Theology for Life

As a pastor from a confessional denomination one of the more difficult tasks I regularly – even constantly – encounter is helping people past a distatse for doctrine. 

I understand why so many are so often hesitant to embrace any system of doctrine.  “Doctrine divides” is a commen lament. And, regretably, it is often an accurate one.  I see many who are at odds with others over secondary principles.  Another issue is that sometimes those who are the strongest proponents of sound theology carry rather “ugly” attitudes.  Looking at life, and the church, with a singular perspective (as opposed to tri-perspectival) some assume that mere apprehension and submission to a system of doctrine is the only thing that matters.  As one of my old pastors often said: “Their theology is dead right – but mostly dead.” 

Of course there are other reasons to be considered. 

The historical influence of the Second Great Awakening continues to infect large portions of the American church.  One of the most significant effects is that many Christians, and a number of church traditions, are flarly anti-intellectual.  Their faith is almost entirely “feelings” built aroud a few simple theological propositions.

And maybe the biggest hurdle is that developing a comprehensive understanding of a system of theology is, simply, hard work.  Like learning anything, it is challenging and takes time and study. 

Whatever the reasons for hesitancy, I maintain it is still important.  In this brief video Tim Keller affirms the benefits of sound doctrine. In fact he asserts, I believe correctly, that everyone already lives out their theology…

If this so, it would seem important to think it all through.

3 thoughts on “Theology for Life

  1. Good post. I agree that everyone lives out their theology. And, I think the choice to not be bothered with theology is actually a theological choice– one that says the ultimate questions and meaning (God?) of our existence actually aren’t that important.

    However, all of this said, ss someone who studies theology and religion, I often struggle with what it even means to “do” theology, indeed if it is even possible, as everything that we say is a human construction. Also, I wonder if theology and doctrine do not just involve the intellect and rationality (admittedly, how I usually treat it), but include our whole being. This would involve other ways of knowing and “doing” theology– theology would then become a combination of our actions, relationships, emotions, experiences, and more.

  2. Katye, Thanks for the thoughts. I agree, the choice to not bother with “theology” at all is an option, and one many Even then, though, it expresses more “theology” than suspected or probably intended. In a real sense, it says that the person forgoing study of theology of the God of Creation, YHWH, (or, for academic purposes, some other god) feels more important than God. Practically speaking, they view themselves as god, and all service is due them.

    As for living out theology, there are many ways in which the senses are included in Christian theology. For instance, the celebration of the Eucharist involves taste, touch, sight, smell, all interacting with faith informed by theology…

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