Part One may be read HERE
Every year there is a small forty-one page book that I read. If my memory serves me I was first introduced to this book by Jim Martin or Stephen Broyles while in college. The book is called, A Little Exercise for Young Theologians by Helmut Thielicke. It is a treasure. Theology has to do with life and Christians stand at the intersection of life and God’s message for the world … thus my contention that all Christians are theologians. The only question is are we good ones or bad ones. The question is not “theology” or “no theology.” The question is how do we become good theologians? Another great theologian, Martin Luther, insisted there are three things necessary for becoming theologians: Oratio, Meditatio, and Tentatio.
Near the end of his life Luther’s works were brought together in a single collection and he was asked to write a Preface. Luther was reluctant to comply but eventually did. In this Preface he meditates on Psalm 119 as the foundation of becoming a good theologian. Prayer, Luther says, is the beginning of all good theology. The Psalmist says repeatedly “teach me,” “Lord instruct me,” “lead me,” or “show me.” In prayer we humbly, yet presumptuously, seek the unleashing of the Holy Spirit to enlighten the eyes of our heart so we can “know” God.
Luther sees meditation within the context of lectio divina. We meditate on the words of Scripture not simply in our mind or heart but by softly verbalizing them.
In some ways this was the most important to Luther. It is in conflict or the temptation to self-sufficiency that our prayers and meditations become flesh and blood. Hosea could talk of the love of God but it was not until Yahweh told him to love Gomer as she was in the arms of another man that he finally knew the depth of God’s covenant love. Conflict comes when the word takes root for it is then we become an enemy of the principalities and powers of this age.
Prayer, Meditation, and Conflict form the bedrock for becoming theologians. Theologians not only know words about God but know God as Hosea used the word. May God raise up more theologians in his church.