Happy 20141! Yes, I know we’re almost two weeks into the new year, but we like to start things off properly around here.
We are starting a new series to kick off the new year – Word of The Week. For this series we will use the resources of Faith UMC’s clergy and their seminary educations. Pastors make it out of seminary having done a lot of reading. Faith UMC has three pastors, which means there is a wealth of information for the church to access.
Two books that will help the Word of The Week series are the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church and the Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology. Let’s start with the last word in that sentence to kick off the Word of The Week series, shall we?
Theology. Just saying it out loud is enough to make some folks run for the exits. Some say “I don’t do theology” or “I can’t do theology”. Other say that theology is what the pastors are paid to do, so they don’t have to, they just want to hear a good sermon and that’s enough. So what is this intimidating word? What does theology mean?
The word “theo” is Greek for God, and “logy” means to study or to discuss. Simply put, if you study God or talk about God, you are engaged in “theology”. It’s not at all as intimidating as it sounds. To “do theology” means that people of faith are thinking about what God is calling them to do in their context and then putting actions to their beliefs. To “reflect theologically” means that a group of Christians has done something (a mission project or a worship service) and then talked about it, what it means to them, what they learned about God/Christ/Holy Spirit and themselves in the process.
For example, Faith UMC youth participate in mission projects and camps during the summer. At the end of each work day or after a camp worship service, our youth gather and reflect on the day – what they learned, how they saw Christ through the actions of others, how their hearts are affected by the Spirit. This is theological reflection.
The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church says that theology’s theme is the Being and Nature of God and all God’s creation. Theology, then, is learning or discussing with others about God, creation, and humanity. Theology is important to the church, and isn’t something that only pastors with a seminary education can do. Theology is something all believers do when then think about or study about God/Christ/Holy Spirit.
Discussion questions: What do you think about this definition of “theology”? How can you “do theology” or “reflect theologically” in your daily life?
Also leave a comment if you have suggestions for our Word of The Week series – what words do you want to know more about?