What comes to mind when you think about “theology?” Philosophical discussions of divine mysteries? Studious dissertations about the character and qualities of God? Arguments over doctrine? Interest? Boredom? Or maybe you never think about theology and are about to click yourself away from this blog. I dare you to stay.
According to the popularly accepted doctrines of secularism, tolerance, and pluralism, one’s theology has no place in public policy or polite discussion. But before we swallow that spoonful of dogma, perhaps we ought to chew on it a bit.
The word “theology” comes from two Greek words: theos meaning God and logia which is a form of the word logos meaning word, discourse, or reason. Of course, “theology” has all kinds of other connotations and applications, but I’m not talking about things like religious systems or doctrines or scholarly programs. For purposes of this discussion, theology is simply what one believes about God.
And everyone believes something about God. Many people know him and believe him. Others know about him and reject him. Still others refuse to acknowledge his existence. I suppose there are some folks who simply don’t think about him at all.
What we believe about God determines the object of our worship, our devotion, the passion of our hearts. Christians are devoted to the triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jews and Muslims claim to worship the same Father, but do not recognize the Son. (A theological question to ponder: If the Son is the “image of the invisible God,” then do those who do not recognize the Son worship the same Father?) New Age religion, Hinduism and paganism are religious systems in which god is an impersonal or universal force in nature and in each of us. Buddhists do not believe in an actual god, but strive for enlightenment through an eightfold path toward an end goal of overcoming suffering. Atheists do not recognize any god, but they surely worship someone or something: themselves or science or money or even their staunch atheism.
The tricky thing is that a person can belong to one of the above religious systems and still live in devotion to something else all together, like an investment portfolio, the title on their office door or the trophies on their children’s shelves. A good way to identify one’s theology is to look at the driving force of his or her life.
I care about theology for several reasons. Honestly, I find it fascinating, but beyond that, I believe the passions of our lives arise from our theology. And, more personally, the more I know the God I worship, the more I love him.
What do you think about theology?