Jesus Needs New PR

Jesus Needs New PR


CONFESSION: My trouble with ‘studying God’

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.

Peace.

Humility.

Mercy.

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.



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Comments read comments(15)
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Jason

posted April 1, 2010 at 2:39 pm


Interesting perspective, man.



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Danny Bixby

posted April 1, 2010 at 2:41 pm


Well said



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Kyle Reed

posted April 1, 2010 at 2:48 pm


Reminds me of what Piper was talking about last night and the dangers of young Calvinist…they love theology more then God.



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Paul

posted April 1, 2010 at 3:10 pm


One the money! I might I, we should study God to get to know God (not that that will ever happen completely). Any other motivation is some how tainted. He’s about relationship, first and foremost. Thanks for your thoughts my friend.



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Paul

posted April 1, 2010 at 3:12 pm


Actually, I meant to say “On the money.” Because if we are talking about money I probably need more than “one”:).



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offgrid

posted April 1, 2010 at 3:37 pm


Good article. However, in order to really understand what Jesus was teaching, “study” is pretty important. For example very many Christians forget that Jesus said to Love your enemies, turn the other cheek, Love your neighbor as yourself. If more Christians studied then practiced these words there would be a lot less War in the world. And a whol lot more Love.

1. Study Love.
2. Practice Love.



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Julia

posted April 1, 2010 at 4:06 pm


I love this post. Thank you for it.



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Rob Rynders

posted April 1, 2010 at 4:28 pm


Being a minister on a college campus I have run across a lot of other ministers, Christian groups, and students lately who are asking the question “what is truth.” They don’t really have any interest in having a dialogue around what “truth” is or isn’t just that you agree with their “truth” by the end of the conversation. I agree, I’m ready for us to stop using Jesus to prove our already decided values and assumptions and to have study and conversation without a preconceived agenda other than how Jesus calls us to help heal a hurting world.



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stephanie

posted April 1, 2010 at 5:11 pm


was just thinking about this today. knowledge puffs up, but are we not still called to love the lord with all our heart, soul, strength and mind? oh, the tenion.



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@nicolewick

posted April 1, 2010 at 6:04 pm


This is why I love you so. Great post my friend.



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belle

posted April 1, 2010 at 7:28 pm


that’s a good word.



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Carole

posted April 1, 2010 at 7:44 pm


Good post Matt, it is so you—–deep and thought provoking with a little bit of BS. loved it



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Nate Nims

posted April 1, 2010 at 10:21 pm


Theology is not (always) the study of God. It’s not us talking about God, it’s us talking about talking about God. And I love theology, I love arguing theology, but I rarely feel Christ like when I argue with friends that I know don’t agree with me on certain theological or ethical issues.

It’s hard, because we all have theologies and can articulate them when we need to and selectively quote the bible when we feel that we have to really beat each other up by proving the legitimacy of our perspective.

What we need to learn to do is disagree peacefully. We need to learn how to stop wondering how grace is imparted to us and start being grace, peace and love.



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Cece

posted April 3, 2010 at 12:11 am


I agree. I have listened to Ravi Zacharias for years and am amazed at how he can get his point accross with grace and honor. If you go to http://www.rzim.com, click on his archives and find some of his debates on secular college campuses. He approaches his debates with a lot of love and honor. it blows me away. He is very educated, highly intelligent, yet extremely humble and gracious.



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forex robot

posted April 3, 2010 at 10:16 pm


What a great resource!



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