Everyone (even Ray Lewis) Is A Theologian. Every One.

Theology is your friend, not your enemy, no matter who you are. Before our whitey tighties get in a postmodern wad over that hear me out:

Theology Isn’t Only For E-Hard Basement Dwelling Theologians

With the advent of church-theory driven seeker sensitivism and a competing rise of Neo-Calvinist hard-rationalism on the other end, the word “theology” has become a word with negative connotations attached to it.

The tragic assumption for many is this: Theology is only for people with mere head knowledge of Scripture (a book), but no heart knowledge of Jesus (or the Father, or the Holy Spirit). The common retort against serious systematic study of the Bible is usually along the lines of:

“God doesn’t live in a book!” or

“The pharisees were theologians too,” or

“God is about a relationship (or insert “love” or “people” here) not all this theology and doctrinal stuff.”

While each of those statements contains some relevant truth in them, they all mischaracterize the nature and function of theology in the average Christian life.

Far from being only for the over educated old white dude with Andy Rooney-ish eyebrows and a permanent scowl: Theology is for everyone; and, in the end, everyone is a theologian.

Andy Rooney is a theologian
If you stare into them, you will have tarantula nightmares…

The word theology comes from two Greek words – “theos,” which means “God,” and “logos,” which means “words.” The simplest definition of theology, then, is “God words” or words about God. Whenever someone speaks of God or the characteristics of God, he or she is speaking theologically and doing theology.

Oprah Is a Theologian

That means this: Whenever anyone opens their mouth and makes any statement about God they are making a theological statement: Rick Warren, Snooki, Oprah, and Joel Osteen all have a personal theology that they share every time they speak or write about anything pertaining to God or godliness.

There is no escaping this no matter what group, denomination (or non), or philosophical worldview you ascribe to.

The maniac with a megaphone, the politician pimping God for a vote, the pimply faced emo kid using His name as a curse word. Yes, theologians every last one of them.

Ray Lewis, the theologian and super scary beast man, said last week after the Ravens beat the Brady Bunch, “No weapon formed against this team shall prosper…” That, my friends, is a theological statement…albeit a twisted out of context one.

Ray Lewis is a theologian
Great football player. Bad Theologian. Please don’t tell him I said that…Please.

Even if a person despises the formal Christian education culture or any doctrinal debate, yet they speak words about God, Christ, Holy Spirit or Scripture in general, they have assumed the position of theologian. An unbelieving atheist, in a twisted way, has a theology and can function as a theologian.

The question is not whether we are theologians (ones who speak words about God), the question is whether we are theologians that are committed to carefully speaking the true words of God. If we are committed to truly know God, love people, and be in right relationship with Him, then we better be committed to knowing and sharing His word as faithfully as we can (2 Timothy 2:15).

For the sake of God’s holy name and rep, we all should be the best theologians we can be.

Also, for the sake of the Holy Spirit we better be the best theologians we can be. If the Holy Spirit wrote a book for us (He did!), we are not being “Spirit led” by building strange fires apart from it (2 Tim 3:16-17).

Theology Is For The Mind AND Heart

Theology helps fuel the mind with God’s own thoughts about Himself, and warms the heart with a passion for Him and others (admittedly I’ve jacked that sentiment from Piper). When we begin to cherish (heart) what we know (head) about Him, we are becoming good theologians (and disciples). Those who are satisfied in knowing little of God may well be satisfied in cherishing little of God.

Let’s not construct barriers Christ never mandated; We are called to love God with all our “heart” and all our “mind.” It is the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-38). Those who would separate the two are creating a false dichotomy. A passion for Scripture context, church history, and ancient languages may very well be the evidence of a heart aflame for God’s glory.

Some may quip, “Well, I am just about Jesus and experiencing God.” So is the true theologian. Completely immersing oneself into the mind expanding, soul stirring, heart igniting words of Jesus is a primary way of being all about Christ while experiencing Him.

What About That Mean Turd E-Theologian?

Granted, some hyper critical theological nitpicks can create irreparable damage in a church body or a Facebook status. But when a person sets his theological sights on everyone but himself on a weekly basis that reveals more about his heart than it does about serious biblical studies. A spirit of division and criticism is unwarranted and unbiblical..

But what do we make of the Bible drill champion “theologian” who has no heart of love, no fruit of the Spirit, shares no gospel and is lost as a ball in high weeds? This person is not an indictment on theological studies any more than Nickelback is an indictment on Rock and Roll.

Sometimes we swing the judgment pendulum so far the other way we altogether forget Pharisees need grace too. Give it to them until they are changed from the inside out.

But let me say to some of my precious “young, restless, and Reformed” audience: a true study of God should make a person the most humble, loving, giving, servant to all men. If your theological study takes you inward into an endless spiral of introspection and selfishness, let me be clear:

You’re doing it wrong.

