Continually Sharpening

A theological blog by Janelle Zeeb

Why Theology Matters

When I made the switch from engineering into theology, it was based on the question of what I felt I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing, and thus, what would be personally meaningful enough to re-train and start a new career for?

I already had some interest in theology, having attended churches my whole life, and from reading blogs and popular Christian books, and I became convinced that the most important thing that I could spend my time on was to make a contribution to teaching good Christian theology.

The term theology means "A religious belief system about God or ultimate reality".1 Theology may seem like an abstract niche area of study that is irrelevant to most people's day-to-day activities. However, since what we think about God (and thus, about how God relates to us and to the world) is a core part of a person's worldview and personal identity, then it becomes clear that everyone is a theologian in some way or another, for we all have some sort of ideas about this topic.

Therefore, good theology really matters, as what someone truly believes on this core issue will influence almost all aspects of their life.

It will influence how they spend their time and money, and affect how they treat themselves and others. We've seen how religious beliefs have life or death consequences, in those who feel called by their god to sacrifice their lives to harm many others. Theological debates can ruin friendships, split families, and cause massive schisms within Christianity which have had major historical consequences. And if the particularly exclusive claims made by Jesus are true, then what people believe about Jesus will have eternal consequences.

Doing theology well is critical, as incorrect theological ideas can cause severe harm to individuals, churches, denominations, and even to the future progression of Christian doctrine as a whole. While the Gospel is simple, it is also very easily distorted, and so the Church constantly needs people to think critically about the theological beliefs being accepted and repeated by pastors and laypeople as we preach, teach our children, and witness to the world.

The most significant factor in my personal spiritual growth has been to get my personal theological beliefs straightened out. I don't claim to have everything figured out, but I have made progress in making my Christian worldview more consistent and Biblical than it was before. The result has been a significant increase in peace, joy, assurance of salvation, less emotional turmoil or doubt, and more love and trust for God.

We can think of our individual Christian worldviews as a sort of personal raft that we each build piece-by-piece, as we assemble a collection of ideas about God and the world throughout our lives. This raft supports our faith in the midst of the stormy seas of life. There may be better and worse ways to construct such a raft, which will directly impact how easy it is to weather such storms with peace, or if we will be temporarily submerged by the waves and face struggle, turmoil, and doubts.

My goal is to try to build the most consistent, Biblical, and supportive Christian worldview that I can, and to teach others do the same. I want each of us to look at our own rafts that we've constructed, and see if there might be holes, or pieces that don't quite fit, parts that need to be rearranged, or even a few pieces that should be thrown out altogether.

This can be a scary process because while renovating our rafts it feels like things are less certain and more shaky. But as one who has done this several times by changing my views when a better view came along, I can say that over time my raft has become much stronger and more stable.

This is why I feel called to be a theologian, and hopefully, to teach and write about ideas that can make a difference in people's worldviews, relationships, and lives, both now and forever. I hope to pass on to others what I have learned in whatever way I can, to also help others enjoy the benefits of good theology that I have experienced.

Footnotes:

  • 1. Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki, and Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1999), 113.

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