God, the One we have been taught to trust and believe. We have been preached to for numerous years to ask in Jesus name, and you shall receive, be obedient, and God will bless you. November 8th for many believers in America were left wondering why their prayers were unanswered, but there some who believe God has answered their prayers.
Authors Grenz and Olson invite us to understand that “everyone needs Theology.” (Kindle, location 287) Many US voters today are trying to understand their faith in God. God ask us to seek Him first. When we do this, we learn and communicate with God through His written Word. The voter’s reaction lines up with the theories of Authors Stone and Duke. They said, “Deliberated theological reflection carries us forward when our embedded theology proves inadequate. Our embedded theology (faith seeking to understand) is only sufficient until a crisis, conversation, or controversy leads us to reflect again.”
The authors identified those seeking to know God as five levels, and I identify with the first four stages:
“Folk Theology – seeking God through feelings and results
Lay Theology – seeking God because of contradictions with their view and traditions
Ministerial Theology – seeking God using additional biblical tools
Professional Theology – reflection and professional preparation
Academic Theology – Seeking understandings for one’s self and not related to faith.” (Kindle, locations 205, 234, 252, 272)
I must admit when I was in seminary and was told to believe what these scholars presented as absolute knowledge of God, I was offended. How do I know if their interpretation is true? What trauma in their lives affected their view of God’s word? How do I know that what they presented for my reading and understanding was inspired by God? The authors want us to know that we too are theologians by our desire to understand God more, “Theology is not, as many wrongly suppose, a kind of esoteric knowledge possessed by a few superior intellectuals. It is simply faith seek understanding. And insofar as ordinary Christians seek answers to questions that naturally arise out of faith, they are already doing Christian theology.” (Kindle, location 175)
According to the authors, “Theological reflection should encourage one toward spirituality and discipleship.” (Kindle, location 413) The word discipleship reminded me of Bonhoeffer’s writing, The Cost of Discipleship. He addressed two styles of grace. “Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner.”  “Costly grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ, it cost a man his life, and it condemns sin.” Discipleship should lead one to learn more knowledge about God and to have an intimate personal relationship. As DMIN students, we are experiencing costly grace. God has chosen us and we have chosen to follow him. As theologians, we must seek the guidance, discernment, and wisdom of the Holy Spirit to discernment and understand God’s word. Authors Grenz and Olson points out that, “good theology moves beyond stating truths; it explores the significance of our beliefs or faith assertions for all of life.” (Kindle, location 399) Our weekly chats have stretched each one of us beyond what the author said but to our inner world to express how we are affected by their views.
The more we seek to know Him, the more intimate we are with God. The Bible says, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.”4
1 James O. Duke, and Howard W. Stone, How to Think Theologically, 3rd ed. (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2013), 20.
3 Ibid, 46.
4 Philippians 4:9, New International Version.
- The system keeps unformatting the footnote and bibliography entry.
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship. New York, NY: SCM Press Ltd., 1959.
Stone, Howard W. , James O. Duke. How to Think Theologically. 3rd ed. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2013.