DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

EVERYONE

Written by: on October 14, 2015

In one word, that’s the answer to the book title: Who Needs Theology? One could say “everyone” is the answer because the Bible teaches that humans are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26,27) therefore how can we help but to DO theology?

The authors, Stanley Grenze and Roger Olson, state “Our decision to write this book arose out of our shared desire to see a revival of sound theological interest and reflection among God’s people.” Their decision expresses their concern that, “Many Christians today not only are uninformed about basic theology but even seem hostile to it.” (Note: because I read this book on Kindle, siting exact page numbers isn’t possible.)

The authors quote Anselm who said that Christian Theology is, “Faith seeking understanding.” This definition places theology in the world of the intellect and in the realm of devotion. They also correctly understand “theology” from the word’s linguistic Greek origins of “theos” (God) and “logos” (word/study). Throughout the book the authors define and defend the practice of theology and present some of the tools and approaches to Theology.

A central concern for the authors is the trouble found in the extremes of (unreflective) folk theology and academic theology that may value personal understanding above faith, and where academic theologians seem more in love with their ideas about God than with God Himself. In the middle lies healthy ground for theological pursuit and reflection.

As I contemplate the question “Who Needs Theology?” my D. Min. answer is, “International Students need Theology.”

When we visited Skh Ming Hua Theological College in Hong Kong, Dr. Philip Wickerie spoke of the church in China being similar to the African church: a mile wide and an inch deep. Who Needs Theology provides the perspective that will help solve this ministry problem and provides part of the platform for my D. Min. project.

Chapter 2 says “Sensing this need [for lay people to minister through teaching etc.] many churches establish informal training centers to move reflective lay Christians toward semiprofessional ministerial theology.”

Calvary Chapel of Corvallis is such a church. They have established “Cornerstone School of Ministry,” which is a non-accredited one-to-two year school providing theological and ministry training.

I am working with church and school leaders to help fulfill their desire to expand this training in order to provide ministry training opportunities for international students living in Corvallis. For me this fulfills “Leadership and Global Perspectives:” leading Christians from other countries in becoming reflective Christians and leaders in Christian communities in their home countries.

Chapter four’s statement, “Christians have always held to something like the doctrine of the Trinity,” led me to theological reflection connected to a book by Michael Reeves called, Delighting in the Trinity.[1] He describes the Trinity as being Harmony. This led me, as a trained musician, to the following thoughts.

Consider a “triad,” a musical chord composed of three notes played simultaneously. (This bit of theology is richer if explained while playing the notes on a piano.) A chord is composed of three individual notes, heard as one sound. The three notes sound together; at the same moment. This is the nature of a chord, its essence: one sound composed of the richness of three parts blended together. Truly the whole is greater than the sum of its parts; the individual notes are present but are, in a sense, lost in the new color of the chord itself.

Each note in the triad has the same nature or essence. We hear a musical note because it is sound waves produced when a small hammer strikes a string in the piano. Those sound waves make contact with our ear drums, and we “hear.”

On a piano keyboard, the note ‘A’ which is just to the right of middle ‘C’ vibrates at 440 Hz (cycles per second). All notes vibrate but each different note, vibrates with different wave lengths, or at a unique pitch. So although every note has the same nature, each note is also unique because it vibrates at its own Hz.

God, as Trinity, exists eternally as a single Triad/Chord. This is His nature/His essence. To know the One, True, Triune God is to hear Him and experience Him as single Triad/Chord. Yes it is possible to hear the ‘C’ (the Father), the ‘E’ (the Son), and the ‘G’ (the Spirit) individually, but we must understand that God has eternally existed, as the simultaneous existence of three ‘notes’ which are the same in essence, and yet distinct.

When we hear God, we hear Triad/Chord/Harmony. He does not exist, or sound, other than as Triad. And yet, mysteriously, when Jesus was born one Note of the Chord sounded on the earth and enabled us to hear God in unprecedented ways. And when the ‘E’ returned to Heaven, the ‘C’ and the ‘E’ sent the ‘G’ so we would continue to hear the voice of God.

But – God has never for a moment ceased to be a Triad/Trinity.

Apply this understanding to Creation. We might associate the creative process with the Father (after all, fathers and mothers create). We read in Malachi 2:10, “Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us?”