And to everyone else: Theology is not the culprit. Theology is your friend. At least for this side of the eternity, until the veil is finally taken away, and we see and know Him face to face (1 Cor 13:12).

What say you my fellow theologians?

and

Please share.

Bryan Daniels

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Author: Bryan Daniels

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Jessica, and a father of three boys: Josiah, Gideon and Judah. I teach high school math as a job, read reformed theology as a hobby, and write this blog just for kicks. With the rest of my time I coach football and track.

33 thoughts on “Everyone (even Ray Lewis) Is A Theologian. Every One.”

  1. I am so happy I found your blog. These are some outstanding thoughts and I couldn’t agree more. I teach English, and my main struggle, it seems, is to get my students to think of themselves an intellectuals, that thinking is not something that “special” people do. I am going to find a way to work this post into class sometime. Thanks again, Chief!

    By the way, I love the phrase “whitey tighties!” Outstanding!

    1. You’re welcome and I’m glad you found it too Danny! That’s one thing the church is getting a little better at: Teaching the “laymen” that they are every bit the theologian and minister as the vocational staff. Peace and grace sir.

  2. Our theological forebears whose deep thinking built in deeper faith produced foundational theology that was also a spirituality. Many of them would never be allowed to be Elders in any contemporary church. They’d be considered far too “out there” and uncontrollable. Perfect. Count me in.

    Sir, you have a delightful grasp of this God stuff and a great blog through which to share such. Thanks.

  3. Ahhh! Yes! And this too — it’s origin is A.W. Tozer, though I’m sure I’m not getting it word for word…I hope the truth is still clear — “You can have truth in your head without the Spirit in your heart, but you can never have the Spirit in your heart without the truth in your head — the truth is the conduit through which the Spirit works.” Bring on the truth!! (and then thusly, the Spirit!!) Thanks so much for your wise, well-written words.

  4. I love what you said, “a true study of God should make a person the most humble, loving, giving, servant to all”….. I will quite possibly totally rip it off. Thank you for sharing. I think we need to take theology seriously, what we think, say, speak, teach, pray is far too important to not have a deep and considered understanding of who God is, and how God reveals himself to us. Good theology points us to God and makes us aware of the servant relationship we have with the Servant who came and died for us.

  5. Bryan, thank you for your blog. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” 1 Pet 3:15. Without Theology I wouldn’t know about a man named Jesus who “came to seek and to save that which was lost” (me). The Pharisees need to know of hope too… Like you said, “Pharisees need grace too.”

  6. Amen, Bryan. There is much wisdom in what you’ve written. Your post made me think of the Scripture that says, “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.” As we study the scriptures, are we seeking His face, longing to know Him more… When I first met my husband, I was attracted to him, and I remember studying him… I observed him in his day to day activities as he stocked shelves at Ames Dept. Store… I saw that he was a hard worker and took pride in giving his all, and making sure that whatever he did was done with excellence… the more I studied him, the more I grew to love him, and know his ways…

    The manager and other people who knew him from a distance. They heard about what a hard worker he was. They heard he was honest and kind. They saw how neatly the shelves were stocked, or the floor was cleaned, but they only saw the results of what he did. They didn’t “know” him as I did. They only knew about him. Even though they had the opportunity to know him, they only sought what they could get out of him. It was enough for them to know about him.

    It’s the same with many who study the Word. Some seek to really “know” God, while others just read stories about Him, without ever truly “knowing” Him. Both may read and study and look at the exact same scriptures, but only those who truly long to know Him… to know His ways, will truly benefit from studying His word. My prayer is that all who read your post will hunger and thirst to know His ways, and not merely His acts.

    God bless you as you continue to enlighten others, my friend.

    In Christ’s Love,
    Cheryl

  7. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge is not my cup of tea. If it does not lead me to understand God, in an intimate way, nor to know who I am in a God, so that I can then show who God is to others, then it seems like a godless pursuit.

    Many may boast in the depth of their Bible knowledge and in the excellency of their theological tenets, but those with spiritual discernment are aware that it is dead. Watchman Nee

    1. I agree. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge is a dead pursuit. True theological study does just what you stated: it helps us see who we are in God and helps us see who God is so we may share Him with others.

  8. Yes, we are all theologians, and even systematic theologians if we stop and think about things at times. We want our ideas about God to make sense, fit together, and lead us to some conclusions about living this life. Study of God through His Scriptures is the best way to find the truth. I can’t understand those who would separate God from His Word and say they don’t “worship a book.”

  9. Wow… I’m a theologian and never knew it.

    Just thought I’d let you know, I’ve been sharing your work over several social networks. It’s far to inspirational to keep to ones self. 😀

  10. Good stuff. Especially for so many of us armchair theologians who never get out of the boat to get our feet wet. Theology is for everyone, but it is designed to turn us into doers of the Word.
    Looking forward to hearing some more.

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