The Deep Things
Yesterday I was in a meeting for Faith Mission Bible College. It was for faculty to meet each other and to prepare for the new year ahead. Honestly, it was a little overwhelming to think about teaching. Not only that, but to think about teaching while also still finishing my thesis. It can all be a little daunting. Nevertheless, I am committed for this first semester.
As I sat at the meeting thinking about teaching theology, I kept thinking about something a theologian said at a conference. We were sitting around after the days gatherings and he said, “People talk about theology being the ‘deep things,’ but I also tell them these are not deep things.” That comment has rattled around in my head for months. As I have reflected on it, I have realized more and more that it is true. In many ways theology is the gradual unfolding of what it means to sing, “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” It is a simple truth, but each other is jam packed with meaning.
On my way home, I started to read Ben Myer’s new book The Apostles’ Creed. He opens the book by saying: “The Christian faith is mysterious not because it is so complicated but because it is so simple.” The truth is that theological thinking and the job of the theologian is to unpack simple truths, yet we never advance past these simple truths. We dig into them more. We go, as Lewis said, further up and further in, but we never get passed by them.
The work I do for my thesis adds nothing to the theology found in the Bible. If I did not write my PhD thesis the theology found in the Bible would remain the same. The theology I teach the students at Faith Mission Bible College, will add nothing to theology found in the Bible. The theological heritage we have remains the same. However, while the work does not add anything to the simple truth “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so,” better understanding of that truth or perhaps better said grasping the magnitude of that truth does change me.
As I study, and as I teach, what I find is that I am changed. I am changed because I get to know God better. As I learn more about God, I find that I am conformed more and more to the image of God. And here’s the thing, as I go deeper into the simple truths of Christianity, I find that I become more of who I was created to be. The first question of the Shorter Catechism becomes a part of who I am:
Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
As I grow to know God not only do I glorify him more, but I enjoy him. He makes me happy. In theology we do not study the deep things. In theology we study the simple truths of the faith. We go deeper and deeper into them, but we never leave them. We hold tight to these simple truths, never leaving them behind. Theology is the gradual unfolding of what it means to sing: “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.”