When the word “theology” enters a conversation many Christians simply tune out. Perhaps the figure of an ivory tower hermit comes to mind or a person who has little interaction with the real world. Whatever the reason, it seems to be a fairly common opinion among some that the most irrelevant people in the world are theologians. This opinion is astonishing when we realize that some of the most intense "real world" folks have been incredible theologians. Some of the great ones include Moses, the author of Job, Huldah, Amos, Jesus, Paul, Augustine, Teresa of Avila, Argula von Grumbach, Alexander Campbell and Martin Luther King, Jr … these theologians, though not all equal, have left the world a better place.
Theologians, far from being irrelevant, are among the most relevant people to live. Theologians are folks who take the word of God and integrate it into the world and situation in which they live. Indeed I would submit that all Christians are called to be theologians. The theologian of the heart of God, Hosea, suggests that a great cancer eats away at the people of God when they do not have “knowledge” of Yahweh.
“There is no faithfulness, no love (hesed), no acknowledgement of God in the land” (Hosea 4.1b)
“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6.6)
A theologian, Hosea seems to be saying, is not simply a person who can offer up a sanitized list of “omni” words. Rather like Hosea himself a theologian is one whose encounter with God has been incredibly deep, frightfully intimate, and pathologically painful. Hosea clearly demonstrates that God wants something besides careful rituals and sacrifices … the theologian has come face to face with the One who unapologetically shatters the idols of our world. The theologian is one who knows that God is the beginning, God is the middle, and God is the end. Theologians know that God will put us through hell in order to give us the grace of his intimate presence … to experience him as Hosea should have experience Gomer.
Hosea was molded, shaped and transformed through his experience of God. He became a theologian. As such he became the incarnation of the heart of God to his time and to his people. He, quite literally, became the message of God to a people who knew about commands but knew nothing about the heart of God.
We too are called to be people who “know” God. We too are called to be theologians in our day. Do we so "know" God that we are the incarnation of his message to our world? We can no more escape our vocation to be theologians in our world than Hosea could escape his. The problem today is the same however as in 735 BCE. We have many with lists of facts and can recite doctrinal rules. But where are our theologians? Where are the people who have come to “know” God as Hosea did?
Perhaps our reason for casting theology aside is not that it is irrelevant but that it is so costly, so challenging, and so painful. But Hosea considered everything rubbish for the sake of knowhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifing and experiencing Yahweh. May we do the same ... our world desperately needs it.
Dear God grant me courage to come to know you and become your theologian in the world.Shalom,
On Becoming Theologians Part Two can be read HERE