How Important is Theology?

I know that as I begin this post, there may be a few individuals who might disagree with me and that’s okay.

Of course, despite what people often assume, I’m really not looking to pick a fight. This is just a question I have been mulling over lately:

How important is theology?

I am obviously no theologian, nor do I pretend to be, so please take this fact into consideration. Yet, I know many Christians who might, maybe, if backed into a corner, outright consider themselves to be theologians.

There is nothing wrong with this–thinking of yourself in those terms, I suppose. Yet, as of late, as my church body has begun living out what it truly means to make Jesus Christ the Head of our church, theology seems less and less important.

Here’s why…

I Like Fruit

Within my church body we have wildly varying theological and doctrinal differences. It might be fair to say we have some Mark Driscoll’s and some Brian McLaren’s  among us and yet, despite this fact, no one really cares.

There are very few long, drawn-out, heated, or emotional debates over theological differences? It just doesn’t happen and it’s not because people hold their own convictions so lightly as to be willing to sweep them aside (how could you actually call it a “conviction” if that were the case?)

Rather, what we have come to realize as a body more and more, is that in Light of Christ, none of that really matters. What matters is us laying down our lives for our brethren, seeking the Person of Jesus as one Body, making Him head, and following Christ’s lead.

Far too often, I have seen endless theological hang-ups shift people’s focus off of Christ. Where is the logic in that? Often, Christians engaged in theological debates are more concerned with proving their side right than illuminating Christ.

Now, to be clear, I am not suggesting that theology itself is inherently bad or should be ignored. Not at all. I hold strong personal theological beliefs that I have come to rest upon through counsel, prayer, God’s Word, and the revelation of the Spirit.

Yet, you won’t find me chatting up whoever will listen, about the tenets of predestination versus free will or my thoughts on original sin (both of which I hold clear convictions regarding).

You won’t find me engaging in those discussions because at the end of the day, I find them fruitless.

In my experience, theological debates very rarely bare fruit. And I want to be a fruit-bearer. I want to impact God’s Kingdom, not scratch the surface, as it were.

Jake, the Atheist

In college, I was friends with a guy named Jake, who was a brilliant, thoughtful, funny, atheist. Jake loved to debate me on the origins of the universe, Creation, the so-called inerrancy of the Bible, and what have you. I was happy to play along. I was 20 and thought flexing my big, bad-a, spiritual brain muscle at him would impress him at a minimum, if not lead to his very salvation.

I know, dumb.

But at the end of the day, it wasn’t the long, playful, philosophical banter that inched Jake closer to the idea of a God. It was love. He could not understand why I would show him such love, care, and concern. What do you know…love, just like Jesus said:

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” John 13:35 and “By their fruit you will recognize them…” Matthew 7:16.

Jake never came to know Jesus (at least not while I knew him), but I know for a fact that his idea of what a Christian looked like, and thus of who God might be, was altered. I saw him soften. I saw his eyes open. I saw hope, however slight, spring up inside of him.

It was not my convincing arguments or quick-witted tongue that began to woo Jake. It was love, displayed through my love of Christ.

“…let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18

Theology is important, in that through a thoughtful process, it helps give us a clearer vision of God, but only so far as it reflects Jesus Christ. If anything, I would say theology is for the individual believer and not the collective group of those outside the church.

That is not to say either, that theology hasn’t convinced individuals at times throughout history that Jesus is Lord. I know it has, but how much of that was a stirring theological argument and how much was the power of the Holy Spirit, a revelation of Jesus Christ, and the Father drawing man to Himself?

Share your thoughts. Let’s debate. How important do you think theology is or isn’t? How much has theology impacted your own relationship with God? Do you find it fruitful or fruitless in relating to unbelievers?