In the summer of 2020, I led an online theology class for people in the church I pastor. I was blown away that over 1000 people engaged in the class, asked thoughtful questions, and walked through the material each week. We used a theological text book as our reading, and explored a different “ology” each week: Bibliology (study of the Bible), Christology (study of Christ), Soteriology (study of salvation), Pneumatology (study of the Spirit), and so on. There were four overarching comments I heard from people in our church after teaching them theology for eight weeks.
1. Theology impacts me every day.
Some have wrongly thought that our theology does not impact our daily lives. But theology simply means “thinking about God,” and our thinking about God impact everything about us. A.W. Tozer famously wrote, “the thing that we think when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
- Salvation accomplished for us in Christ impacts our striving and accomplishing.
- The triune God existing in community shapes our view of relationships.
- Jesus being fully God and fully human impacts our prayers.
- Christ emptying Himself to serve us motivates us to serve others.
- God as Father impacts our parenting.
- Work existing before the fall of humanity helps us see how our work can be holy.
- The Church being the family of God impacts how we engage in our church.
- The Spirit within us impacts our view of overcoming temptation and sin.
- And so on…
2. I have a better and deeper understanding of what I believe.
C.S. Lewis said, “If you do not listen to theology that will not mean you have no ideas about God, rather it will mean you have a lot of wrong ones.” We want the right thoughts about God. By studying theology, people see how all the different things they believe interact with one another. They see how the person of Jesus cannot be separated from the work of Jesus. How the work of Jesus impacts their salvation being secure. How their salvation being secure impacts their motivation for living. How their motivation for living is connected to Christ returning. And so on…
3. Thinking about God is richer in community.
Many have pointed out that theology must be done in community – that even our historical Christian creeds and confessions were formed in community. We are too frail and too limited in our understanding to come to theological conclusions on our own. And why would we want to? We can be encouraged and challenged by the work Christ is doing in others.
4. The reading was too much for “a normal person.”
I loved studying theology with people in our church. Based on the feedback I received, they loved it too. But the reading was too much for many. “Not enough hours in the day.” “Kept falling behind.” “Wish there was a shorter option.” Those were common comments. Based on that feedback, I am convinced need to make “the great ologies” more accessible to people in our churches.
The experience in summer of 2020 led to conversations with my good friend Ed Stetzer on how we can help people in our churches study theology in a more accessible way. Ed and I have been working on a Bible study for groups and churches that we will be releasing with the Rooted Network this fall. I am excited to share more in coming days!