I. Am no master at the quick reaction. I am however excellent at thinking over a scenario weeks later and coming to a conclusion of what would have been a good answer to a question.
How my work/life scenario is right now there are conversations constantly about theology. I work in a secular office, but virtually everyone is a believer, and many are elders and pastors. Countless times I’ve walked into my office and been stopped with “I was reading in the old testament today…” I go from this to discussing the worldview and character development in Krampus with the midget, to answering a theology question for 412teens.
So when I was at a party shortly before Christmas and I heard quite frustrated. This person was upset with their theology class and posed this question: “Why do we study theology?” I had come to respect this person so I pushed past my initial reaction (“Why do we breath?) and listened more. This person was frustrated because why spend all this time diving into pretrib/posttrib, Calvinism, limited atonement, free will vs predestination,etc, when there are people who don’t know the love of Christ *at all*. Shouldn’t we be focusing on people and not arguments that have literally been made for thousands of years?
He has a point.
This last year I’ve been doing a lot of reading outside of my niche of faith tradition and I see two extremes of the argument. There is the one side (which I would say falls under “seeker-sensitive”) which entirely focuses on boiling down the Gospel to it’s bare bones and blasting it out to as many people as possible. This side will reach people that would never step foot in a traditional church, but they can fall short when people do want to grow and learn in their faith. And there’s the other side, who will spend a month of Sundays on the first word in Romans. This can create a culture that is so focused on learning more and more that they can forget there is a world out there who has not even heard the good news. While they’re parsing Greek in Sunday school, there are those who are wondering if there is any hope at all.
So what do we do? It seems to be you can either be in a church community who is ready to reach everyone, even those who don’t quite fit in, in their community OR you can be in a church that wants to dig deep into Scriptures and find all the treasure that is there.
I repeat myself, so what do we do? I’m still working on figuring out that answer. In my life this has visualized in attending a community focused church while listening to podcasts of more traditional churches/self study. To swing back around to the original question: why study theology when there are lives who haven’t heard the good news? My answer is if we are basing our hope and salvation on something shouldn’t we learn as much as humanly possible about it? In Acts (17:11) the Bereans are praised for listening to teaching and then going back and making sure what Paul is teaching them is correct. I love this because they are praised for researching, and not just expected to receive teaching passively.
Study, learn, understand Scripture, but we cannot become so insulated that we forget to share what we know or that we forget at one time we were also searching for the truth.