Breakthroughs

I’m realizing lately that theology majors can be real jerks.  I’ve noticed this about myself.

But today, I think I had a good breakthrough.  I was talking to my friend–we’ll call her Lindsey–about life and passion and things, and somehow we got around to some of the differences between our personality types and such.  She’s really the kindest and most genuine girl you’ll ever meet.  Anyway, the substantive content of the conversation as I remember it was:

“Yeah, Lindsey, but I mean theology is something that we all do whether we like it or not.  Everybody, whether explicitly or not, has a set of beliefs which inform the way they think and act . . . ”

“Well yeah, Mike, but honestly, I just don’t care [about theology].  I care about people.

“So what you’re telling me is that you believe that the Holy Spirit can move through people to teach us something about God?”

I know it doesn’t sound that clever, but you should have seen the look on her face.  My favorite moments in life are watching someone learn something knew that gives them a complete paradigm shift.  She had just never thought of it that way before.  Turns out that that’s exactly what she believed, but what she didn’t realize was that emanating from her love of people, or perhaps lurking behind it, was a theological assertion (though she would never call it that) that human beings are instruments of God’s grace and truth.

“Well yeah!  Theology is not what you think, Lindsey, it’s what you do.  People do theology every day in the decisions they make, in their words and in their actions, in where they decide to live, in who they decide to love–everything.”

May this be a reminder to myself especially: true theology is not known, it is performed.  What I believe is not what I say I believe: what I believe is what I do.

Hmm.  Maybe I’m learning something useful after all.

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3 Responses to Breakthroughs

  1. ben adam says:

    Dammit, I feel like I’ve been trying to say this for years. Well said.

  2. fin says:

    aren’t you kind of blurring the lines between theology and philosophy though? this is assuming there is a line between them, which is WAY debatable, but for our purposes, let’s just go ahead and suppose there is. i wouldn’t say i have any theology. i have philosophy perhaps, and it’s fluid, but theology assumes a sort of mysticism that is absent in the ideals that inform my decisions.
    this is teetering on the brink of becoming a religious-secular divide in terms of what you call the very same thing that makes you act the way you do…but i’m open to a different answer.

  3. ben adam says:

    Philosophy means literally “The Love of Wisdom”. Of course with this in mind, we must ask what is wisdom for. Wisdom is for action, and wisdom is for knowing how to do what is right, profitable, not bad, etc. Therefore, what determines action is achieved or attained wisdom. Similarly, in theology, our beliefs about G_d inform our actions. For example, people believe G_d led the Israelites out of Egypt, therefore they celebrate passover; people believe Jesus loved the outcasts so they work in a homeless shelter. Should we be surprised when theologies and philosophies overlap in action? No but we must accept the fact that the rudimentary basis of philosophy is “Know thyself” and the rudimentary basis of theology is “Love the other” (other=G_d, neighbor, stranger, and enemy). This is where they diverge. Philosophy seeks the well-being of the self; theology–when practiced correctly–seeks the well being of the other.

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