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

Theology, Allow Me To RE-Introduce Myself

Written by: on October 24, 2014

Theology, allow me to RE-introduce myself.

It feels like I’m being introduced to theology all over again.  I knew her once really well but life happened and we grew apart.  I am reflecting on the timeline leading up to and immediately following my completion of the MA in theology (remember, it’s practical!).  My program concluded concurrent with my stepping into a high-level district leadership role for my tribe that quickly became all-consuming.  Doing theology in a community of leaders from across the country had, prior to this job, been refreshing to my soul with immediate, practical (there’s that word again) application for our theological reflections always close at hand.  But it seemed that the moment I stepped behind the desk as the “Director of Missional Vitality” things became heavy, really heavy.  I no longer had time nor energy to engage in theological reflection.    There were much more pressing matters at hand.

There was real work to be done!  There were churches to be started and others to be closed.  “Time to cut the fat!  Prune to fruitfulness! Remove the dead weight and replace it with new, productive churches!” was the mantra, and I was just the man for the job.  Theology be damned.   I abandoned an old friend, traded her in for status.  I was unfaithful.

Theology had once been a place of thoughtfulness, a place where I and my friends could wrestle with deep issues like:

-How the heck is the work of atonement efficacious for those who lived pre-Christ?

-How could Abram’s obedience be accounted to him as righteousness when righteousness can only come through the death and resurrection of Christ?  Is there something to this whole “lamb slain before the foundations of the Earth” thing?

-Can we see and celebrate a creative God bending his own rules just enough to slide a loophole or two in so that pre-Christ people can find a way of escape without that whole, very thin Abraham’s Bosom argument?  (That one never was very satisfying to me…)  I mean, how exactly do justice and mercy intertwine?

In that wrestling we found comfort in knowing that no matter how much of this stuff we actually figured out, we really only succeeded in uncovering a whole new set of mysteries to be explored!  And we stood more in awe of God and his unfathomable ways.  So, I’m meeting my old friend again, hoping she will have me back.


“Jon, meet theology.  Theology, meet Jon.  I think you know each other already…”


I do know theology.  As the fogginess shrouding my remembrances begins to lift I recall that I loved the way sound theology brought creativity and wisdom to bear on how we remember our history and traditions; how we engage with God, the church and world; and how we think and cogently express those thoughts.1  I remember how she refused to be solved, but instead, would allow just enough of herself to be understood to make us understand that we required more.  Theology lovingly strong-armed us into a “willingness to admit that [we didn’t] know what [we didn’t] know [which] is as valuable as ascribing to what [we] believe [we] know.”2  As we embraced our weakness, we leaned into God’s strength.  Theology did that for us.

So, I am being re-introduced to theology and I sure am excited!  It’s kind of like when you go to the family reunion after several years and bump into that cousin that you think is really cool. (NOT the creepy one from the married-in side of the family that hugs just a little too long…) You remember how much you enjoyed spending time with her and you commit to exchange contact information so you can get together for coffee and see if there is room in your lives for each other.  I’m finding room for theology again.  Thankfully she is willing to forgive my unfaithfulness and allow me back in the fold.

1. Ford, David F. Theology: A Very Short Introduction. (2nd Ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), Kindle.  Loc 309.
2. Mary Pandiani, “Beware! Theology Without Wisdom is not Theology” DMINLGP.com, October 23, 2014, accessed October 23, 2014, http://blogs.georgefox.edu/dminlgp/beware-theology-without-wisdom-is-not-theology

About the Author

Jon Spellman

Jon is a husband, father, coach, author, missional-thinker, and most of all, a follower of Jesus.

10 responses to “Theology, Allow Me To RE-Introduce Myself”

  1. Nick Martineau says:

    Thanks Jon…Been praying for you this week. “Practical theology” is forced to play out when you have the kind of week you’ve had.

    I love reading your heart for theology. You are a great question asker and you share the tension of sitting with the Father in those questions well. It’s amazing how all the “doing” so easily distracts us from knowing the Father. That is a tension I cross all too often. Thanks for the reminder to be drawn back.

