For many in the Christian Church, Theology is something that is reserved for pastors and seminary professors but not something of interest for your "average" Christian. As a matter of fact, you could describe many Christians as atheological, meaning they are actually against theology. You've probably heard the phrases before and maybe even uttered them yourself:
- "Doctrine Divides"
- "Cold, Dead, Orthodoxy"
- "Enough with the theology, just give me something practical that applies to my life"
Doctrine certainly does divide. Jesus himself acted in ways that led to division among families. In Matthew 10:35, Jesus said, "For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against his mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man's enemies will be the members of his own household." But that's not the Jesus we like to imagine is it? We prefer the long-haired, flowy, white-dress wearing Jesus who unites all people everywhere and floats around the world petting baby lambs. Make no mistake! The claims Jesus made during his life divided households and they still do today. One day Jesus will divide all of humanity based on Christology, their understanding and faith (or lack of faith) in his person and work (Matthew 25:31-34). Our culture has a tendency to elevate unity over truth, but a unity that isn't centered on truth is a false and fleeting unity.
The phrase ,"Cold, Dead, Orthodoxy" is really a misnomer. Theology brings life. True theology which focuses upon God and his attributes and how he has interacted to redeem lost humanity, does not lead to cold, dead hearts. It leads to hearts that are filled with worship and praise due to the greatness of our God. If a person's heart seems to be spiritually cold and dead, you can rest assured that isn't because they are focusing too much on theology, but rather too little.
Yet another argument is that theology isn't practical to our everyday life. I'm not sure where that idea comes from because every doctrine of theology I've ever wrestled through has had immense practical application to my own life. Just yesterday, I was working through question #5 from the New City Catechism and was struck by profound personal applications.
"Question: What else did God create? Answer: God created all things by his powerful word, and all his creation was very good; everything flourished under his loving rule."
It seems so elementary to say something like God created all things yet this doctrine of God as the creator of all things has significant implications for our lives. When I begin to think of the immensity of the universe which God has created, it led me to think of the greatness and power of God that he could create such a massively large universe with his spoken word. From there, I was incredibly humbled to think that a God so great would set forth a plan of redemption to restore me in a relationship with himself. Thoughts of his power and greatness helped put difficulties in my life in a proper perspective. All of a sudden, problems that seem great and insurmountable seem small and insignificant. God's powerful word that created the universe strengthens me with hope because he is powerful to work in my life by his word. Theology is clearly not disconnected from our practical, everyday lives but should greatly impact us personally. If your study of theology seems disconnected and leaves you feeling dead, then you're doing it wrong. So here is my humble plea to think slow, long, and hard about matters of theology and let it bring new life and vitality to your walk with Christ.