Imbedded Theology

In the past year, I have had two conversations that have been very similar- yet making me scratch my head.  They went like this:

Conversation #1:  College student from a Reformed Tradition telling me that they go to the Bible for their theology and not an author, writer, commentary, etc.  Yet, as we talk, it was very evident about the impact of the books they were reading and the podcast they were listening to had on their spiritual life.

Conversation #2:  With another Christian leader, in his thirties, from a non-denominatinal church. As we talked about some theological traditions, he stated that he didn’t know what theological tradition he was because he just would go to the Bible.

First, let me applaud them (and maybe you) who make it a point to dive into the Word of God.  There is no better way for us to get to know God than to read God’s Word. Knowing both people well, I know their passion for God and for the scriptures. This is not what makes me scratch my head.

It’s the idea that we go to the Scriptures without any personal baggage, biases, or theology whether its come from books, commentaries, podcast, etc. This post isn’t to affirm any theological tradition as correct, but it doesn’t matter whether you’re Reformed, Wesleyan-Arminian, or Presbibaptistcostal- we each have our own theological system in place.  Some of it is just more formalized than others.

For instance:

  • When you read a passage of scripture and make an interpretation based on the context of the text and your knowledge of the Bible- you are developing your own theology.
  • What we may not realize is that all our Sunday School lessons, sermons from our pastors, messages from our youth pastors, the way our parents raised us, and the books that we read, help us to interpret the Bible in a particular way.
  • If our major influences in our Christian Faith (pastor, youth pastor, etc) are Wesleyan-Arminian, it’s quite likely that we ascribe to that theological system without even realizing it.
  • Even for those of us who are non-denominational, the influences our pastors and past leaders create a theological framework for the church to work in.  Who influenced them?
Why is this important?
I believe we should engage the theological systems we are raised up in (or find ourselves in). What do they say about God? About humanity? Is this what I truly believe? Is this really what the Bible teaches? What’s the background of my pastor or favorite podcast? Do I track with their theology?
Ultimately, we are each theologians are we try our best to understand and grow closer to God. We create theological frameworks for our families by our prayers before meals and in our family worship time.
How does theology affect your life? Your family? Do you engaged with your pastor’s theology and what your study of scripture has taught you?

About Steve LaMotte

Husband of Andrea and father of four amazing children. Pastor at Avenue United Methodist Church in Milford, Delaware.
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