From The Pastor At St. Paul's UCC, Freeburg, IL

How To Learn Theology

I enjoy the life of the mind. It’s what made me a nerd in high school. I’m intrigued and engaged by ideas. So now the last few years I’ve been taking a new interest in Christian doctrine, and am loving it. I don’t know how much I’ve spent on books the last year, but I know my Nook is lined with dozens of book, largely on Calvinism – some read, some waiting to be read. Ideas. Thought. I love it!

This morning, though, I got reminded of one of the dangers of that. I read Martin Downes blog post “Are You Sure You Want To Be A Theologian” and he references Mike Horton’s new book Christian Faith (gotta get that one too!). Here’s Horton’s quote from Luther, and his comment:

Luther wrote, “It is by living, no–more–by dying and being damned to hell that one becomes a theologian, not by knowing, reading or speculating.”  We learn on the road, as pilgrims making our way to the City of God through the trials, burdens, questions and fears of our own hearts as well as the world around us.

We learn truly of God’s providence as we suffer, of God’s forgiveness in our sins, of the resurrection of the dead as we lie dying.

Luther’s poignant but hyperbolic statement does not mean that we do not need to read or study, but that even as we do this, it is more like looking for urgently needed rescue than contemplating urgent truths.

We do theology on our knees, calling on the name of our Redeemer.  Yet precisely because our God is so great, our situation so dire, and our salvation so full and free, theology is indispensable to piety.

Luther – so hard to figure out what he means :-0   Do you think what he says about theologians is also true of plain ol’ Christians?

Close the browser, Earl, and go live…


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