17/08/2011 01:08
              Theology is a popular term in the evangelical Christian circle today. Probably, there are some people who regard theology as a bad word or bad term. In talking about theology, some people are offended and they don’t want to discuss about theology because they used to end up their discussion with arguments and misunderstanding because of diverse belief in their theology. No matter what it is, in the midst of such awkward misunderstanding about theology, it is a big challenged for Christians to deeply emerge in studying about theology and get ready for answer of any challenge because theology is “necessary for the well-being of Christians and of contemporary Christianity Therefore, it’s a privilege to observe about theology in this paper.
The definitions of theology

              The word theology” is a combination of two Greek words, theos, “God”, and logos, “word, discourse and doctrine. So, in the simplest definition, theology is the study of God or the doctrine of God. The term “theology” can be used somehow narrowly and broadly yet the different usages are quite valid. In the broad and more usual sense theology includes all “Christian doctrines, not only the specific doctrine of God, but also all the doctrines that deal with the relations God sustains to the universe”. Thus, theology is “the science of God and His relations to the universe”, regarding men’s relation to Him as His creatures, man’s condition and His redemptive work for mankind. P.B. Fitzwater defined that theology “is the science of God’s essential being and His relationship to the universe as set forth in the Holy Scriptures”. The Scripture is the source and means of Christian theology. Charles Ryrie also says that theology is “thinking about God and expressing those thoughts in some way.” . Therefore, in summing up the definitions, theology is an expression, doctrine, philosophy, worldview of one’s belief and thinking between the relation of God and man in the light of the scripture consciously and unconsciously.

              Theology is biblical because it reveals and uses the tools and methods of the Bible. It is systematic because it draws upon the whole of the Bible systematically and orderly. It also relates to the issues of general culture and learning. It must also be contemporary in a way that theology fits the contexts, questions and challenge of the present time. Besides, theology is to be practical in a sense that it can relate to our practical concerns so that the biblical thought or sound doctrines of the Bible that we gain will penetrate our practical daily life toward the praise and glory of God.
The reasons of doing theology

              First of all, theology is done in order that we can comprehend the work of God and what he is doing towards us and in the world.  As the Lord says in His Word, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” (Isaiah 55: 8), doing theology helps to understand the thoughts, ways, movement and plan of God. Without knowing God’s thought and an action, joining Him is a far way to go and lack of knowledge leads people to perish and mistake. Theology leads Christians to understand the work of God down through the century to the contemporary situation. Thus emerging in doing theology is a must to see and experience the power and movement of God in our lives.

              Secondly, doing theology gives Christians a life that pleasing to God and setting good examples for others. The fallen nature, separated from God by birth can’t please Him by good merits (Rom 3:10-18; 3: 23; 5:10). And salvation and the forgiveness of sin can’t be earned by human effort but by grace alone through faith in believing Jesus Christ, who died, buried and resurrected for all mankind through the help of the Holy Spirit. (Eph 2: 8-9; Rom 6:23; Titus 3’5; Rom 5: 8). In His blood, there is remission and forgiveness of all sins. Listening to theology of salvation comes from preachers, pastors and evangelist etc based on preaching the Word of God and that leads to reconciliation with God. Without knowing the word, the love of God and the salvation messages of good news, how would a person know what he should believe? ….faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). Knowledge of God and his world build up one’s life in away that he can be reconciled to God and live a life that reflects good moral and characters. Knowledge of God and intimate relationship with Him changes one’s life and make him accountable, integrity and useful vessel for God. On the other hand, without having knowledge of God, it’s hard to live out moral holiness in daily life and that is impossible in the sight of the Lord. Satan blinds one’s eyes and does evil things against the Lord. Without knowing God there can’t be successful life and good life. To keep one’s life safe from sinful things, his knowledge of God and the Bible are the keys. The source of life, character and discernment of right and wrong comes from the Lord through his world and as much as one commit himself to Him; he is transformed in Christ likeness and bears fruits which glorify the Lord. Therefore, emerging in doing biblical based theology is very crucial for today Christians.

