The Feast of Theology
June 17, 2015 | by: Dave Maniquis | 3 Comments
Posted in: Theology
I’m always impressed by how much people know about a given trade or area of expertise in which they’ve diligently studied. And how they apply this acquired knowledge in practical and beneficial ways; whether it be at a job or career or some other endeavor. What’s most impressive is that if you ask them for advice about how to go about something in their specialized area of knowledge they will, for the most part, relish the notion of sharing their expertise. And you will undoubtedly trust their guidance because they have spoken, and perhaps demonstrated this knowledge, in a trustworthy manner. Their confidence oozes out of their acquired body of knowledge like hot tar bubbling up from a tar pit. I’ve seen this in one of my family members. He’s a master gourmet chef steeped in years of culinary experience and knows the restaurant business inside and out. He knows the art of combining just the right kind and amount of ingredients to bring out the fullness of flavor for any given dish. He has internalized his knowledge and it’s now, intuitive and instinctive, bringing savory satisfaction to the taste buds. Now, in the interest of unabashed disclosure, the extent of my culinary expertise is fried eggs. Fried eggs from organic, vegetable-feed chicken eggs; those “brown” more yellowy yoked eggs; from free-range and, therefore, smiling chickens. But, alas, just breakfast-style eggs (with a side of bacon, of course). Who do you think I would seek out if I was tasked with preparing a whole feast that required more than the mere cracking of a shell? Uh huh…
When you think about it, it’s the same with theology and who the theologian actually is: it’s you, me, all of us who assume the name of Christ as our identity. We testify to the truth of the Gospel when we respond to those who have questions about what it means, and to those who challenge its truth and value. And we have the wonderful resource that God himself has given us—his written Word. God wants you to become an expert in knowing his written Word, explaining his written Word and applying his written Word to your life. God has blessed his church by calling forth gifted and devoted scholars to train and equip Christ’s disciples in academic institutions. He has given his church Christian scholars who have, and continue, to do the hard work of delving into the fine details of biblical exegesis and biblical languages. And all this advances God’s Kingdom. But know this as well: you too are a theologian if you are in Christ Jesus and believe in his infallible written Word, authored by none other than God himself. We can’t know everything, no one does except God. Nevertheless, you have the authority to speak about the truth of the Gospel as well as anyone else in God’s Kingdom if you are so inclined to be an expert about “who you are.”
Restoration Church has begun a weekly posting of significant biblical or theological terms. Christ’s church continues to be a light to all people. Understanding theology and knowing that you’re a theologian is of utmost importance. Unfortunately, the word theology itself has often received a bad rap. For some it conjures up haughtiness, headiness, or impracticality. Well, I firmly believe it’s time to disabuse ourselves of the negative connotations that are sometimes associated with theology. That’s because, simply put, theology is the study of God. It derives from the word theos, which is Greek for God, and –ology, which is from the Greek word logos or “word.” In short, this means words about God, the study of God or the body of knowledge about God. Knowledge about can be found in God’s general revelation in nature for all mankind. For the Christian it’s also through special revelation—the Bible. It then becomes knowledge about and of God. The same way in which you know of a parent; a spouse; a true friend. It’s relational.
Many Christians who are genuinely faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ unfortunately entertain a misunderstanding about the purpose of theology. They do not see it in terms of their role as disciples of Christ for the advancement of his redemptive purposes in the world. Other religions certainly have their theologies. All of which conflict with Christian theology at certain touch points. The Gospel of Jesus Christ unashamedly claims the exclusive truth of reality. That reality is based upon an intimate, loving and redemptive relationship with a person—Jesus Christ. When you pursue theology, you pursue a more complete understanding about the object of your reasoning as well as of your affections--Jesus Christ. He invites us all into that gracious and intimate relationship through his written testimony like he did with the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27 NIV) The stupendous revelation about Jesus’ teaching is that he extends that “Bible study of Bible studies” by honoring us to continually be his students and spokespeople for the truth of the Bible: “…in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV)
By God’s grace, I figure I’m always going to be a Christian. I’ll always be proclaiming and discussing the truth of my faith in the Bible and the Person who makes me tick. So, I may as well do it right and to the best of my God-given ability. However, it entails putting the study and application of the Bible above other things in life. You have the same invitation because, by our definition, you are a theologian. You’re called out to speak and demonstrate your knowledge of God in a trustworthy manner. How cool is that? By all means avoid the culinary stuntedness of this writer. You don’t want to be stuck cooking bacon and eggs when you’ve been called forth to prepare and partake in a feast.
Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.