All of us who claim a faith are theologians. Yes, you, even you, are a theologian! Before I define the word theologian, we must understand the word theology. Theos, in Greek, basically means “God.” Logos, again in Greek, means “reason.” When you combine theos and logos together you have the word theology, or reasoning about God. Another example: biology (Bios is the word for life in Greek) is the study of life. If theology is reasoning about God, a theologian then is one who engages in the activity of theology. So, those of you who have questions, conversations, ideas, thoughts about God, then you are a theologian. Academic institutions do not the corner on the market of theologians because the only difference between you and a professor of theology is a paycheck and a little more academic coursework.
While all of us are theologians, not all of us are responsible theologians. I believe that part of living out the Christian faith is to do theology responsibly because not all ideas, questions, and thoughts about God are true. One of the greatest contributing factors to the state of crises and decline in American Christianity is bad theology. So, I have a few thoughts about how to do responsible theology. First, it is to read Scripture in the context of community. The biblical witness was not addressed to individuals but to the community of God’s people. From the beginning, the bible was read and interpreted in community. Second, a responsible theologian is one who reads the writings of the church fathers and mothers who have gone before us because we are not the first ones to have God thoughts, questions, and ideas. I am thinking of folks like St Augustine, Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, Martin Luther, John Calvin, St Athanasius. The wisdom of the past grounds our faith in the present. Finally, theology done well is theology rooted in humility, meaning that our knowledge of God is never final but always remaining open to reshaping and reforming as the spirit of Christ leads.
In conclusion, we are called to love God with our heart and soul, but also our minds! So, as St. Anselm has said, theology is nothing more than faith seeking understanding. As such, it is a gift of God almighty to be given the privilege to probe the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God (Romans 11:33). As we do so, our theology will lead us to doxology. Praise be to God forever and ever!
Rev. Will Wilson is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Kilgore. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.