Living Our Theology
Martin Luther once made a provocative statement: We are all called theologians, just as [we are] all [called] Christians. Luther's point is that everything we do speaks to what we believe about God. Our lives show forth who we think the God we worship is like. How do we know God? Does God care for us? Can God be trusted? Is God good? All of these questions are answered in the way we live. We are all called theologians just as we are all called Christians. There is no getting around it, we all do theology.
Our default mode in life is to construct a theology that reflects our lives and our values. We fashion a God in our image. Thus, what we think about politics or culture, family values or economics, the environment or education tend to become the things that God thinks. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that our theology should not touch on these things. What I am saying, is that too often we start with our position and fashion a theology that does not come into conflict with that preconceived stance.
The problem is that we see time and again (both in Scripture and in Church history) when people encounter the true God, their lives are changed. When we meet God, he confronts our presuppositions. The beliefs that we held dear, we learn must be jettisoned. We come against the truth that it is only in losing our life that we find life. God comes into our life and breaks down our idols. Our theology is reconstructed and it is radically different from what we would naturally want it to be. When we are brought face to face with the living God and our theology is changed, we begin to understand what it means to worship God in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23).
We are all called theologians, just as [we are] all [called] Christians. This calling changes how we think. It changes who we are. When we know who the true God is, we cannot help but be changed by that truth. Our theology becomes less a group of facts and more a virtue. It is more wisdom than knowledge. Alexander of Halles put it better when he said:
Theology is more a virtue than an art, more wisdom than factual knowledge. It consists more in virtue and efficacy than in contemplation and knowledge.