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Are you a theologian? Do you Know God?

Written by: on October 12, 2015

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

 

Are you a theologian? Do you Know God?

Introduction

If you ask someone,  what theology is today and possibly its necessity in individual lives, many would react negatively towards the word. As a matter of fact many will balk at it with negative remarks. The way we think about God defines the way we respond to the word, which is mainly the study about God. Virtually everyone knows about theology. They have some concepts about who God is. According to many theologians, the way we think about God affects the way we reason as well as the strength or the staunchness of our faith in Him. Theology is one contentious subject in many societies. Many would take a bible, read it aloud and tell you how saved they are. Still you will find a good number who have heard of God but have never taken any initiative to learn about Him. To them, God is at a distant and to some he is nonexistent, that is, He is an imagination of the people. A question always arises on who needs to know God. Many people claim they know Him. Ironically, even those who do not believe in God know about Him. How can you know God without believing in Him?

Summary

The book “Who needs theology” focuses on the main reason behind the fact that theology is a common factor in everyone. The two authors, Grenz and Olsen gives lucid elaboration on the fact that everyone is a theologian with the only difference is that different individuals have different levels of theology. They do this by listing and describing five different types of theology. They include lay theology, folk theology, professional theology, ministerial theology, and academic theology[1]. Through academic and ministerial theologies, it becomes easy for one to understand the biblical languages, use commentaries, as well as gain knowledge about the historical theology. The other section of the book talks about the necessary tools that can help one to practice theology in a successful manner. The tools include historical heritage of the church and the bible. Interpreting the bible in the context of the church doctrines aids enables people to learn what theology is. As stated in the introduction part, one must read about the bible to know God[2]. It is almost senseless talking about God with no knowledge of the scripture. The other tool used in the book is the though forms of contemporary culture. Through this, we are able to link various theological practices to the current cultural practices. Through the use of the three tools, it becomes easy for one to become a theologian. Becoming a theologian implies becoming a good critical thinker and decision maker when necessary.

Reflection

Many verses in the bible talk about the necessary steps in knowing God. 2 Timothy 3:16 addresses the importance of every scripture in the Bible and their roles in guiding the human understanding of God so as to live a good life. Psalms 119:72-126 talks about what is necessary for one to learn the word of God. How can someone who does not believe in God say that he or she knows God? How can someone who has never read the bible know about God? They only have theology. They only have shallow knowledge or assumption on the belief of God’s existence. They literally need to learn about theology.  Theological knowledge coupled with excellent critical thinking skills will enable us to understand God and His deeds in the world. Critical thinking is one way of understanding theology. For instance, when thinking and studying about the origin of humans, most Christians believe that we were created by God in His own image. Others believe in evolution theory. Evolutionists talk of life originating from a simple cell and finally evolution through various stages. A critical thinker would ask the source of the simple cell. This makes the creation theory the most credible theory. Nothing interests a theologian than learning about his or her origin. Knowing God and studying His great characters makes theology an interesting course. The book is perfect for those who would love to learn about God and His deeds as well as Christianity in general. It is also perfect in learning about the relationship between various cultural practices and the word of Christianity.

 

Bibliography

Stanley, Grenz& Roger, Olson. Who Needs Theology?: An Invitation to the Study of

God. New York, NY:InterVarsity Press, 2009.

[1]Stanley, Grenz& Roger, Olson. Who Needs Theology?: An Invitation to the Study of

           God. New York, NY: InterVarsity Press, 2009.

[2]Stanley, Grenz& Roger, Olson. Who Needs Theology?: An Invitation to the Study of

             God. New York, NY: InterVarsity Press, 2009.

About the Author

mm

Rose Anding

Rose Maria “Simmons McCarthy” Anding, a Visionary, Teacher,Evangelist, Biblical Counselor/ Chaplain and Author, of High Heels, Honey Lips, and White Powder. She is a widower, mother, stepmother, grandmother, great grandmother of Denver James, the greater joy of her life. She has lived in Chicago, Washington, DC, and North Carolina, and is now back on the forgiving soil of Mississippi.

10 responses to “Are you a theologian? Do you Know God?”

  1. Great post Rose. I love the quote: “They only have shallow knowledge or assumption on the belief of God’s existence. They literally need to learn about theology. Theological knowledge coupled with excellent critical thinking skills will enable us to understand God and His deeds in the world. Critical thinking is one way of understanding theology.”

    With that in mind, what are the critical thinking questions you ask when you engage the text? Can you give an example of how it has changed your view of God.

    Blessings friend.

    • mm Rose Anding says:

      Thanks Jason, since I am from the old school, first let me say theology is not obscure, abstract theories about the divine; but theology is the study of a personal God and how he relates to his creatures; but within the study of Christian theology there are subcategories such as: study of the Bible, God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, man, salvation, the church, future events.
      Since the word theology comes from two Greek words, theos (God) and logos (word). My critical thinking about theology is as the study of God which, of course, includes His attributes. . . my critical thoughts focus on His attributes and how He relates to his creatures; because when God saves us, he makes us new. This means new lives, desires, motivations, thinking, and action and learning, growing, and training should incorporate all of these. What our heart loves, our minds will ponder and our wills will pursue. Our theology shapes how we live. For example, the more we understand God’s grace toward us in Christ, the more we are freed and motivated to love God and others out of the abundant grace he’s shown us. Do we want to live better?
      The theology is very important because in it we can discover who and what God is and what He desires for us according to (1Cor. 1:9) Since critical thinking is thinking about your thinking while you’re thinking in order to make your thinking better. Those two things are crucial about: critical thinking is not just thinking, but thinking which entails self-improvement. Thanks ! Rose

  2. Claire Appiah says:

    Rose,
    Thank you for your very insightful post on theological thought. You make some references to the state or plight of persons who do not know God as He is portrayed in the Bible and do not understand Him. I can relate to those illustrations. For a good part of my life, my family was knowingly involved in a religion that was not Christian. We were folk theologians who believed in certain theological principles on blind faith in our quest for answers to life’s ultimate questions. Grenz and Olson note, “Folk theology is often intensely experiential and pragmatic” (27). Of course for us God was distant and we did not understand Him. Of course we did not read the Bible. Of course we did not exercise critical, reflective thinking. You are correct, at least for Christians, it does not make sense to talk about God with a persons who does not know Scripture.

