When I hate theology

Last night I was lying in bed waiting for Lynn to finish in the bathroom and I was having a mini-crisis. I’ve found myself really far behind in the reading that I’m doing for class in August. I started off good, but then I hit a book by a guy named Meredith Kline (yep, I bet he got beat up a lot growing up). The book, Kingdom Prologue, is focused on the book of Genesis and it is deep and hard theology. I’ve been reading it for two or three weeks now and have only finished 250 pages or so (and I’ve only gotten to Gen 9)!

So I was lying in bed thinking, maybe I’m not cut out for deep theology. Worse, I was thinking, maybe I don’t really like deep theology. Then it hit me – this book isn’t deep theology, it’s technical theology. And it’s dry. It’s theology without doxology, which is awful. It’s like soccer without the goal, football without the touchdown. I affirmed to myself that I do love theology when it is done worshipfully, not dryly. The apostle Paul does this so well. He writes deep and hard theology, and then in the middle of his discourse, he breaks out into doxology:

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”

“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Romans 11:33-36

As you can tell, my wife takes a long time getting ready for bed, cause I had still yet another breakthrough waiting for her. I realized that the author is mildly to blame – he writes technically, but doesn’t ever express in writing what these great truths are doing to him internally: is he humbled by God’s power and sovereignty, is he in awe of his grace, does he fear because of his holy law? I don’t know, because he doesn’t say. But, truth be told, I bear a lot of the blame in this as well. I haven’t been reading devotionally. I haven’t been meditating on these truths – just filling my head with them. The three years I was in seminary were three of the best years for me spiritually. Why? Because I was reading things devotionally – which sometimes meant more slowly and frequently meant that I didn’t get all the reading done for a particular class – but so be it.

I read this a few weeks ago and I need to remember it as I continue studying deep, technical theology: “Study to be a saint, not a scholar”.

One final epiphany, one that came to me as I’m writing, not as I was lying in bed. I wonder how many sermons I’ve preached that I thought were deep theology, but were just technical. Hmm.

One thought on “When I hate theology

  1. Cool thoughts Dan. I appreciate that you can have these epiphanies at night…and remember them/write them down the following morning 🙂 I need to work on that!

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