Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Who is a theologian?

“I have no theological training! I don’t even have short course training about missions but I’m here in preaching the gospel!” my friend said emphatically as he delivered his sermon last Sunday. For me, his lack of training became apparent as his sermon was loaded with big theological terms that I guess most people in the congregation never heard before. He claimed he is not a theologian and he doesn’t need to be one to be used by God. I agree and disagree.

Who is a theologian? The problem arise when we think that the word theologian is to be used strictly for those who are academically trained and competent expert. But as Barth, Bultmann, R.C. Sproul, Moltmann among others would say every Christian is a theologian. Moltmann says it well,
“Theology is the business of all God’s people. It is not just the affair of the theological faculties, and not just the concern of the church’s colleges and seminaries. The faith of the whole body of Christians on earth seeks to know and understand. If it doesn’t it isn’t Christian faith. This means that the foundation for every theological specialization is the general theology of all believers, which corresponds to the Reformation’s thesis about the universal priesthood of all believers. All Christians who believe and who think about what they believe are theologians, whether they are young or old, women or men"
I know Pastors who don’t have seminary training, but the way they study the Scripture and expound it when they are preaching made the Word of God simple, clear and concretely applicable to everyday life of the believers. And I mention this in contrast to those who have “training” but seem to cloud the meaning of the Scripture because there is just too much background info and abstract ideas. When we study the Bible and communicate its message to the people, we are theologians. As Moltmann further says, “the text of biblical message is the same everywhere. This cuts across the different cultural contexts and creates ecumenical context, which extends through out ‘the whole Christendom on the earth’….academic theology is nothing other than the scholarly penetration and illumination by mind and spirit of what Christians in the congregation think when they believe in God and live in the fellowship of Christ.”

Indeed, we are all theologians, for better or for worse… the task I believe is as Christians we should all strive to be better theologians.


Steve Hayes said...

St Nilus said

A theologian is one who prays truly, and one who prays truly is a theologian.

Joey said...

Thanks Steve, and I agree.

Lazarus said...

I was thinking of organizing a theology refresher class at church.

I'm really inspired by your posts pastor Joey!