“Oh no,” you are saying, “what happened to the light content of this blog? Aerobics, spicy… and now suddenly, theology? Do you think I have all day?”
Before you get a headache and are driven to your couch for a nap, hear me out.
Words that end in -logy scare us. Let me test that theory…
Paleoanthropology! Epistemology! Bryology!
Are you freaking out? Don’t, you silly goose. These words all have simple meanings, despite their tongue-twister-like sounds. (They mean, in order: the study of human fossils, the study of belief, the study of mosses. Come on, didn’t you take… bryology… in high school?!)
My point is this: theology is a big word with a simple meaning. It is simply the study of God and the divine.
Why this word conjures up pictures of old men with bent heads in dusty libraries is understandable, to be sure. Martin Luther and John Calvin, from their pictures, don’t seem like the spirited snowmobiling-fishing-moviegoing-types. And theology so often has the connotation of boring, intellectual, and high-brow that many of us wonder why, frankly, we should care.
As a Christian college student, I was barely acquainted with theology – both Biblical theology (taught in the Bible and consistent throughout) and dogmatic theology (what the church believes and teaches) before I entered college. At my Christian middle school, we learned John Calvin’s TULIP acronym and studied the Reformation.
Otherwise, theology was my grandfather’s domain – the subject of his floor-to-ceiling library in his house in Oklahoma. Grandaddy was wise and well-versed in the language of the church fathers. To this day, I regret never understanding it enough to join in when he and my father discussed the books they were reading after dinner when my grandparents visited.
I became friendly with theology in class freshman year of college, and my initiation into the realms of theology was very gentle. Several classes warmed me up to the concept of theology as useful, as necessary, and as really, really intriguing. Then, suddenly, I found myself signing up to go to a theology conference with my school’s religion department on a whim.
College has exposed me to theological writings and helped me realize how important it they are for understanding my own faith. Just like anyone extensively researches the phone they want to buy, the job they are considering accepting, or the college they might attend, so Christians should treat their faith with the same diligence and responsibility. Not in a superior, I’m-smarter-than-you, I-know-more-about-Christianity-than-you way. But in a thoughtful, caring way that strengthens what you believe about God and leads you to live out those beliefs.
I have a long ways to go, mind you. But I have a reading list! So those are my thoughts on this deep and often negatively-connotated word. I hope you walk away feeling less afraid and more inclined to embrace it.
Just wanted to see if you’d jump. 🙂