>The focus of this post will be to examine the importance of our theology in our everyday life. Now that we know where to start with theology, perhaps we need to know why it is so important.

In my previous post, I discussed the starting point for theology. Theology – literally, the study of God – needs to begin with what we know about God. Most theologies begin by looking at the attributes of God on an infinite level – i.e., God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, etc. In other words, think of every good thing, take it to the “omni” and that is part of the nature of God. However, what I am going to suggest is that this is not the place to start, and I am not alone in this suggestion. A movement is beginning that suggests starting our theology with what we know of God as revealed by Jesus Christ, but I do not want to go too far down this road in this post. I want to go back to something maybe even a bit more basic – why do we need to study theology?

It is amazing to me when I look through the local bookstores in the religion sections at how much pure crap there is out there. It’s not limited to the bookstores either. I have spent quite a bit of time on Yahoo!Answers (Y!A), and that time is generally split into two sections – the questions located under “Baseball” and under “Religion & Spirituality.” Now perhaps Y!A is not the best place to spend my “free” time, but I find it facinating to read through some of the questions and answers in both of these sections. What strikes me most is the fact that though the topics are very different, the types of questions are the same.

There are typically three types of questions: 1) the questions that just really wants to state a particular position, but is not interested in dialogue, 2) the questions that actually are legitimate, and 3) the question from a person that is just trying to be obnoxious. The first type of question is usually really easy to spot. You see, when someones asks a question on the message board, it automatically puts a question mark in the headline. Often you will see a “question” that is not a grammatical question, or not really a question in the first place. Example: “Why do the Yankees suck?” That’s not a question befitting a forum such as Y!A. It is rhetorical, and the asker has no interest in what responders have to say. The second type of question is sadly rare. Occasionally there are honest people with honest questions and nobody to talk to about these issues, and they put it up on Y!A. Usually they are met with a mixture of responses – both rude and honest. The third type of question is the more common one. I remember a couple weeks back there was a guy posting questions beginning with ridiculous statements and ending with “what should I do?” It was mildly funny at times, but the guy was a total jerk – even to the point that he was mocking serious beliefs. So, what does this have to do with theology?

A forum such as Y!A is a good cross-section of today’s society. There are arrogant jerks, know-it-all’s, honest people, misinformed people, unintelligent people, good people, bad people, people that are just plain stupid. You name it, and they are there. This is the type of society that we are living in today. How do we live an authentic Christian faith in such a society? How can we possibly survive the snares that are set by enemies of Christianity if we do not know our basic theology? Some of the people that write anti-Christian statements on Y!A are just plain jerks that do not believe in religion and want to mock anyone who does, but some of them are people who have honestly searched and have been misguided in the questions that they are asking. In the real world (i.e. the world outside of the Y!A community), we have to deal with both types of people. Some simply need to be ignored because they are trying to do nothing but get people fired up. Others make false claims that need to be addressed appropriately. Some are simply misguided and need to be corrected with genuine Christian love and understanding.

So this bring me back to my original question – why do we need to study theology? We need to study theology because of the world in which we live. We live in a world that is against Christ, against Christians, and sometimes, quite frankly, against religion in general. When we are called to be Christians, we are not called to leave our brains at the door. A Christian is not intended to be some kind of mindless automaton droid that walks around saying, “Praise Jesus! Praise Jesus! Repent! Repent! Repent!” In fact, Jesus, when asked about the greatest commandment, says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Mt 22:37). Heart, soul and mind – the three major components of each person. The heart is our emotional side; the soul, our spiritual; the mind, our intellectual. In other words, Jesus is saying that we need to love God with our whole being.

Perhaps another key reason why we need to know our theology is because of the very nature of being a disciple. In the Greek, the word for “disciple” also means “pupil, student.” The disciples were learning from Jesus every step along the way. Jesus goes out of his way to explain things to the disciples. He uses general conversation for teaching moments. He does miraculous things, not for the “wow” factor, but to reveal something important about the character of God. We cannot be a disciple without some kind of understanding of what it means to be one. We cannot evangelize, share the good news of Christ, unless we actually understand it ourselves.
Is theology important? Yes! Does this mean that every person needs to know the intricacies of theological minutia? NO! There are some things that are better left for the theologians, but this does not mean that Christians do not need some kind of basic comprehension of what it means to be a Christian.

Just some musings from a traveling pilgrim.