Who Needs Theology Essay
Theology is defined as “any reflection on the ultimate questions of life that point toward God” (Grenz and Roger pg. 13). Theology makes up everyone’s life whether they know it or not. Everyone is a theologian in their own way.
This book takes us through the process of understanding theology and putting it to practical use in our daily lives. It gives step by step instructions on how to practice theology and how to defend your own theology. It also fills a void in our life that has been empty. Theology not only enlightens us in our religion but it also gives us a since of purpose to help fill that void in our life.
Who Needs Theology? explicates that every single person is a theologian. In the next chapter they restate what theology is in a simpler way. They say that theology is “simply faith seeking understanding” (Grenz and Roger pg. 16). Reflection is “using our minds to organize our thoughts and beliefs, bring them into coherence with one another by attempting to identify and expunge blatant contradictions and make sure that there are good reasons for interpreting Christian faith in the way we do”.
They go on to say that reflection involves a certain amount of critical thinking. One cannot just reflect without thinking deeply about a certain subject. The book explains that there are five different types of theology: folk, lay, ministerial, professional, and academic theology. Folk theology is “unreflective believing based on blind faith in a tradition of some kind” (Grenz and Roger pg. 27).
Lay theology is the same thing, but reflection defines the difference between folk and lay theology. Ministerial theology is the same as lay theology but the level of reflection it involves is much greater. Professional theology involves “instructing lay people and pastors in their use” (Grenz and Roger pg.32). The final kind of theology is academic theology. It is virtually philosophical theology aimed primarily at other theologians.
This book teaches us that there are different kinds of objections to theology: the Killjoy objection, the divisiveness charge, the speculation accusation and the stalemate indictment. The killjoy objection can betray a subtle misunderstand of Christianity that lowers it to the level of superstition. The divisiveness charge objection basically states that “Jesus unites and theology divides” (Grenz and Roger pg.59).
The speculation accusation objection states that most people think that theology is just useless speculation. The final objection is the stalemate indictment. This states that theology really makes no real progress. The book explains that the two major tasks of theology are the critical task and the constructive task. The critical tasks “examine beliefs and teachings about God, ourselves, and the world in light of Christian sources, especially the primary norm of the biblical message” (Grenz Roger pg. 70).
Another critical task is to divide valid Christian beliefs into categories based on levels of importance. The constructive tasks are to “set forth the unity and coherence of the biblical teaching about God, ourselves, and the world in the context in which God calls us to be disciples” (Grenz and Roger pg. 80). The constructive tasks are also to relate those models relevantly to contemporary culture.
In summary the authors of the book challenges each and every person to engage in theology. This book has many great techniques in learning how to understand theology. Before I read this book, I also had the opinion that theology was not for everyone and you had to have many years of experience before you could be a theologian. I believe now that everyone really is a theologian. The four different types of theology have given me an understanding in where I am now, and where I am going to be in the future.
This book has also given me the knowledge of what most people’s opinions are. This book has motivated me in a great way. I believed that you had to have multiple degrees and masters to become a theologian. I did not realize that everyone is already a theologian according to this book. With this in mind, I feel more confident in going out and putting to use my skills in theology. This book has made me equipped in this subject.
They have taught me that there are different levels to a theologian. I consider myself a lay theologian because I am past the part of saying that “nothing will change my ways” or “I have done this my whole life so why change now?” I am on the part of actually putting reflection in what I believe in and what I hold true to.
This book also motivates me in the way that you cannot start at the top of the theology chain and everyone has to work their way up. I thought since I am twenty-one years old that it is pointless to start studying theology because theologian have been doing it their whole life. I did not realize that even the most educated theologian started off from the beginning and did not just dive head first into the academic theologian role. This book has also equipped me extremely well when dealing with the people that do not believe in theology.
They have taught me the four different kinds of objections that people have with theology. Knowing this, I can now be prepared to encounter people that think that people participate in theology are non-Christians. I will integrate many aspects of theology into my life and my vocation. I am majoring in criminal justice and I plan becoming some sort of law enforcer. I need to have theology in this career for many reasons.
One reason I need this for my career is that if I did not know why I am putting the criminals in jail, or why I even should care if people break the law, the world would be more messed up than it already is. I need to study hard in theology so I have a reason for preserving the peace and protecting the innocent. I will also integrate theology into my daily life. Instead of always assuming that my pastor is always correct in every message, I now can take his message then go home and analyze what he said.
I can then, from that analysis, conduct my own conclusion. In doing this, my faith will grow stronger every single day and I will no longer just take in every single word that my pastor says behind the pulpit. I can also integrate theology in my school life. Instead of assuming that everything that comes out of the mouth of the professor is one hundred percent true I can now go back and determine what if what the pastor says lines up exactly with scripture.
If I do this I will become a harder working student and I believe even a harder working person in general. In conclusion, I had not realized that theology was a huge part of everyone’s life. Everyone is a theologian whether one acknowledges it or not. This book gave step by step instructions on how to develop and defend our own theology. This book has helped me tremendously in my development of my own personal theology.
Grenz, Stanley J., and Roger E. Olson. Who Needs Theology? An Invitation to the Study of God. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1996.