by Amy Gannett
Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space.
“You are a theologian,” he spoke calmly into the silent classroom.
Something about the thin, round glasses hanging on the end of the professor’s nose and the bowtie neatly tucked beneath his white collar made him feel all the more believable, and made my eyes widen in surprise.
It was my first day of Bible school, and I was sitting in my very first class. While freshman year held a host of uncomfortable, nervous, and intimidating moments, this one will always be etched in my mind. His voice reverberated with age, experience, and authority, and his words struck my timid heart with surprise and self-doubt.
After letting us shift nervously in our seats for a few moments, my professor went on to explain what he meant. He told us that theology, for all the complexities we assign it, has a rather simple definition: the study of God. Or, put even more plainly, theology is what we know and believe about God.
“You already are a theologian,” he continued to insist, “... but are you a good one?”
My professor was right.
We are all theologians. Theology isn’t reserved for academic books, but can be found anywhere a human heart beats. Boiled down to its fundamental nature, theology is what we believe about God, and we all believe something about him.
For most of us, these beliefs have been formed by our families and churches, have developed over the course of our lifetimes, and have only been affirmed or disproven by our life circumstances. But no matter where our theology came from, the question that we must face is the same question my profession posed to my freshman theology class: is it any good?
It is imperative for us as Christians to stop relegating theology to seminaries and classrooms and embrace the reality that we are all theologians. Why?
Because the longer we neglect our status as theologians the longer we will neglect our responsibility to question our default view of God and instead seek one that aligns with the Word of God. As long as we think we don’t have a theology (or we’re content with an unexamined one), the longer we will let unbiblical views of God rule in our hearts and minds, and we will miss out on the joy of knowing the God who has revealed himself in Scripture (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
While we leave our theology unquestioned, we’re ultimately missing out — missing out on the gift of knowing God as he is, growing in articulating his character and nature gladly to others, reflecting his character more and more each day, and living into the reality of the Gospel in our everyday lives.
We cannot love someone we do not know, and the same is true of God.
In our spiritual lives, the way that love forms our behaviors and lives goes by another name: worship. Whatever holds the place of highest affection in our hearts is the object of our worship.
The whole of the Christian life is worship of God. To be a Christian is to put a stake in the ground in terms of our highest affections, letting the God of the Bible lay claim on our hearts and lives in such a way that everything we are and everything we do wraps around our worship of him. My theology matters because my knowledge of God directs my worship of him.
Worship isn’t only what happens on Sunday mornings. Worship is what happens when what we love shapes us; when we submit our character, choices, wills, and ways to God out of love and reverence for him. Worship is love for God that seeks to obey, honor, praise, and adore him; it is setting the eyes of our hearts on him in love and responsively lifting our faces toward him in awe and affection.
And because of this, it’s fundamental that we seek to know God because love grows in the fertile soil of that knowledge (or, theology). My studies in seminary were not about me training to be a “professional theologian”, but rather to be an equipper of a church full of theologians who want to know, love and worship God better. Where knowledge grows, there love can grow, too; where love flourishes, our worship will flourish in stride.
Amy Gannett (M.Div, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary) is a speaker, writer, and Bible teacher. Amy is also the founder of Tiny Theologians, which offers training tools for parents and children’s ministries, equipping them to pass on the Christian faith to the next generation. You can find her online at amygannett.com, and on social media at @amycategannett and @tinytheologians. Amy’s new book, Fix Your Eyes, is available now.