    • mm Rose Anding says:

      Thanks Claire for mentioning Folk Theology, which brought to mind an article I once read.

      Asking Jesus into your heart:”Many people use this phrase to talk about how they were saved. Asking Jesus into one’s heart is the primary means by which people are told to convert to Christianity. However, this presents a few significant problems. First, nowhere in Scripture are we told to ask Jesus into our hearts. Second, this implies that salvation can be said and done with no further implications concerning trust and devotion. The Bible tells us we are to trust in Christ. This has implications of repentance and belief that the simple request for Jesus to live in our hearts does not carry.”
      I thought you may enjoye it. Thanks for Sharing! Rose

  3. Aaron Cole says:

    Rose,

    Great blog! I liked your observation about coupling critical thinking skills to the subject matter of theology. At the end of your blog you stated: “It is also perfect in learning about the relationship between various cultural practices and the word of Christianity.” what is a practical application or observation that you have, maybe from our Hong Kong trip?

    Blessings,
    Aaron

  4. mm Rose Anding says:

    Thanks Aaron, for asking the question.
    Just from an observation point of view of “The Hong Kong (Advance)” which gave us a perfect opportunity of learning from a direct level of understanding, by our experience with the people of Asian, their culture when we visited their outreach programs, and to some extend understood the effectiveness of the program; which had a variety of components to meet the varied needs of their people, which were serving addicts of all kinds, childcare, and senior citizens day care, and housing. This was an anchor for such a common ground, because we have similar program to meet the same kinds of needs. The finding shows in both cultures relate to the primary importance of serving and relationships.
    I had conversation with community and business leaders concerning the cultural context of business, the things that is often overlooked in any exchange activity, which is the fact that there is a need to find a common ground on the basis of which exchange – dialogue, discussion, sharing of experiences and ideas – is possible.
    We of the western world operator similar program, but there are well-known contrasts between Chinese and Western cultural values that shape management beliefs in important ways, but also evidence shows that the cross-cultural transfer of management processes in general is not always successful. But the one thing we can agree on, when we speak of the “Word of Christianity”, which sometime may conflict. However, whatever else we might disagree about; Christians are at least united in believing that Jesus has a unique significance. I hope this answers your question.

  5. Good post, Rose!

    You stated, “Many would take a bible, read it aloud and tell you how saved they are. Still you will find a good number who have heard of God but have never taken any initiative to learn about Him.” You made an interesting observation. Many know about God. Many Christians even know the basics of belief. However, how many of them know God? The Word of God is upheld, but it’s never questioned. How can we claim to know God unless we converse with Him? Theology is that conversation. It delves into our questions, doubts and beliefs, all the while, seeking truth. Grenz stated, “Theology, whether lay, ministerial or professional, always begins with some body of beliefs and focuses on them in a critical and constructive way, examining their validity and attempting to articulate them in an intelligible manner to contemporary culture” (Grenz, 53) Evangelism and discipleship must start with Christian theology. If we never grapple with the questions in our own mind, how can we hope to answer the questions of others?

  6. mm Rose Anding says:

    Thanks Colleen for sharing, Allow me to piggyback on your last statement.”Evangelism and discipleship must start with Christian theology” , yes In some ways, the best time to teach the basics christian theology is when a person first follows Christ or first joins the church-when he or she is most focused on a Christian commitment. Capitalize on that enthusiasm by teaching early the inerrancy and authority of the Bible. Show why the exclusivity of Christ is non-negotiable. Talk about the necessity of the death of Christ. Build the theological foundation early, and build it well. This has been a great subject to blog about!

  7. mm Garfield Harvey says:

    Rose,
    Great post…one of the things I like about your post is that you continue to reference that theology is not simply about God…but a personal God. It doesn’t matter how much we know about God, unless He comes personal, all we have is information. Can you imagine if we posted blogs and never communicated or see each other until graduation? It would be a weird graduation until we share a personal moment. Although London is months from now, I can go on record to say…Rose probably went shopping already. The personal moment in Hong Kong brought life to your persinality. Theology is great but it must be coupled with having a personal relationship with Ted person we’re theologizing. Insightful post…

    Garfield

    • mm Rose Anding says:

      Thanks Garfield, yes that was a great anaysis; but i am really not a shopper but a buyer from those who shops with me in mind(Lol) On the other hand, we know the Bible is our basis for understanding God, and there is such a large collection of truth related in hundreds of variations, it sometime appears that contradictions exist. However, they do not and it is in the “resolving” of these apparent contradiction that we are often brought to a fuller understanding of truth. But when we collect, compare and contrast Biblical Information on a given subject, we are doing theology.
      As an Example: Jesus did theology in Matthew, chapter 22, when the religious and political leaders of Jerusalem were trying to discredit Him. Jesus answer every question with such wisdom that they themselves are discredited. Thanks for sharing ! Have your self a merry Christmas Rose

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