(Note: Please forgive the formatting. I am submitting via cell phone under a mango tree on top of a mountain! Greetings from Haiti!)
I was not looking forward to this next series of books. I much prefer reading about ethnography and practical application of any principle. Perhaps my conservative seminary background put a bad taste in my mouth for the simple word “theology.” As the authors alluded to in the opening chapters, it was not that I did not like theology, maybe I have been surrounded by those with bad theology. Over the last years, I flee any conversation involving the interpretation of scripture to instead focus on encouraging those around me to live out their faith through mission. This book, however, was a nice change and a slight kick in the pants! Who Needs Theology? Well, frankly, after reading this book, I do. We do. We all do!
After several simplistic, incomplete attempts, Roger Olson and Stanley Grenz give this definition of Christian Theology in Who Needs Theology?: “Christian theology is reflecting on and articulating the God-centered life and beliefs that Christians share as followers of Jesus Christ, and it is done in order that God may be glorified in all Christians are and do. Soli Deo gloria.” (Loc. 452) This is a definition I can follow. Faith is an everyday action of the foundation built and learned over time. Faith is a direct result of good theology. I came away wondering why I had not embrace theology with open arms sooner? Should not this concept and definition excite me?
I find great solace in music, and often I feel as though there is a soundtrack running in my head to propel me through the day. The author posed a great scenario in location 1474 — Instead of singing the same songs or hymns over and over, why not try reading the words? What do they mean? Why did the author choose those phrases? Do I believe what it says, or I am singing just to be singing? This is brought to my mind the first book we read about critical thinking… Ask questions. Do not be content with what you know. Unpack scripture. What is it saying to you? Who wrote it? Why did they write it? What were their circumstances? In essence, never be satisfied with a simple answer. I have to say, this completely goes against everything I have tried to accomplish in the last years of living a simple faith. I get it… “Love God, Love People, Serve Others” is a great life mission statement but, as this author theologian and others have begged, there must be more. Between this jewel, and the book on critical thinking, I am getting the message.
When we are to be still and know He is God, it is fundamental to know without a doubt why He is our provider, why He is our rock, why we can trust Him. Knowing and trusting are essential to see us through the rough and tough times. Many times over the last year, I almost expected my faith to crumble through the trials and transitions. However, something amazing kept happening. Every time I sank down, a reflection of Scripture or a recitation of a well-known prayer or encouragement from a faith family member would bring me back into the knowledge of God’s provision and protection. This life long learning of God has provided the solid ground upon which I stand. So maybe I do have a little theology… Most definitely, I need a little more.