Today (more than ever) Theology Matters

wpid-exclamation-mark.pngTheology matters.  I know, I know, just the word “theology” sounds boring, right?  It makes us think of bearded old men in libraries who obviously don’t have enough energy and zest to go live their faith so they sit around a table in outdated suits and vests just talking about it.  But let me shock you a bit – YOU are a theologian (at least to some degree).  Theology is simply the study of God and religious beliefs and how they develop and impact a person or people.  So we all “do” theology as we all have some view of God.  Even the devout atheist does theology as he has thought out the subject of God and religion and made belief choices based on his thoughts.  Those choices then affect his actions which then affect the beliefs/actions of those around him.  Theology matters.  Probably more today than in previous decades as the world is going through a lot of theology-based societal shifting these days, especially here in the West.  Below are a few intersting examples of some modern theology that made the news.  In my mind, they demonstrate how much theology can impact a person, family, city or even the world (the last one’s a big one).  Take a look:

Pentecostal Theology – Recently, a Pentecostal preacher died for his faith right here on U.S. soil.  No, he wasn’t martyred – he was bitten by a rattlesnake during a worship service.  Claiming that snake handling is a commandment from God, the pastor was living out his faith when a rattler bit him on the hand.  As medical treatment is also against his faith, he died shortly after the bite.  All of this was done in the name of Christian worship.  Why does a little-known pastor practicing extreme and highly questionable rituals matter in the greater religious landscape?  Because he was a human being, made in the image of God with friends and family.  And because this incident is just one piece of proof that theology matters.  It matters a lot.  The theology of individuals is a force that changes things.  Click HERE to read of the snake handling pastor’s death.

Muslim Theology – When Charlie Hebdo in France was attacked in the name of Allah, the attackers were labeled “extremists”.  But some random interviews in France are indicating that Muslim “moderates” support the attacks.  Why?  Because their belief system is a set of lenses through which they see the world.  The theology of Muslims make a profound impact around the world, and no, not just the “extreme” ones.  Why?  Because theology, all theology, matters!  In this case, eleven people died and an entire city has been affected while millions of others around the world watched and made adjustments to their own theology in one direction or another.  Theology matters.  What one thinks of God isn’t just a subject for those in the ivory towers of seminaries and universities to ponder and debate.  Click HERE to read of the Muslim support of the Charlie Hebdo attackers.

Ignored Theology – Theology matters even to those who say theology doesn’t matter. Recently in Paris an artist decided to make a plea for peace by painting the now-familiar “Coexist” image (the word made from the symbols of various faiths) on the side of a building.  Local Muslims objected to the painting on religious grounds (their theology mattered to them).  The artist refused to remove the painting so the Muslims brutally beat him. It would seem that the artist somehow thought peace could be brought about in a group that contained a theological prohibition of peace (prohibited by at least one of the faiths, and it only takes one).  In other words, part of the artist’s theology was to minimize the theology of others, and this had a sad consequence.  He isn’t the only one!  Theology ignored will one day have disastrous consequences on many people, whether in this life or the next.  Why?  Because theology matters!  Click HERE to read of the assault on this artist.

Papal Theology – Just a few days ago Pope Francis issued a statement in response to the ISIS beheading of 21 Coptics. I’m not sure if the Pope’s statement raised many eyebrows, but if it didn’t, it should have! When sharing his outrage, Francis said this: “It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants, they are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ… I ask that we encourage one another to go forward with this ecumenism that is emboldening us, the ecumenism of blood.”   Wow! The head of the Roman Catholic Church groups Catholics, Protestants and Coptics all together and has confirmed his ecumenical view by specifically highlighting it??!?  These religions have very different views of salvation and the life and worship of the believer (making them distinctly different religions) but the Pope lumps them in together under the title “Christian”? That is really big news, and it will have a huge effect in the months and years to come. A reader might be tempted to explain that away as simply a wish to come together as one in this time of grief and outrage, and that it isn’t referring to a true ecumenical movement. I might even agree if his words had been a little different and if his actions over the past year also pointed to his desire for one unified religion. This ecumenical drive, shared by Rick Warren, Beth Moore, Kenneth Copeland and others is going to have huge consequences in the coming year(s). Why? Because what they believe matters, just like what you believe matters!  Click HERE to read of Pope Francis statement.

Your Theology – Now here is the point of all of this – What about your theology?  Do you believe that you are made right with God by asking Him into your heart, or do you believe you must come to Him in repentance and faith?  It makes a huge difference!  Do you believe that Old Testament historical accounts are given as analogies of your life situations to help guide you in your decision-making or do you believer that they speak of Christ, as He’s the focal point of all Scripture?  How you read it can completely change the meaning of what it says in your understanding.  Do you believe that an unbeliever can understand the Scriptures just as well as a believer but they just choose not to believe, or do you think God must actively touch a person before the Scriptures can be fully understood?  Your opinion on this changes how you evangelize, defend the faith and talk with unbelievers, doesn’t it?  The answers to all these questions I just asked can be found in Luke 24.  Cool, eh?  All that good stuff in just one chapter of one book!  My point is this – quit wasting your time playing Angry Birds, watching Duck Dynasty and allowing the entertainment and media of a fallen and sensual world form the lenses by which you see that world.  Start actively “doing” theology.  You already do it, you know, so maybe it’s time you do it with a Bible in hand and start studying the work of some good solid teachers.  Banner of Truth has a good Puritan Paperback series and the Matthew Henry commentary is excellent and affordable if you are looking for a few places to start.  Theology matters.  It is changing our world even as you read this, and unless I’m very mistaken it will make drastic changes to it over the next decade.  It would be far better to discipline yourself now to careful study then be swept away in error and confusion down the road.  Click HERE to read more about asking Jesus into your heart.

 

 

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