    • Jon Spellman says:

      Thanks Nick. Yes, the practical is being made clear for sure. It’s been tough but probably more because of my own inner pride and ego than any real tragedy. My “pain” is purely emotional. I haven’t lost a family member, I haven’t missed a meal, I haven’t suffered, I’ve just been insulted. God will open doors I’m sure. My friendships within the movement are deep and rich and will persist. I’m still Foursquare, just not employed by Foursquare. I can go back to serving Jesus now rather than serving an institution.



  2. Phillip Struckmeyer says:

    Jon, I like the thought of re-introdcution. I tend to swing the pendulum from the far right to the far left when attempting to learn and make adjustments. Thinking through a re-introduction is useful because it isn’t like we we have had bad theology entirely or no theology entirely, I think we are all as a class (and maybe this should be the goal of all Christ-followers) being called to a better or deeper or just more theology to journey with us in the lives and ministries we are leading. Praying for you in these days of some uncertainty and I am sure in great hindsight 🙂 you will see God’s perfect timing of this class/program in the midst of your transition.

    • Jon Spellman says:

      Phil, I am finding it interesting that the opening semester of a leadership degree is so focused on theological thinking. I would not have expected this before meeting Jason in person but as I get to know him as a leader, I see how central to his existence theology truly is. I’m all the more excited about the next two and a half years!

  3. Dave Young says:

    Jon, Thanks for sharing the ‘raw’ thoughts this week on FB. It made me mad, I hate it when things come off the rails and His servants seem like collateral damage. On the other hand, I recognize that your going to become more like Jesus thru this. Maybe your reintroduction to ‘theology’ is one of those small blessings Jesus is giving you to help you through the loss. I don’t know, but I’m sure you’re going hang tight to Him, and too your family. 🙂

  4. Jon Spellman says:

    Dave, thanks for your anger. I mean that. Next time we see each other I can share more stories that will make your blood boil about how some of my dearest friends and ministry colleagues have suffered much greater violence at the hands of the institutional machine than I have. I have been angry over their treatment about a half dozen times over the last year so it’s kind of nice to have someone voice some words of outrage over how I’ve been handled. Even if no one but us ever hears it, I appreciate it. Actually from the whole cohort… I appreciate it really.

    • Dawnel Volzke says:

      Jesus got angry at injustice, and so should we! Sometimes it is through healthy anger that we often get the courage to step up and be a change maker! We’ve seen the same thing in so many denominations, and been on the receiving end of the injustice ourselves…so this is a topic that I’m very sensitive to also. You are turning towards Christ and He will make your path clear… Your excitement is evident, your heart is in the right place, you are seeking His truth, and I know God will bless!

  5. Travis Biglow says:

    Im glad she has allowed you back from your unfaithfulness but its understandable I think we all come to that place in life Jon. I remember how I loved theology and how i could just quote with no problem the great doctrines of the bible. Yet life and religion has a way of creeping in and making you feel like “who needs theology?” Yet now i see its significance like i did before just with a more broader perspective!

    Be Blessed

  6. Mary Pandiani says:

    I can almost hear you singing what you wrote, Jon, as a ballad with that deep resonating country tone. It’s the kind of song that comes from the deep recesses of your soul. Perhaps in light of a difficult week, you were already in that darker place. As a result, what a gift you’ve given us in the midst of it all. These words: “I remember how she refused to be solved, but instead, would allow just enough of herself to be understood to make us understand that we required more,” make me think of a melodic dance where you are moving in a rhythm that hints of knowing that you were always made to dance. She draws you in, knowing your need for this kind of life. As God desires us, He welcomes the “re-introduction” that feeds your soul and sustains this journey.
    May God remind you of your anointing for the work you’ve been called to in the songs of your heart and soul.

  7. Brian Yost says:

    Jon, It’s great to see you guys getting back together. You make a good couple. What a great reminder of the partnership we have with theology. We need theology but theology also needs us. Without someone to walk aside her and make her real to others, she will remain the cute girl in the corner that everyone is afraid to talk to.

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