June 27, 2008

Theology for it's Own Sake

The term theology can be intimidating because it sounds so academic. But theology simply refers to the study of God, and so to do theology is to pursue knowledge of God. People of different religious backgrounds study theology, but the study itself does not guarantee that we will all end up in the same place, primarily because we do not all begin in the same place. The starting point for the Evangelicals is the Bible, God's special revelation to humankind.

The study of God, doing theology, has everything to do with ministry to women in the church. Our relationship with God, as we discuss so frequently in women's circles, begins from the point of the gospel preached and continues through our study of Scripture, our prayer life, and times of worship, both corporately and on our own. Our relationship with God is never something other or separate from learning more about who he is: his attributes, his activity in human history, and contemplation of the glorious reunion we will someday enjoy with him.

Engaging in the process of theological reflection often takes us into areas of thought that leave us with mystery, awe, and further contemplation. Grappling with concepts like the Trinity or what is termed the "order of decrees" we often answer questions only to find more unanswered questions. And sometimes you're left with, "well what does it really matter? What does it really mean to my life?"

I want to suggest to you that doing theology for the sake of the process is important and should not be avoided because it might not relate specifically to something going on in your life. Surely the Scriptures provide stories and principles and doctrines that are intended to, when attended to with appropriate hermeneutical rules, direct our daily living. And I would even argue that the most abstract theological ideas have practical relevance. But I also want to encourage you in that doing theology for it's own sake has value independent of our own personal needs and wants.

The Westminster Catechism declares that man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. When we delve into the Scriptures and recognize them as the primary means to learning more about our Lord and Savior, and desire for the sake of the relationship to know more about who he is, we bring honor and glory to him. Each thing we learn about God may not have a direct correlation to how we go about our daily living--at least it won't seem that way on the surface--but pursuing knowledge of our Redeemer without an attitude of "what's in it for me" brings you even closer to this real person we know to be our God. Theology for it's own sake is not about accumulating a wealth of knowledge for selfish reasons, because even that would cease to be theology for it's own sake.

No comments: