I think there is a danger when Christians believe theology is something only designed for “the “professionals.” When we as believers conclude that theology is only for those in the academy whose job description requires the writing of books and the teaching of theology classes, we miss out on the true function of theology. Therefore, we need to adjust our thinking about what the task and purpose of theology really is.
We must understand that theology is for the church by the church. It is designed to be a community discipline. Theology is the responsibility of all who claim to follow Christ. It is not just the duty of an elite group. Though the task of theology can appear intimidating to some, the community of God must be aware of its necessity. As my theology professor wrote: Because [theology’s] primary objective is to make the Christian faith pertinent to each new generation, the task of reappropriating, restating, even refocusing the past so that it speaks ever again with a contemporary voice is absolutely necessary (p. 356).
Theology, therefore, needs to be as fresh as Sunday’s sermon. In order for this to happen, I think we need to be clear as to exactly what our theological task should be. Let me offer a few thoughts on this matter.
- We must realize that theology is nothing more than thinking and talking about God. So, let’s don’t overcomplicate it too much. True, theological thinking can be difficult and tedious at times, but nonetheless, it is still none other than reflecting upon who God is and what He has done.
- Theology is grounded in the word of God. The reflection we do concerning who God is and what He has done is based upon His revelation found in Scripture. We never move beyond God’s Word.
- Theology is not an isolated task. As has been stated above, it is for the community of God by the community of God. For one to do theology well, he or she must be in dialogue with others (I guess this means your Bible study group is actually doing theology). And the dialogue must include our contemporaries along with those who have gone before us. There must not be an aversion to the reading of old books.
- Theology is never to be divorced from real life. This means that theology pertains to how we live life in the here and now. It should result in greater worship and greater humility. It should cause us to love our neighbors more and to be a bit more patient with our husbands and wives.
- If you are a Christian, you are a theologian. Martin Luther wrote in his sermon on Psalm 5:17 that we are all called theologians, just as we are all called Christians.
Theology is not just about the mind, but also about the heart. Theology is not just about study, but also about obedience. Theology is not just for the classroom, but also for the living room. It is about loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31).