Many Christians tend to avoid anything to do with theology like it was a plague. They acquaint theology with seminary, and seminary with “liberal” thinking and a watered-down faith. To some, theology is the enemy of faith – it comes to question, to challenge, to raise issues that should simply be accepted, because their pastor or someone like Benny Hinn said so. Like science, theology is seen as a mental activity, as opposed to one of the spirit. Things of the spirit are sacred, and other things – mental things – are profane. Bible study is of God, but when it crosses the line into theology, well…
I, on the other hand, love theology. I find theology exciting. For that matter, I enjoy science, too, but that’s a subject for another post. I really wish now that I had taken some seminary classes, or at least spent a little more time reading real theology, rather than most of the stuff found in Christian bookstores (although, some of that is also good). However, a word to the wise (or, rather, to the foolish): Theology can, indeed, challenge, threaten, completely irritate and possibly destroy your faith. That is, if your faith is in something other than God.
What I really wish is that I had a better grasp of theological history; that is, the way the Church’s thinking about God has evolved (oh, no, there’s that science word again) over the years. For it has, indeed, evolved. From the days of Acts to the present, the Church’s understanding of God has taken a number of turns; some good, some not so good. But through it all, I believe God continues to reveal Himself to those who seek him (and to a few who don’t), and the gates of Hell – and even theology – have not prevailed against the Church.
Today, if people know anything about theology at all, they may know a few names like Augustine, Luther & Calvin – and maybe a few of the early Church Fathers, such as Tertullian, Polycarp & Origen. Most, however, don’t have a clue as to what they believed. And, many would be horrified to find out. The truth is, many of those who were foundational in developing the early faith and belief system of the church had some rather odd beliefs that today would get them kicked out of some of our major denominations.
The history of the theology of the Church is shocking to our modern sensibilities, highly structured belief systems, and to our faith in those systems. But, it doesn’t do our faith any good to avoid reality.
As Abram learned about God by listening and obeying, the Church continued to grow in its knowledge of God as freshly revealed through Jesus and the Spirit, through many hundreds of years of study, thought, debate, missteps and successes. In spite of the apparent errors that permeated the Church from time to time, here we are.
Are we done learning? Heaven forbid. We may have advanced, or we may have rabbit-trailed, but God will continue to lead His Church and reveal Himself to her. It’s our turn, you see. To turn our back on theology is to tell God, “I know you well enough already.”
There’s another aspect of theology that I think scares people, and that is simply that it might challenge our own pet belief systems, or own personal virtual realities. But, that’s a topic for another post.