What is Theology?
We had been working on something else. The boys had just finished giving presentations on famous Americans, when I pulled out three different kinds of knives. Gently, I showed what each knife did, what it was named, and let them get a closer look. This was the first step in learning how to safely use a knife.
When it comes to Theology Safety, identification is also our first step. Just like everyone cuts (whether it is with the edge of a fork, a pair of scissors, or a knife) anytime we try to understand our relationship to God, we are practicing theology.
Theology is the study of the nature of God and religious belief. Perhaps when we think of theology we think of dusty tomes with learned people sifting through thousand year old words. Yes, this can be theology. The truth is, anytime we attempt to understand God, we are practicing theology. Perhaps we are using someone else's template to define theology for us. Perhaps we want to believe we don't practice theology at all. Perhaps we use multiple sources to come to our own theology. No matter what we believe, we are practicing theology.
Today I'm going to use a simple scripture to make a point:
I'm going to get into some really important tools as the weeks progress. Today I just want to make a point. Read through the scripture without inflection. Seriously. Stop reading this and read the scripture.
Okay, what can we glean from the text? We know Mary, Martha, Jesus and others are there. Maybe the disciples were there, maybe they were not. Notice it doesn't say Martha welcomed the disciples as a guest when she welcomed Jesus. If you mentally put the disciples in the house, congratulations, you made a theological choice. If you mentally did not put the disciples in the house, congratulations, you too made a theological choice. We know that Martha was working on the meal while Mary sat at Jesus' feet. Did you visualize the body language of Mary, Martha, Jesus, or those others listening? Did you see them disgusted, intrigued, or something else? If you did, you were practicing theology.
Now read through the scripture again, and this time add inflection to the dialogue. How is Martha talking to Jesus? How is Jesus talking to Mary?
Really? You are just going to keep reading, and not do what I asked? Go back up there and read the scripture with inflection. Come back here when you are done.
The scripture says nothing about the emotions in the room. Emotions are really important to this story. How is Martha talking to Jesus? She told Jesus to order Mary into the kitchen. How did she do that? Was there humility in her voice? Was she comfortable enough to just to make bold statements like that? This tells us something about the personal relationships of Jesus, and yes it's theology. Why did Jesus say Martha's name twice? Was she trying to talk over him? Was she heated or hurt and he was trying to calm her down? Was he angry and he was chastising her? How we mentally think about Jesus' words tells us something about his humanity. It is theology.
Here are the things we are going to look at over the coming weeks: