I am concerned. Troubled, actually, by the American church’s growing lack of interest in Theological things. Formal seminary training, classes at the local church and friendly Theological discussion seems to bring a collective yawn from the church masses.
Need a few examples?
- One pastor friend has completely given up offering Theological courses to his congregation for lack of interest. Service projects? Great. Theological offerings? Not so much.
- In the spirit of the Inklings, another church leader holds what he refers to as “Theology Pub” to read and engage with the thoughts and ideas of prominent Theologians. He finds interest minimal at best.
- Another pastor regularly offers Theological classes in an eight-week format in his megachurch context. A grand total of 25 regularly participate.
These snapshots are real, not fabricated to stir up some false blog tension. And, sadly, they are becoming the norm in churches across the United States. As I talk with pastor friends from a wide swath of denominations, I hear a consistent malaise expressed when it comes to Theology.
How can this be acceptable?
Theology is, in it’s simplest defined form, the study of God. This should be a regular part of church ministry, regardless of your denomination, network or tribe. God’s people must know who God is—His attributes, His character, etc.—if we are to live out a Christian faith that is biblical.
Instead, we seem more interested in creating God in our image. We develop caricatures of a god that we’d like to hang out with. A god who, curiously enough, wears the same jeans and listens to the same tunes that you and I do. Let’s consider a few of the prominent caricatures in our culture today:
- Hipster Jesus—This Jesus is so cool, so vanguard, so compelling, that everyone wants to follow him and be just like him.
- Tough-Guy Jesus—This Jesus lives up to a bumper sticker I saw on my commute recently. It read “Jesus Kicks … donkey image.” Clearly, his deity is not to be messed with!
- Touchy, Feely Jesus—This is the Jesus that loves everyone, and more important, everything that his creatures do—even when it contradicts Scripture.
- Helping Hand Jesus—This is the Jesus that rolls up his sleeves and serves the physical tangible needs of people. Yet, unlike the Jesus we read about in the Bible, never talks about the Kingdom, or sin, or forgiveness.