Friday, June 29, 2007

Where Does Theology Come From?


Theology - the rational and systematic study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truth.

or the threechordwonder version:

Theology - Stuff I know about God.

A certain type of person has exclusivised 'Theology', to suggest that you have no theology until you have studied it thoroughly or completed a masters or similar. This is nonsense.

This type of theology often includes or is integrated with philosophy, but this seems to me to distract from God more often than it enhances our understanding, and can become another weapon in the Arsenal of Intellectualism (please appreciate the irony of that statement.)

That is not to say that these things are wrong, oh no, but its all to easy to make knowledge of theology a goal, whereas we need to make, and keep, knowledge of God as our goal.

There are many places that we can find more 'stuff' about God to add to our list of 'stuff we know about God', or theology. Depending on how we add to our list, we can end up with some very interesting questions and problems to solve.

Some of these places are obvious, some are not. Some are healthy and some are not. Hopefully, and prayerfully, we will see the difference and build a strong, coherent, God led theology.

Interesting, Graham Kendrick recently said that he believes that most people get their theology from songs. Whoa. If that's true, and in an environment where we see so much 'life application' teaching I would tend to agree, that puts a large weight of responsibility firmly on the shoulders of those who write/chose the songs we sing in Church (and maybe those who program TV radio etc etc.)

Which reminds me of a rule which I try to stick to when leading..always sing about the cross! I wish I knew where I learned that from...

I digress.

Theology is not meant to be complicated. Or simple. It is a relationship with Creator God; who we will never, on this earth, be able to understand or know everything about.

Usually I'd finish on a song, but given what I've said above, I'll finish on a quote from the bible:

Matthew 11:2525At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.



  1. Nice post. 'wisdom' as a definition springs to mind from what you've written

  2. You're very kind.

    From such a deep thinker as yourself, I have learned rather a lot.

  3. I think I am quite familiar with what Graham Kendrick talks about when he says we get most of our theology from songs. It is certainly something that John Bell (from the Iona Community) talks about a lot and why the Iona community produce so many books of original hymns.

    I think I agree, certainly songs in general have helped me learn more about the stuff of life than any other medium.

    A couple of points that arise from this are;

    1. I share the view that too many of our songs in church focus on 'i' rather than 'we'. And that they are normally 'triumphant' which is hardly how I feel on most sunday mornings, or any days actually.

    2. That the majority of 'Christian music' out of America shows a complete lack of engagement with current issues and shows a complete lack of any theological thinking at all. theologically speaking it is, in the main the most 'unChristian' music.

    Cheers for your post.

  4. Hey Mark, thanks for your comment.

    I am completely drawn to leading musical worship from a place of honesty.

    Jonny Baker published a great re-work of 'Men of Faith' called 'Men of Doubt' some time ago, and though I think we often need reminding of the victorious God we serve, there is room for the reality of brokeness that we all live in.

    Going back to the music point, I think it's helpful to remember that there is no such thing as Christian music, only Christian lyrics. It rather shifts the weight of responsibiliy on to the words we use. We should therefore be very careful (or deliberate.)