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

Theology 101

Written by: on October 11, 2013

After reading and reflection of this week’s book by Roger Olson and Stanley Grenz, Who needs theology? I was impressed by their definition of theology and their outline of the different levels of theology that a person can have. The author’s definition of theology, “seeking to understand with intellect what the heart-a person central core of character-already believes and to which it is committed” (Kindle Book Loc 88), is a very good definition.

Being a seminary trained theologian and working in a local church, I see that many don’t understand what theology is, and even if they do, they don’t know who is or is not a theologian.   The concept that every Christian is a theologian on some level is important. Many pastors do not teach the importance of theology and how it is intertwined with one’s faith.  Very rarely do you hear the term theology or doctrine preached or talked from the pulpit. It is not enough to teach good theology if people don’t even understand what theology is.  They need to understand this, as it is how they become grounded in their faith.   We need to instruct our congregations that you don’t need to be a pastor or have a Masters of Divinity degree to be a good theologian. Any Christian can be a theologian by reflecting and thinking about God – they need to ask questions and not blindly follow.   This can be good if they are provided with a solid theological education whether formally or informally.  Unfortunately, if they are not given a good foundation then they can build the wrong baseline for their beliefs.  The authors outlined five types of theological reflection or thinking. We can use these as a barometer for judging where an individual is at in their understanding and thinking of theology.  I see many Christians at my own church operate within the first two categories: folk and lay.

I disagree with the author’s statement: “Professional theologians may sometimes benefit from the study of academic theology, and they usually are required to study it to some extent to earn their degrees, yet the church and individual Christians struggling in the real world gain little from it.While academic theologians are extremely reflective, they may take this good thing too far-cutting reflection off from faith and seeking understanding for its own sake. At its worst, academic theology follows the motto “I will believe only what I can understand,” which is quite different from “faith seeking understanding.”

[1]  I believe that academic theology can be valuable to everyday Christians.  Without academic theologians, there wouldn’t be a depth or foundation to be built from.  The real world benefits greatly from academic theologian’s work, such as the Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed.  I do agree that academic theologians can take reflection of theology to extremes, but generally they give us a solid foundation from which Christians can better develop and understand theology.


[1] Stanley J. Grenz;Roger E. Olson. Who Needs Theology?: An Invitation to the Study of God (Kindle Locations 277-279). Kindle Edition.


About the Author

Richard Volzke

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