              Thirdly, doing theology is keys to understand God’s desire, will and mind. Though God can’t be seen today by human eyes, His will, desires, plans, and commands for Christians can be clearly understood through His words. He expressed His love, care and way for mankind. Since his mission to reach the whole nation is seen through his word and if somebody is deeply connected with the knowledge of his word, he will be moved and impacted to have the same vision and compassion towards the world. Doing theology motivates Christians to carry on God’s mission work so that everyone may become disciple-making believers and the whole world may see the love of God and receive Him as their Savior and Lord.

              Fourthly, successful and effective minister is a result of having good theology. The more one knows about God, the more he will be influenced by Him. Then, his intimate relationship with God will transform his old perspective about ministry and gives a new perspective which can change people’s life from desert life into wellspring of life. Besides, doing theology renews one’s heart and mind (Rom 12:2: cf. Ps 51: 10; Ps 103: 5) so that he can see the movement of God in his ministry and follows His way.

              Fifthly, doing theology gives Christians assurance of salvation and security. Besides, it also gives victorious life in daily battle field. It protects one’s heart not to commit sins and leads into the paths of righteousness. One’s knowledge about God and His word becomes a lamp to his feet and a light for his path (Psalm 119:105). It gives Christians holy life and good attitudes. (Psalm 119: 9). It revives souls and gives wisdom and knowledge (Psalm 19: 7). Besides, it gives joy and peace to the inner heart of believer (Psalm 19: 8), regardless of the situation when he puts trust in God. Moreover, theology shapes one’s way of life. Thus our theology defines our way of life.

The methods of doing theology

              Everybody does his own theology consciously or unconsciously. Every decision that he makes is the result of his theology. Therefore, theology is much closed with one’s worldview and philosophy. If one’s theology is rooted in the word of God, he will have a philosophy or worldview which carries the biblical perspective but if he doesn’t have any knowledge about the word of God and personal encounter with God, his theology may totally come from his historical context, culture, tradition and self. There are two systems of doing theology and it is worth to have a brief look on both of them.

        1. Theology from above: This is a systematic way of doing theology. The word of God is used as the basic and final authority as the standard. This ways of doing theology comes from the historical background, traditions, church background or family background. It’s like the children adopt their parent’s way of lives. Many believers adopt those kinds of doing theology. If it comes from the sound doctrine background, it will help them to discover what God is doing in their lives and in this world. The parents, pastors, or denominational background influence one’s theology (knowledge of God). If his sources are sound, it can impact his life to be a good theologian, effective and growing believer and even disciple-making minister. Mostly, this kind of doing theology is used by Pastors and leaders in the church while doing the sermon and preparation for sharing the Scriptures.

              Moreover, it’s incredibly effective for new believers and Sunday school students who do not have much knowledge about the Word of God. Since they are immature and new born baby in spiritual sight, they need to be fed by sound doctrines by their pastors, teachers, leaders, or mentors. Even though they were asked questions, their usual answers may probably, “I don’t know” or “teach me”. That means, they can not precisely relate or reflect their own lives with the word of God. They need a guide and help. On the other hand, many are also influenced by cults and heresy from their historical, traditional background. As results, their ways of doing theology follow their leaders’ pattern and they used to fall into the same pitfall of heresy or cause worse. For instance, if someone comes from a conservation Baptist church, his way of doing theology and reflection will come from the theology of the former pastors. Therefore, in order to do a good theology, someone should really know the word of God with its historical context at the same time also his own context and articulate in his own present situation. The problem lies behind is that if someone does not know God and the word how he could do a good theology, rather his limited knowledge may lead him to heresy and cults.

