For most of my life I didn’t study theology. I thought that theology was boring and too academic. I, like many Christians, felt that theology was really an enemy of the church being a relevant and effective agent for God’s mission in the world. That a large portion of the church, rather than being focused on evangelizing and connecting relationally with people was overly focused on detailing specific theologies about God.
A couple of years ago, I took a theology class as part of a continuing education program in the Wesleyan denomination as a pastoral student. It was that class which began to change my perspective on theology. One of the books that we used was “The Way to Heaven” and it was based on the theology teachings of John Wesley. His approach was a very practical approach based on the “order of salvation” from sin to salvation. However, this class did not cover systematic theology. Rather, it just covered theological topics that pertained to salvation. The class helped me to have a more wholistic idea of salvation, but not much beyond that. It left me with the idea that theology can be practical but that systematic theology was unnecessary and that we just needed enough theology to be practical and reflective.
However, this class has begun to change my opinion. Reading through the first chapters of the textbook, I love this approach to theology. The idea that “Theology is disciplined reflection on God’s self-revelation because the God we know, love, and obey has revealed himself in times past”1 excites me for this class. I am also glad that rather than it being a single class, having THEO 201 and 202 as a two-part inter-connected course offering will give me a much broader and wide-reaching perspective on theology. This will help me in my personal relationship with God, with my studying for sermons and in my every day conversations with people about God and His plan for the world and for their lives. As it turns out, theology is not about getting in the way between us and our mission. In fact, theology is about connecting us to our mission. For as the textbook said, “theology arises from and issues forth in mission”2