But Scripture states in Genesis 1:2, “The earth was formless and void…and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” Also, Colossians 1:16 states regarding Jesus, “For by Him all things were created… all things have been created through Him and for Him.”

So different passages of Scripture itself reference ALL persons of the Trinity co-creating. God eternally lives and functions as a simultaneously sounding Three-in-One Chord. God spoke as a three-part chord, and the world was created.

Language fails to adequately communicate what this bit of theology has done for this theologian’s awe and worship of God.

Who Needs Theology? I do.

[1] Reeves, Michael. Delighting in the Trinity. Downers Grove: Inter Varsity Press, 2012

About the Author

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Marc Andresen

I have a B. A. in Music from San Diego State University and received an M. Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1977. July 1 2015 I retired after 38 years in pastoral ministry. The passion and calling that developed in the last 20 years is leadership training in cross-cultural contexts, as my wife and I have had many opportunities to teach in Eastern Europe and Africa. I have been married for 38 years and have two adult children, one daughter-in-law and a beautiful granddaughter. My hobbies are photography and British sports cars.

6 responses to “EVERYONE”

  1. Marc, good post. Your point about churches taking it upon themselves to train is an astute one. In my opinion, this is one way we solve the problem. My question to you is probably loaded, but I will ask it anyway. Do you think there is a correlation between the pulpit and a lack of theological reflection within the pews?

  2. mm Marc Andresen says:

    Jason I LOVE your question. In my opinion any preacher worth his/her salt should ask this question.

    I think the answer is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, what the people hear from the pulpit sets the tone. Does the preacher demonstrate quality theological reflection in the messages? Do the sermons stimulate and call for theological reflection?

    On the other hand, you can lead a horse to water, but… It is a shallow excuse for any Christian to say their life lacks theological reflection because the pulpit messages are shallow. God gave each of us a brain to use.

    I want to answer your question, “Yes and no.” BUT – we ARE leaders, so I must say that as pastors we carry the responsibility of stimulating theological reflection and setting an example.

    I’ll share one important but painful time personally. One day a few years ago two of my closest friends in the church made an appointment and came to see me. They told me they felt my preaching lately had lacked depth. I don’t know if they were right, and that period was a time following several really tough years (my mom and brother died, I had cancer, and we moved our church to a new denomination. I was emotionally exhausted.).

    Now I would have appreciated it if these brothers had stopped to think about that first, BUT I truly appreciated that they cared enough about the church to come and talk to me: far better that then they had just grumbled or left.

    It did spark me to renew my efforts to do good, thorough study in sermon prep.

  3. Thanks for the music lesson along with your great summary of the book. Explaining the trinity to children I usually go with the candle metaphor (wax, wick, flame=one candle). But I like the C E G now. Never heard that before.

    When your friends told you that your preaching lacked depth, did you take it to mean you weren’t preaching enough theology?

    • Marc Andresen says:

      Maybe my analysis of their analysis lacked depth and reflection.
      All I knew to do was to make sure I was doing thorough Bible study. I think I naturally process things theologically – but at the time I didn’t have the knowledge to analyze their comments theologically, but just to dig in to Bible study.

  4. Aaron Cole says:

    Marc,

    Good and through blog! As you apply the “who needs theology” to your dissertation, what are some practical thoughts behind applying this book to the need of the international church (African and Chines) that is a mile wide and an inch deep theologically?

    Aaron

  5. mm Marc Andresen says:

    Aaron,

    Good theology is based on the objective truth and data of Scripture: it flows out of Biblical truth. Based on several occasions (in Uganda and Liberia) of working with pastors, one of the problems I’ve encountered is the all-to-quick “this is what I think it means” approach to Bible study. Therefore part of the training task, moving leaders toward deeper theology, is to slow down that study process, teaching how to do good inductive observation of the Biblical text, so that the theologies we build have solid footing under them. When I have met with pastors I work hard to push them deeper into the text of Scripture so that before they leap to conclusions and flaking theological conclusions they have taken time and effort to rightly divide the Word of Truth.

    Most of my time with pastors has focused on the inductive study task. But this book (and your question) motivate me to have discussions with pastors that walk them into good theological discussions, like about the nature of God as Trinity.

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