Theology is all around you, ripe for the picking. Take, eat: “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:8).
Having a right and rotund theology of God is vital to our discipleship with Jesus Christ. Theology isn’t meant to be quarantined to books on shelves, or chained to the grounds of a seminary’s campus. Theology is for everyday Christianity, for us “ordinary” Christians, for all of life, in all of life, for the glory of God. Theology is always relevant because God is omni-relevant.
Theology is everywhere because God is everywhere. His omnipresence provides a fresh lens for the present. It’s easy to take cheap shots at theology as being a mere mind-filler, but thanks be to God it is more.
We must see that, yes, theology is for the mind, but it is for loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving our neighbors as ourselves. To belittle theology is to belittle our God who architected the universe to be an animated systematic theology. God loves theology. God’s world is a free seminary course for every saint under the sun.
The World Is a Seminary
God tells us in the Psalms that he is theologizing — teaching, training, informing — us about himself. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Again, “The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory” (Psalm 97:6).
Paul co-signs the Psalms, “His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:20). In this seminary, God is the professor, God is the subject, and our required textbooks are his word and his world.
Think about how often God tells us to look at his creation and our surroundings to learn about him and our faith.
Solomon tells us to look at ants (Proverbs 6:6), angry mama bears (Proverbs 17:12), and strong rope so we can learn how to live wisely under the sun (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
Jesus tells us to consider the birds in order to help squash our worries and fears as we trust our gracious Father (Matthew 6:26).
God tells Abram to look at the stars (Genesis 15:5).
The psalmist compares the sweetness of God’s word with delicious high-fructose honey (Psalms 119:103).
Jesus tells us to think of trees and their fruit as we think about our discipleship with him (John 15:4–5).
Paul tells us to think about athletes, soldiers, and farmers as we think about endurance and steadfastness in the Christian life (2 Timothy 2:4–6).
Peter tells us to look at newborn babies who crave their milk to show us how we need the word of God — if we’ve tasted his goodness (1 Peter 2:2–3).
Do we have ears to hear, eyes to see, buds to taste? Does the expanse of the universe give us insight to the eternality of God? Do the redwoods of California teach us about the majesty of God? Does a mother hen gathering her chicks remind us of God’s heart to gather sinners unto himself? Does Steph Curry and his work ethic echo the value of pursuing godliness? Does the aroma of filet mignon on a charcoal grill remind us to “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2)?
Far from belittling theology, God provides unending object lessons for us. His world is filled with purposeful echoes of him. We didn’t luck out that the world helps us grasp the contours of God and his ways. God designed it this way. God embedded lines of code into the universe, revealing his attributes, teaching us how to think, feel, respond, love, taste, and behold — how to live for his glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). Our textbooks are his world, his word, and the Word made flesh.
Jesus Is Our Theology
Jesus is our master, our teacher, our friend, our Lord. He is our theology with ten fingers and ten toes. He is our theologian supreme. Without him, we cannot understand theology. He, the Logos, makes God, the Theos, known (John 1:18). Our theology must be centered on this glorious gospel of God, for without it — without him — we do not have Christian theology. If God is not our center, we’ve lost what it means to be Christian. The gospel is our theology, and from it the rest of Christian theology flows.
The apostle Paul told the Corinthians, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). This doesn’t mean Paul taught the Corinthians nothing but the gospel; rather, he taught them everything in relation to the gospel of the crucified and resurrected Nazarene. We cannot experience, or know, any doctrine until we’ve experienced the gospel. When the cross becomes more than a borrowed and blood-encrusted log to becoming your life and your all, the meaning of theology opens up to you — the world opens up to you. As Charles Spurgeon says,
As for theology, Christ is the true theology — the incarnate Word of God; and if you can comprehend him you have grasped all truth. He is made unto us wisdom; getting him you have the wisdom of the Scriptures. The quintessence of the word of God is Christ. Distill the book — and reach its essential quality, and you have discovered Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, and the King of the Jews. He is the Alpha and Omega of holy Scripture. (Pulpit Sermons, 711–712)
Jesus, the God-man, is the center of all true theology, of all doctrine, of the Bible itself (John 5:39; 1 Corinthians 15:3–4). Further, he is the bull’s-eye of the universe (Ephesians 1:10). All things exist for Jesus (Colossians 1:16–17) — including our theology.
“To belittle theology is to belittle our God who architected the universe to be an animated systematic theology.”
Calvinism exists for the fame of God. Systematic and biblical theology exist for the name of God. The resurrected God-man is the lifeblood of all Christian theology. He makes knowing theology possible, and he makes theology enjoyable. Without the regenerating and illuminating power of the Spirit of Christ, we wouldn’t be able to acknowledge, agree with, and adore the doctrine of the Trinity, the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, substitutionary atonement, the resurrection to come, and the new earth.
Once we have been born again, the blinders are ripped from our eyes, and we begin to behold what ants, volcanoes, Scripture, preachers, and books have been proclaiming: the glory of God. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
From a Galilean hill to a neighborhood coffee shop, and in the sweetness of a pineapple to the rising of the sun, class is in session. Bibles open. We are all theologians in God’s seminary. Welcome.