In a previous post I mentioned that I took Sociology 101 at the OSU Delaware campus this summer. I enjoyed the learning environment and certainly liked being the minority racially and religiously. I even liked the subject of the course, but there was something about it that really bothered me. We addressed many significant social issues in class, such as poverty, discrimination, gender inequality, and social stratification. We analyzed them and approached them from as many different perspectives as we could think of. The thing was, we spent so much time on the problems that we never examined possible solutions. We were so concerned with the research of the issues that we never even considered that we might be able to do something about them.
Right now I'm taking a theology class, and I've immediately noticed the same pattern. So often I think that this same attitude carries over to theology. In fact, many times the first image that pops into my mind when I think about the subject is a whole bunch of people sitting around an oval table discussing insignificant details while other people right out their large windows are peering in at them, desperate for their help.
Of course, theology is essential to our Christian faith. Without a working belief system our faith would just fall apart. Still, theology can be a dangerous diversion from our real mission. In class, my prof mentioned angelologers. That's right- people who have devoted their entire lives to the sole purpose of studying angels. Angels.I don't think that even Jesus Himself would find that an imperative subject. Angels don't save people from their sins. They don't change people either. I think you can devote yourself to something (Someone) so much higher than that.
What exactly is theology good for? Sitting in class, I can't help but to perpetually wonder this. Here's my conclusion: theology's purpose is to prompt us to action. Theology is something that equips us in our ministry. Without implementation, it is merely what James calls "faith without works."
I think this concept is best exemplified by the early apostles. Acts 4:32 says that they were all "one in heart and mind." This isn't to say that they agreed theologically. I'm sure they had frequent theological discussions and debates. But, instead of spending ALL their time discussing the personhood of Jesus or eschatological subjects they united and acted within the community. They went out and affected people's lives with their already implaced theology.
Only when theology is acted upon can it transmit a vision of reality.