Theology is an amazing term in today’s world. I have heard countless negative responses, even volatile reactionsto the term. Theology is simply the study of God. Many reply they hate (yes, hate) the term because it is too close to controlling, systematic, organized religion. “Hey man, Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship!” is the most popular proclamation. I claim Christianity is a both/and concept to that matter, instead of the either/or concept often proclaimed. Modern believers end up clinging to a more organized, controlled theology as opposed to the one they claim to despise. Let me explain with the following.
I enjoy the Duck Dynasty TV show. You can often see Phil and the boys kill an animal, reptile, bird or fish, then dress the kill, and later eat the formally wild animal. One of the funniest episodes was Phil dressing a duck in an eighth grade classroom for career day. The act is viewed as barbaric, archaic, and even useless in our postmodern culture. I can somewhat relate to the potential uselessness of such behavior. I am not an outdoorsman by any means. I have never hunted and seldom fish. I find recreation by other means and am surrounded by grocery stores for food. But it is that mentality of convenience that pervades our culture that the series exposes and is refreshing to see; especially giving thanks to God for the provisions. Today, we would rather go to a store and buy our food that has already been dressed, cut, and properly proportioned. We are given the item to go home to season, cook, and eat ourselves. However, that seems to be even too much for some of us or for many occasions. We actually find more convenience in going somewhere to buy food that has been cooked for us; the only thing left to do is simply eat. Especially if the chef has been on TV or in some blog article we read. We rarely concern ourselves with where the food came from, was it properly processed, what was the process; we just consume.
I think the real problem people have with the term theology and the definition is the study part. Christians today do not want to study. Many want their Christianity to be convenient. Today’s Christian, mostly does not want to know how a message was put together, the cultural context the Biblical writer had, or how it relates to God’s overall character. They just want to be told a message, how to think about it, and how to make it relevant to their life. And if we can do this with music we already listen to and in formats of technology that we enjoy then even better. The postmodern Christian fails to realize, this creates a more organized religious following than what they claim to want to get away from. Everyone thinks the same way that their rock star leader thinks. They fall completely into his theology, to the point of committing leaderolotry. People just show up and consume.
The postmodern Christian does not want or possibly even know how to open the Bible and perform deep research with accompanied valued resources. For the postmodern Christian and preacher, God’s message is subjective and left to be determined by each individual. This philosophy ignores the call for us to individually worship and believe the objective truth about God. God and His standards are the same to each of us, regardless if we ever realize that or not. Christianity is based on objective truths, thus religion. Christianity demands one to know Jesus personally, thus relationship. Christians need to learn to open the Bible, dress it, collect thoughts logically and theologically, and then feed on God’s provisions.
If Christianity is meant to be subjective, then it needs little to no study. We can make our version of Christianity as we see fit. However, if Christianity is objective as I proclaim it to be, then study is required of all Christians as disciples. If we use a self-centered and subjective Gospel we will continue to make disciples of ourselves. Christianity in America will be in stark decline in the next few generations with a subjective, postmodern Christianity. If we use the objective Gospel of Jesus we will create true disciples of Jesus. When all Christians use the objective Gospel, true revival will be a possibility.
“Since you have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, live in union with him. Keep your roots deep in him, build your lives on him, and become stronger in your faith, as you were taught. And be filled with thanksgiving. See to it, then, that no one enslaves you by means of the worthless deceit of human wisdom, which comes from the teachings handed down by human beings and from the ruling spirits of the universe, and not from Christ” (Col. 2:6-8, GNB).