom of God
- New Heavens/New Earth
- Doctrine as springs
- church as noun/brick or church as verb/body
Christianity is too big for anyone to say they’ve got it down. I sure as hell don’t but I love it and studying theology afforded me a place in which I could begin to appreciate and pursue the deep, mysterious and awe-inspiring truths of King Jesus.
And I really want to talk about it.