Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Joy of Theology!

Written by: on October 11, 2013

In one of my favorite books The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer states:”The most important thought that a man will have is his thought of God.”[1]  He also goes on to say,  “The highest form of idolatry is thinking wrong thoughts about God.”[2]  I have come to believe these two statements to be true.  One’s answer to how we think about God is so vitally important to the success of one’s life.  Nothing is deadlier to a man’s existence than a false idea of how he views God, and even more how he thinks God views him.  I always like to look at the positive side of things and turn statements into encouraging words.  Taking these same words from Tozer and applying them positively I would say that “nothing is more powerfully energizing than when you have the correct thoughts about God.”

So one may ask, how do you gain the correct thoughts of God so as to keep yourself  both from idolatry and be powerfully energized at the same time?  My answer is, theology.  This week’s book Who Needs Theology? An Invitation to the Study of God by Stanley Grenz and Roger Olson is a great help in understanding why theology is needed by all people.  They define theology as the combination of two words: theos meaning God and logos meaning reason, wisdom or thought.[3]  So the word theology comes to mean “God-thought” or “reasoning about God.”[4]  When your mind is renewed in the word of God and you come to understand God in truth and clarity learning about how He really thinks about you, you will find yourself elevated to a greater life of peace and joy.  Jesus refers to this as abundant life.

The abundant life therefore comes only as one participates in “God-thought” or theology.    It is in this understanding that the discussion that Grenz and Olson bring out regarding the critical task of theology and the constructive task of theology are so very important.

The Critical task of theology is two fold, first it is to “examine beliefs and teachings about God, ourselves and the world in light of Christian sources, especially the primary norm of the biblical message.”[5]  If we come across a statement, whether hearing it in a sermon or reading it in a book, that causes that one eyebrow of suspicion to rise, then the critical task of theology comes into play.  It tethers us to the truth about God that has been held onto since the time of Christ and His earliest followers who faithfully defended the faith.   Secondly, the critical task of theology is to categorize valid Christian beliefs into levels of importance.  This is of great importance when we try to take the Gospel of Jesus to other countries with different cultures and customs.  What, in the plethora of theological concepts, does a new culture need to be distinctively and authentically Christian?   This is the second part of the critical task and so important to the work of world evangelization.

The second major task of theology is that of constructive.  This task sets forth “the unity and coherence of the biblical teaching about God, ourselves and the world in the context in which God calls us to be disciples.”[6]  In other words we take what God has said in His word and apply it to the contemporary culture we find ourselves in.  This is the part of theology that I enjoy the most.   I relish in the constructive task of theology, for it is through this process that we move for theoretical to practical application of the word of God.  We read the text, understand the historical context and implications, and then “construct” a contemporary application that helps in the current situation and context.

I love helping people understand what God has for them and to help them have the right thoughts about God.  Through the study and use of theology many can avoid the highest form of idolatry that Tozer says is thinking wrong thoughts about God.  May we all enjoy, practice, and advocate for more theological study.

[1] A.W. Tozer. The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1961), 3

[2] Ibid.

[3] Stanley J. Grenz and Roger E. Olson. Who Needs Theology? An Invitation to the Study of God (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 14.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Grenz and Olsen, 70

[6] Grenz and Olsen, 77

About the Author

Mitch Arbelaez

International Mission Mobilizers with Go To Nations Living and traveling the world from Jacksonville Florida

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