Reflecting upon the concept of God, theology springs to mind. The term ‘theology’ traces its roots back to ancient Greece, ‘theos’ denoting ‘God’ and ‘logia’ signifying ‘knowledge or scholarship’, or in this instance, ‘oracles and revelations’. However, it’s not as simple as studying an object for analysis; rather, it involves perceiving God as revealed. The notion of knowing God is decidedly more engaging than merely studying God.
A Universal Engagement
Theology isn’t an exclusive domain of priests, pastors, or university scholars. It’s an activity every individual, regardless of culture, religion, or social status, has engaged in at some point. Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Tribal Animists, Atheists alike, regardless of age or economic standing, have delved into theology.
But why is theology so widespread? The answer lies in its objective to address challenging questions, whether scientific, like “Why does it rain at the same time every year?” or “What are the lights in the sky?”, or philosophical and metaphysical, such as “Why do bad things happen to good people?” and “What happens after death?”
Faith as a Genesis of Theology
Often, our theology springs from our faith, rather than our faith stemming from our theology. Imagine grappling with a challenging life experience—a serious illness, job loss, or a widespread calamity. As you strive to make sense of it and find that common answers fail to satisfy, you might contemplate the possibility of a supernatural force at play. This faith, rather than intellectual reasoning or belief, sparks your initial exploration into theology.
The Rationale Behind Studying Theology
So, why delve into theology?
Firstly, since we’re naturally engaged in it, it’s sensible to understand it better.
Secondly, studying theology helps us to recognize our biases, both constructive and detrimental. Often, our theological understandings are inherited from our surrounding culture—family values, regional norms, social, and economic strata—and they remain unchallenged. Disturbingly, such theology can sometimes be misused to justify harmful behaviors. Recognizing such a scenario surely is beneficial, isn’t it?
Conversing about our faith with others also allows us to reflect upon our spiritual beliefs. Have you ever inquired if someone’s prayers have been answered? Have you asked if God communicates with them in dreams or if they’ve witnessed a verifiable miracle? Such frank discussions about theology can help us better comprehend God’s workings.
Theology: Every Christian’s Domain
If you’re the questioning kind, you’re not alone. In both Jewish and Christian traditions, theology is about questioning. The Mishnah and Talmud, significant texts in Judaism, comprise collections of questions, answers, and debates about God, scriptures, and life’s conduct. Much of the New Testament is dedicated to understanding God’s message through Christ’s life and daily miracles.
The Path to Authentic Theology
It’s time to question deeply. Have you relinquished your theological understanding to others? Are you neglecting God’s workings around you because of unexamined theology? While you don’t need immediate answers, it’s crucial to ask honestly.
Knowing God—practicing theology—is best done collectively. Engage a friend in these or similar theological questions and be prepared for potentially astonishing responses. Connecting with your local church also provides a natural platform for such discussions, offering a chance to witness God’s workings in the lives of responsive individuals.