So I’ll Jump on the (Theology) Bandwagon Too

February 28, 2006 at 9:24 pm (Theology and the Bible)

Well, everyone else seems to be talking about theology lately on their blogs, so I figured I’d put in my 2 cents.

First of all, I have to say up front that I love theology. I love reading other people’s opinions about theology, discussing theology with my friends, pushing the envelope on both accepted Christian theology and my own personal theology – this all thrills me. I have my own little theological constructs that I think are quite fun. I am constantly striving to understand theology, reform theology, and yes, critique theology.

It is not theology I have a problem with. To me, theology is merely an expression of my study and love for the word, and trying to understand God’s revelation. The Bible is a theology book, because it is all about God. But there seems to be some rumor going around that there are people throwing out theology altogether. Now that’s probably true, but at least from what I’ve read on my friend’s and aquaintances blogs, I am not under the impression that any of them wanted to just do away with it all, but I won’t speak for them.

No, I say it again: it is not theology itself that I have a problem with. It is what man does with their theology that I have a problem with: namely, turn it into absolute dogma that cannot be questioned. Now I know all the great theologians were/are about reforming theology, and understood that you can’t understand God. But, the problem is, the people in the pews don’t understand that. I am not concerned with great theologians, I am concerned for the average Christian, who is taught that what they have been taught (someone’s systematic theology) is the only way of thinking. There are too many things that are set in stone and not to be touched, too many doctrines that fall under the category of heresy, to the people in the pews. Is it wrong to have a set of beliefs, or even a set that all works together into a system? Of course not. But only as long as the understanding is always there that that system, those beliefs, are open to critique. The average Christian will give lip service to this, and because this is what their theology tells them to do. But should something new come up against a belief – heresy! If not heresy, then you are plain wrong, and that’s that. Why? Why can’t things be challanged? This is the thrill I get from studying God! He is so incomprehensible that there is always more to be learned, to be included to be changed, radically! Theology is fluid, and should be. Your average Christians, however, wants to fight against new/different theological ideas, not dialogue with them – and “new” could mean old or even ancient ideas from great theological scholars whose ideas have gone out of style, or are not accepted in a particular denomination.

I get nervous when people say that it’s my way or the highway. This is generally speaking what people are taught to do in church, some more than others, and only generally speaking of course, no offense meant to anyone. Even pastors believe this way. Professors. And even some of those theologians, though perhaps to a lesser extent. There is no room for disagreement with my theology. If something disagrees with my theology, even be it a Bible verse! well we must have interpreted it wrong. Or maybe your theology is wrong? No no no…never. The Bible is wrong, not my theology. What! Well, that is what we make it – we have to “fix” the Bible because it disagrees with preconceived notions of theology, rather than gently exploring how perhaps the theology needs to change. Then we end up with the filling in of holes, and trying to “explain away” problem passages. Taken down a path of narrow-mindedness, theology becomes a box, and God joins theology in the box.

It is the close-mindedness, the dogmaticness, that comes out of systematic theology, especially, that I dislike. Explore everything we can learn from the Bible about a topic? Absolutely! But for many people, theology becomes the starting point rather than the end point. The Bible is compared to existing theology, instead of the other way around.

So. There’s my problem, and there’s my rant.


1 Comment

  1. Art said,

    If you ever end up being a pastor, I’d join your church.
    Great post! Especially your point, “It is not theology itself that I have a problem with. It is what man does with their theology that I have a problem with: namely, turn it into absolute dogma that cannot be questioned.”
    Reform, reform, reform.

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