I’ll move right to the conclusion. You and I, if we are followers of Christ, are called to be theologians. We, as Christians, have a tendency to assign this title only to a small sampling of our community, perhaps to pastors or scholars but this is wrong. To be a theologian has little to do with academic achievement or vocational calling. Rather, it has everything to do with processing all of our thoughts and actions through the filter of what we understand it to mean to be a Christian. To put this another way, our decision to speed a little on the way to work should be processed not only through the filter of civil law but through the notion of what it means to be a Christian who is disrespecting civil law and representing Christ as you do so. The witness you and I present to the world in the course of our daily lives reflects our understanding of the faith. We are not given the luxury to compartmentalize and separate life from life in Christ.
Theology is not some arcane art, to be grasped by a select few who have made the epic journey across the wild and unforgiving seas, fighting dragons as we go. Theology is the knowledge and understanding that you and I have of God. Theology is dual-faceted and it encompasses our doctrine and the resulting practice that comes from applying that doctrine. Doctrine can be generally defined as our beliefs about the nature of God and His actions, who we are as His created beings, and what He has done to restore our damaged relationship with Him. To the extent that we find our understanding in line with those of historic Christianity is the degree of our orthodoxy. The behaviors that result from this understanding are the external display to those around us of what our doctrine is. Orthopraxy defines our allegiance to our doctrine through the act of daily living. Say and do are not separated in theological reflection.
The tools of theological reflection are within the grasp of all Christians. We find our content in the sixty-six books of the Bible, the revealed word of God to and for His people. We bring to this content an assent to our personal biases and suppositions and are honest in admitting how they might tint our reflection. Finally, we bring our faith to bear on the whole of the endeavor. We believe in God who has revealed Himself to us in numerous and varied ways yet remains elusive. We have yet to be privileged to see Him face to face and so we trust. Here, we come full circle. Some have described theology as faith that is seeking understanding and this is is an excellent baseline definition. To understand what you believe and why you believe it and then apply this structure to your life, this is the task that you are called to Theologian. Godspeed.
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