According to Dictionary.com, the word “theology” means, the field of study and analysis that treats of God and of God’s attributes and relations to the universe; study of divine things or religious truth; divinity.
My friend Adam, a pastor in South Carolina, says that all of us are theologians on some level. And I suppose he has a point, since each of us is capable of engaging God and processing, believing, and/or developing theories about God’s relationship to the universe.
But sometimes my “being a theologian” gets me into trouble.
For me, the study of what I cannot see or test or ever fully know and understand has been a cumbersome journey. One would think (or hope) that, for those of us who engage God’s story through Jesus (and doing that in a variety of ways such as education and human understanding, prayer and meditation, belief and spiritual understanding, conversation and relationship, etc) that ultimately our paths would lead us to embrace the most basic of Jesus’s teachings.
And you know, during those occasions when I am studying God, sometimes engaging peace, humility, and mercy become possible. But that only happens when I’m actively in the process of studying God…
I have a confession…
Sometimes rather than “study” God, I take all of the same “studying methods” and focus them toward proving my own ideas about God or proclaiming my own ideas about God or bullying others with my own ideas about God…
I call that studying or being a theologian. But it’s different, because when I engage God with the intent of proving, proclaiming, and bullying, it means I enter the process with conclusions, predictions, and other personal hangups.
And doing that never leads me toward being peaceful or humble or merciful.
When my motives involve proving, proclaiming, and bullying, though they sometimes makes me “feel” spiritual, they lead me toward being self assured, judgmental, opinionated, argumentative, cocky, and “anonymous.”
And nothing like Jesus.
I’m learning that a true theologian is not one who studies God in hopes of finding conclusions, but one who studies God in hopes of encountering peace, humility, and mercy and serving others with peace, humility, and mercy.
And God knows, amongst all of today’s provers, proclaimers, and bullies who do little more than stifle God, we need true theologians.