Welcome to the first official blog post of This Christian life! I, along with my fellow co-bloggers, am extremely excited about this blog and through our writing wish to have a positive contribution upon our audience. Although we may not always fill our reader’s theological satisfaction or interest we ask for your patience and hope to entertain, rouse and possibly inspire those who stumble upon our articulation of this Christian life.
Anyway, enough with the introductory lip service. In order to supplement the official kick-off for a theologically oriented blog, I believe some preliminary categorizing must be discussed in order to properly engage the over-arching purpose of our authorship. Our desire is to reach those who are mindful and curious of a divine presence, beyond ourselves, and how that presence has effected human life. As theologians, we believe the best way to intellectually engage this presence is through the active practice of theology. Furthermore, we also understand that theology in some sense dictates our behavior; what we believe essentially trickles down into the lives we strive to live and behavior we attempt to exhibit.
These preliminary theological discussions remind me of my early moments of studying theology on an academic plain. Our professor would begin his lecture by provoking the class in asking “Have you ever heard anyone say, ‘Don’t give me theology, just give me Jesus.’” Many of the students nodded in agreement, seemingly expecting the professor to continue his lecture by supporting his claim. On the contrary, he then advanced by describing how the statement is considerably contradictory and backwards. The point which he eventually made was that any comprehension or expression of God must include some sort of intellectual ascent (or descent in some cases) which is classified as “theology”.
For example, let’s take the figure who claims that ‘reason’ is hindering the faith of an individual which then is limiting God’s blessing upon them, or healing power, or a brand new shiny Corvette with really phat rims. Wherever one might stand on this issue is far from the point and cannot be addressed in the contents of this post. The point is, theology is the intellectual enterprise which brought that figure to a position in which such astonishing claims could have made. Somewhere in this person’s life an odd combination of reason and biblical literature influenced their understanding of metaphysics and combined to develop the proposition mentioned above.
After studying theology for only three years I have become sympathetic toward those who firmly hold the predisposition that theological study can be a hindrance to “true faith”; faith spurned from the heart and transformed by the mind. These, who hold their prejudices against theology may in fact be ignorant but are so honestly. I, along with others, have mistakenly abused theological practice through our own narcissism and intellectual pretention. Sincere remorse and a contrite spirit must be maintained by those abusers. Though, this has does not negate or supersede the entire inescapable human enterprise of thinking, or not thinking, about God.
Theological conversation and study can eventually affect the way in which we behave. For example, some may interpret certain points of the Biblical narrative in a manner which leads them to believe that God will, in the final day of history, destroy the entire world in order to create new one. These individuals may not consider caring for the earth and its environment because “God is just going to create a new one anyway.” This theological structure may eventually create a condition which orients them in such a way to ignore any sort of proactive mission to care for the earth or even begin to actively fight against those who do believe caring for the earth is important. On the other hand, one’s reflection of Scripture could cause an internal cognitive awareness that caring for the earth is important. The other individual may begin to believe that God does not desire to destroy the earth which he created, but desires to redeem it, and dwell on it for eternity. Because of their theological understanding this figure will begin to ardently care for the earth and strive to tend to its maintenance
I love early church history so I am going to pull a brief historical example in order to support my case. During the midst of the budding Christian church, discovering for itself on what theological grounds she stood upon, a number of theological heresies erupted. One such heresy was a belief that is now formally labeled Gnosticism. I do not expect most people to have any familiarity with the theological or philosophical construction of Gnosticism, but in a nut shell the Gnostics believed that flesh and physical matter were inherently evil, created by a malicious God. Because matter was considered evil the Gnostics fell into two categories; they either indulged into every whim of the flesh, because the spirit was not moved by the flesh, or they resisted every fleshly pleasure. Because of their theological scheme, which consisted of a strange blend of Christianity and Platonism, the Gnostics dramatically changed the way in which they lived and interacted with the early church community. This theological scheme was addressed by a number of Christian patriarchs and councils which then freed many from being bound by this heretical theological construct.
A portrait of Gnostic anthropology
All of this is simply to say that we believe theology is important because belief effects the way which we think and behave. Bad theology probably will mean, in some sense, bad behavior. Though you may not agree now, we ask you to keep checking back with us. Be open minded and let our posts allow you to either reconsider or further entrench yourself in your theological convictions. Above all, we ask you to join our journey in this Christian life.