September 10, 2006

An Argument for Studying Theology: Patricia Raybon, Today's Christian Woman

The feature article of the current issue of Today's Christian Woman is about the role that prayer plays in our lives. It's a good article on the topic, showing how prayer changes the pray-er, not necessarily the circumstances being prayed about.

Patricia Raybon is a wife and mother as well as a journalism professor at the University of Colorado. She also has 2 daughters, one of which is a convert to Islam. About her conversion, she says,

Her conversion to Islam has challenged, humbled, and even broken me. But God used it to help me admit I didn't know enough about him or my faith. When she left the church, we argued constantly about religion. In truth, I didn't know enough basic Christian theology to even argue for it. So I set out to learn. And the more I studied, the less I debated; the more I trusted, the more I loved. I don't have to arm wrestle my daughter back to Jesus. I love her-and let God handle the rest.

Thankfully, Raybon has moved ahead to the study of theology. I'm terribly sorry that it took her daughter's conversion to Islam to motivate her to do so. If she had been equipped to understand and defend her faith, was able to give a reason for the hope within her (1 Peter 3:15) it's possible things would have turned out differently. Raybon admits that she didn't know enough about her own beliefs to give an answer to her daughter.

In this same quote, Raybon undercuts herself - and perhaps the study of theology - by saying that the more she studied theology, the less she debated and the more she loved. "I don't have to arm wrestle my daughter back to Jesus." Perhaps this just means that because of the debating with her daughter at the time of her conversion to Islam she doesn't have the relationship that would allow for the discussion to continue. I wish the article was clearer about this, because it actually seems like she saying we shouldn't offer arguments for our faith and against opposing worldviews. On whether her daughter becomes a Christian, I agree with her that it's up to God. But this is not to the neglect of human involvement. God may choose to have Patricia be the instrument he uses to bring her to faith.

The point I'm making is that we need to be studying theology before there is a crisis, before there is a need. Women should study God as an act of worship, not as merely an activity to accumulate knowledge. In and of itself, without an opportunity for immediate application, studying theolgy - studying God - should be viewed as an act of worship. The application may be immediate, the application may come later...but the renewing of our mind is an ongoing process of sanctification.

Let's not wait til we need to know who God is or what our faith is about, the time is now.

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