Skip to main content

Everybody's Doing It (Theology, That Is)

Few things mystify like telling others that you like theology. I mean, who does that? Theology can seem like one of the most abstract and irrelevant pursuits around. It conjures up visions of monks and philosophers doing calligraphy and asking stuffy questions like, “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” If words like aseity, supralapsarian and imputation mean little to you, well, they don't mean a whole lot to many other people either. But the fact is, however you talk about it, everyone is doing theology, including you.

So, let's just say that theology means the study of God. Perhaps you've never spent any sort of concerted or formal time studying theology, the fact is every day you are living out your beliefs concerning God. It could be saying, “God doesn't care if I (fill in the blank).” It could be the popular arguing point, “The God I believe in would never do that!” It might be the refrain of the prosperity movement, “God wants you to be able to pay your bills.” Whether formally or informally, somewhere along the line we all end up with our beliefs on God and we live those out everyday. The question then becomes, “Where did you get your beliefs?”

This question humbled me one particular day several years ago. In a discussion with a more mature believer, I voiced some claim about angels (my memory has mercifully blotted out the specific claim). Though he did not call me on it, as I reflected on the discussion I realized I had basically lifted that idea from the movie Dogma. It wasn't a result of any philosophical or biblical reflection, it was just some mental debris mined from the depths of a movie about renegade angels wreaking comedic havoc in the world. The other person graciously gave me some good counsel and let the issue run its course from there, perhaps realizing that my poor theology (well, I guess that's angelology, but let's not be sticklers here) would wither and go away on its own.

The scary thing is just how many such beliefs exist out there. Probably a vast majority of the country could quote “Thou shalt not judge” or “God is love” though they've never read the books those quotes are found in. Many people could resonate with “love your neighbor as yourself,” but few of those people realize just how high that standard is (and furthermore what we're supposed to do once we fall short of it). “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me” might be famous, but it's largely not believed. We find that large amounts of our spiritual beliefs are not actively pursued through reading or serious thinking, rather they are passively received from billboards (Got Jesus?), bumper stickers (God is too big to fit into one religion), television shows (Touched By An Angel) and movies (more than I feel like listing). And this is what we rest eternity upon.

Everybody is doing theology, but not a whole lot of people are doing it well. That's not to say, “Oooh, look at me and my perfect theology.” But the fact is, people base their lives on what they think about God. This is true for everyone from the unaccountable atheist to the ambiguous agnostic to the driven zealot, and a lot of these beliefs are as thoughtless as my Dogma moment. People generally don't vote for people they know nothing about. Nor do they work for companies they know nothing about. So why would anyone live life based on theology they know nothing about?


  1. Jason, thanks for your thoughtful and helpful posts. I look forward to reading more.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The New Trilemma

Beknownst to many, I dread the idea of going to a karaoke bar. Unbeknownst to many, I have regular covert karaoke sessions on my commute to work. I drive an SUV with no tint on the windows, which means I'm afforded about as much cover as a fishbowl. Moreover, I possess none of the externally obvious signs that would indicate that I deserve to be rocking out like it's nobody's business (e.g. I don't care what you think musician outfit, “cool” ethnicity, etc.). Therefore I must daily find a way to perform my latest hits without the hundreds of people I see in traffic noticing. So I improvise. At the stop light, if I pull up in between the two cars in the next lane over, neither of them can really tell what I'm doing. Rock on my friend. If I can't hit one of those sweet spots between cars, I might just do every other line ...wishin they was dancin a jig... ciga-cigar right from Cuba-Cu-ba ... They might think they saw something, do a double take, but loo

What's preaching worth?

In some areas of the world, Christians still risk their lives and/or possessions for their faith. They fear angry mobs who will burn their churches, vigilantes who will punish them for believing and authorities who will either aid the locals or persecute the Christians themselves. For these Christians, church is not a social function. Church is a risk to life and livelihood. For the preacher, he risks not just his own life but he also endangers those who come to listen. For this preacher, every sermon must be worth prison, every sermon must be worth provoking the wrath of this world. He must ask himself every time, "Is this worth my life? Is this worth my congregation's life?" Why should our sermons be any different? I fear no angry mob, does it mean my sermons can be cheap? I fear no persecution, so does that mean I can spend my time giving anecdotes instead of the word of God? Just being called to be heralds of the king should sober and embolden us on its own. But rec

What is social media doing to you?

Imagine this commercial: Our product will give you access to the most stressful, anxiety-inducing, anger-arousing events going on both near and far! You will know more than you ever wanted to know and be powerless to do anything about it! Sign up for free today so that we can stalk and monetize your online behavior! Who wants to sign up? Apparently 2.6 billion of us. This is the basic experience and business model of social media. Why do we do this? Humanity is an utter mystery sometimes. I’m not going to do some deep dive on how social media works, I want to do an ultra-practical exercise together. Let’s examine what social media is doing to us. Examining the Fruit How often are the following characteristics produced in your heart based on your use of social media? Answer each item with this simple scale: Rarely, Sometimes, Often Good Fruit Love Joy Peace Patience Kindness Goodness Faithfulness Gentleness Self-control Bad Fruit Now let’s do that again but with a second set of charact