I think Theology gets a bum rap. Maybe this is because I have a degree in Theology or maybe it’s because I’ve heard pastors ridicule theology as something cold and impractical. Now granted, I have read some pretty boring theologians, but that reflects more upon the theologian than it does Theology. Thomas Merton said, “A readable theologian is a dangerous thing.” I think I know what he meant. Unreadable theologians, those who, “never come down from their ivory towers”, who think in ways and use words that only another theologian would understand or appreciate, perpetuate this idea that somehow theology is something different than the life-giving truths and Spirit empowered doctrines in the Bible. Let us not forget that the word “theology” simply means the “study of God.” The funny thing is, that some who “pooh-pooh” theology, are themselves expressing a theology. For example, one might argue, you don’t need theology all you need is your Bible. But that statement itself reflects a theology…the inspiration of Scripture. And then of course, there are those who have been writing articles and publishing books that are telling us that people today, and especially the youth of today, are not interested in theology.
I recently read a short but interesting article in Outreach Magazine (January/February 2012), by Dan Kimbel. In case you don’t know, Dan is the senior pastor at Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz California, and is professor of Missional Leadership at George Fox University. I was surprised to hear Dan, who happens to be one of those “cutting edge” hip younger pastors (anyone under 50 is “younger” to me now) say, “More than 35% of our church is college students, so a recent message series felt a little risky. At a time when you often hear that emerging generations don’t want to hear about doctrine and theology, we designed a 14 week classical systematic theology series to teach to the entire church. Our topics included Christology, the study of God the son; bibliology, the study of the Bible; eschatology, the study of the end times, and angelology, the study of angels, demons and Satan.
Our Sunday attendance has grown, and lives are being affected. A college student e-mailed me that for her four non-Christian friends who’ve been coming are fascinated. One Sunday, we taught the doctrine of salvation, and defined words like “justification” and invited people to “pray a prayer” of salvation. Many responded and told me afterward that they put faith in Jesus.
Sometimes we can put so much emphasis on doctrine that emerging generations lose interest but at the same time, I sense a desire among them to learn truth and doctrine.”
Very interesting indeed. How are you teaching people doctrine? Are you teaching people doctrine? If Merton is correct, claiming that a readable theologian is a dangerous thing, how much more a preaching theologian? Theology, when preached dynamically, and applied practically, is a dangerous thing.
Find me on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter