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Theology Vs. People September 23, 2010

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Christianity, Danny Jones, Fruits of the Spirit, The Church, theology.

I read a tweet this morning from my friend and High School Pastor of my church, Danny Jones (a good follow on Twitter by the way: @thedannyjones), in which he issued an interesting challenge to his followers. He said, “Here’s a challenge for everyone. Let’s try and value people like we value our theology this week.”

What struck me as interesting about this tweet is that Danny assumes, like a lot of people do, that theology doesn’t value people. That’s when I started wondering, “At what point did theology and people become enemies?”

I am passionate about theology. I am also passionate about people (though admittedly, I have an easier time dealing with theology than people due to my social awkwardness). But, I believe that the theologies that I adhere to help me to value people more. Somewhere along the way, it has gotten into our heads that theology is a divisive thing. I think Danny tweeted what he did, because he has seen, like I have, people get into loud, obnoxious arguments over differences in theology. The problem with that ,though, is with the theologians and not the theologies.

Theology is good. It needs to be taught in our churches, but it needs to be taught in a way that lifts people up and explained how it can be used in everyday life. This is the whole point of what is called, “Practical Theology.” The reason some people value their theologies more than people is because they haven’t been taught that theology is for people. I think most churches have strayed away from teaching good theology because they have seen how it can be abused, so they leave it for the seminaries and Christian universities to teach. That’s the main problem. As a graduate of a Christian university, I have seen firsthand that most of the professors in those settings, while brilliant, aren’t exactly the most loving Christians in the world. So, naturally, the students who learn theology from these people have a hard time communicating just how people-friendly theology can be.

Bottom line, good theology values people. If a certain theology doesn’t value people, it’s simply a bad theology and should be thrown out. But, just because some theologies don’t value people, or some theologians don’t understand how their theology values people, doesn’t mean that theology is bad. I value people because my theology values people.  I can’t value people without it.  Theology and people are not enemies. They are not at odds with each other. We can’t value one more than the other, because they are not mutually exclusive. Our theologies should always be something that help us live out a Christian lifestyle. If your particular theology doesn’t produce in you the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) towards people then you don’t have a Christian theology at all.

Let’s stop thinking of theology as a bad thing, and remember that it is a good thing designed to help us communicate who God is to other people.



1. Danny - September 23, 2010

Good post. Theology is causing (and has caused) huge division in Christianity. Anyone would agree with that. I don’t think good theology values people. I think good people value people.
I’m really frustrated with people putting so much energy and emphasis on their theology when I think everything can be summed up in, “love God love people” I’m frustrated that we have made Christianity into Stocastic Calculus when it is meant to be basic arithmetic.

thesociallyawkwardchristian - September 23, 2010

Danny- I couldn’t disagree more. What frustrates me is when people try to dumb down how complex God is. But, that doesn’t mean that theology is complicated. Trust me, it’s not. Why most people think it’s complicated is because they are too lazy to actually study it, so they oversimplify it because they don’t want to put thought into it. I don’t think theology has caused division in the Church at all, I think lazy people have because they misunderstand certain theologies because they don’t study enough. And let’s look at your “Love God, Love people” statement. That IS a theology right there. And it is an important one. I would even say that it is core. But, it is not all there is. And the more we learn about God (let’s not forget that theology means “study of God”) the more we can love Him, and the more we can love people. People put effort into their theology because it enables them to these things better.

You also say that “good theology doesn’t value people, good people value people.” Here’s my question: How in the world do we know what makes a good person w/o first having a good theology? We can’t because according to the Bible, a good person is one who demonstrates Godlike character. We cannot know what Godlike character is without knowing what God is like (once again, that’s the definition of theology).

2. Danny - September 24, 2010

No, the real problem is is that people are too wrapped up in their opinion OF God rather than being wrapped up IN God.

I don’t think theology is a bad thing. You know, perhaps more than anyone, that I study different theologies. BUT, my complaint is that theology sometimes becomes an idol in our lives. We are so proud of our opinion of God that we forget to acknowledge God and His basic principals in our own life.

My tweet was semi based off of a leader in the emergent movement (who will remain nameless) who has waved his theology from the highest mountains. He has wrote half a dozen books talking about his opinion of God, yet in the middle of this, he’s having an affair and destroying his family. He never took a break, he quietly got a divorce while writing another book on his opinion of God.

It’s painfully obvious and clear, he valued his opinion of God much more than the principals of God and the people of God.

I’m not anti-theology. I’m anti-stupid. It’s stupid to argue about silly things when real people are really dying and really going to hell. It’s much easier to meet at a coffeeshop and discuss if there really IS a hell instead of reaching out to someone who may go there. It’s much easier to talk about God than live for him. It’s much easier for me to point out what’s wrong instead of do what is right.

All this talk… pointless. A man’s opinion should never replace the heart of God. And Jesus said, “love God and love people” That’s my theology. It’s not because I’m lazy, it’s quite the opposite. I think it’s lazy when we sit around and read about what should be done instead of actually doing it.

thesociallyawkwardchristian - September 24, 2010

I understand what you’re saying. Your beef is with hypocrisy more than with theology. And you’ll find hypocrisy within everyone, in some form, in Christianity, theological or not. Real theology is always meant to be lived out and practiced. Which is why I’m talking about “Practical Theology” and not any other form of theology. If you don’t practice your theology all you are left with is knowledge without power. And that’s what we would call being a Pharisee. Jesus’s biggest problems with the Pharisees were not because they held bad theology, they actually had pretty good theology, his problem with them was that they didn’t practice it but wanted others to. The only thing that separated Jesus from the Pharisees was he practiced his theology.

So, again, I see what you are saying that your problem is with hypocrisy and not theology. On this point and I am in full agreement with you. I just want to make sure we understand that theology is not the bad guy, like we sometimes make it out to be. The bad guy is not practicing it aka hypocrisy.

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