Thinking Theologically

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Most people agree: the 2016 election season in the U.S. is a little bit crazy, and promises only to get crazier. The most important question for many Christ followers is no longer, Who should I vote for? but rather, How should I even decide who to vote for?

Now, in case you’re about to skip the rest of this post because you don’t want to read one more opinion about politics…don’t. This isn’t about politics, it’s about thinking. It’s about how we think—and specifically, how God, Scripture, and our faith as Christ followers not only inform our thinking, but actually shape it…or ought to shape it. Thinking determines action.

One of my first courses in seminary was called “Thinking Theologically About Ministry.” It was a great title, a great course, and taught by a professor I count as one of the top two I had. It has influenced almost all my ministry, not to mention much of the rest of my life.

Too few Christians think theologically. Whether we consider faith a private thing, segregate it from the rest of life, or simply do not allow our spiritual beliefs to impact our daily choices and activities, most of us do not intentionally reflect on how God and His Word should influence our lives.

I confess, I am given to introspection. Thinking—and thinking deeply—is easy and enjoyable for me; it energizes me. But not everyone is like me. Some are oriented more toward action than reflection; some feel deeply, moved by emotion and empathy. Thinkers, doers, and feelers are all good, strong, God-given types. But just as I need to learn to act and not only think; just as I need to work hard to learn, hear, and express the language of emotions; so others need to grow in the thinking realm—especially about the congruence of faith and life.

Here are some examples:

  • Creation: Christians generally believe that the three Persons of the trinity—Father, Son, and Spirit—each participated in creation. But so what? What impact does that truth have on how we as Christians view, treat, and live as part of that creation? If God created everything and mankind inherited Adam and Eve’s stewardship of creation, then perhaps Christians ought to be leading the way in environmental matters.
  • Career: There is much in the Bible about work—about being diligent and hard-working, showing integrity as both employer and employed, paying honest wages, not being lazy, providing for one’s family. There is also much about “ministry”—that is, about serving others, showing grace, introducing people to Jesus, loving both neighbor and enemy. What isn’t there is a dichotomy between work and ministry; Christians are all called to minister (i.e., serve). So what? So however God has gifted you, whatever passions and skills he has blessed you with, use them to both earn a living and serve others.
  • Voting: The Bible says that all authority comes from God. Governors, queens, and presidents all are given those positions, ultimately, by God. And God has often used even wicked rulers to achieve his purposes So what? As Christians, we shouldn’t live in fear of those who are—or might be—ruling over us. But where we have choice, we are responsible for choosing wisely, and for choosing those who will humble themselves before God.

We live in two kingdoms: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of earth. But those are not two separate entities; they overlap, and one will always and necessarily influence the other. As Christ followers, we must not withdraw from the world, but rather connect the dots of faith and family, marriage and ministry, Savior and struggle.

We must draw a line from Word to work, from God to humanity. We must think theologically.

 

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