        2. Theology from below: This is doing theology from one’s own experience and reflecting in the light of the Scriptures. It starts not from tradition or historical backgrounds, but from the very daily experience and expounded in it to see the connection with the work of God in his life and other’s lives as well. Many people do theology based on their experiences or own story. Considering back what he had been and has been happening in his life, one makes reflections to discover the movement of God in his life for the benefit of self and other’s encouragement. By doing this, one tries to realize where God is in his specific situation while encountering struggles and happiness. He tries to gain the lessons what the Lord has been teaching him and reflected in his own context to apply the outcomes in a relevant and practical way. This kind of doing theology is helpful among mature or adult believers who already have theological knowledge or background. They reflect their own experience and try to find out the involvement of God, reasons and answers from the light of the Word.
              Both approaches are helpful and needed in doing theology. Indeed, we do theology from above and from below. To avoid big mistake in doing theology, one should find the balance not be so extreme in one side but as together like right and left hand. The challenge is to have appropriate knowledge of the word of God and a right relationship with God in daily walk. I believe that the Bible is the infallible word of God and trustworthy in the original writing so it is the best guidebooks for past, present and even to the future. To live well, to bear fruit, to do good theology, sound understanding of the God’s word and personal encounter with God in an intimacy way are the most crucial things.
The requirements of doing theology                                  
              First and foremost, the qualification for doing theology is to have personal encounter with God. In other words, somebody must believe Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and Lord because without knowing about who God is, how can he do theology? Well, somebody may try doing without knowing God, but he will never succeed or comprehend the things of God because theology is all about progressing relationship with God in relation to one’s life. Secondly, a man needs to be trained or have concrete knowledge about the Bible because the Bible talks about God and the relations to man and the universe. In other words, he needs to have the sound and correct understanding of biblical theology because lack of a true biblical theology can cause errors in doing theology. Without knowing the Bible, nobody can’t understand the way of God because the Bible only can tell us clearly about the way, desires, will and purpose of God with the Holy Spirit who dwells in believer’s life. Thirdly, a person needs to have close and right relationship with God to know His movement. Spending time with God in prayers and spiritual disciplines are also required. Fourthly, he needs to understand the historical verification of the canonical books of the Bible to determine their historical integrity. Finally, diligent exegesis of the Bile text to determine the definite meaning of the Scripture statementis also a must.
The doers of theology     
              An assumption that theology is only done by seminary students, pastors or fulltime workers in the ministry is wrong concept rather theology is done by everyone conscious and unconscious whereas the way how he does and his theology can probably differ from others.. Unbelievers do their theology depend on their knowledge or traditional backgrounds about gods and reflect in their own ways. But as Christian, theology is done based on the knowledge of the perfect Word of God and his own experience in relationship with God in daily life. Regardless of ages those who are young, mature, and immature, pastors, ministers and everyone do theology.
The occasions of doing theology
              Theology is done in every time especially in times of problem, happiness and sickness. Of them, one’s theology is seen more in time of sickness and problems. His life reflects more what God is trying to say or teach me in this situation. One asks the Lord and tries to discover what blessings or answers He has indented to give behind the problems and find out why he allows him to go through this kind of hardship in life. Besides, theology is done when one is trying to start new enterprise for God’s direction. And somebody does theology in times of reflection and evaluation that God has entrusted him to accomplish assignment in life or ministry.
The locations of doing theology

              Theology is done wherever we go. It does not have limited space; it depends on the opportunity, challenge and situation where somebody is in. Theology can be done at work place, offices, library, seminary, school, house or room, on the road side, and beach etc. The more one does theology and reflects upon what the Lord has been teaching through His word and experiences with the help of the Holy Spirit that will transform one’s life  and  ministry towards God’s agenda.


The procedure in doing theology
              The procedure in doing theology is to do theology from above and theology from below in sermon, lecture, teaching and every day of life with reflection on what God has been doing in our lives and others. In this process, one’s commitment and spiritual effort are required so that suck kind of good theology can lead one’s life to grow in virtue and holiness. The procedure also requires learning and knowing more about the word of God systematically, biblically and practically in connected with daily life.
The role plays of the Bible in doing theology

              The Bible plays the most important role in doing theology because theology comes from the Bible in a sense how one understands God through it and preaching about the Words. It is the foundation of theology because theology is done based on one’s personal understanding about the Word and how it relates to his situation. Therefore, good theology can’t be done without having appropriate knowledge of the Bible with its context, culture and historical perspectives. Even if one does, his theology will not be sound theology rather it may become heresy.

The importance of historical context in doing theology

                     Historical context is very essential when one does theology because one carries on his historical context in the way how he does and reflects his theology. The theology of somebody can be different from another as he comes from godly parents, conservation Baptists, and Pentecostal churches etc. Beyond, the theology of other religion such as Buddhist, Muslim, and Confusionist will be up side down with our Christian theology because they are unbelievers and they don’t’ know about the living God. Their theology will depend on the historical context of their former heroes with regard to their religion. In the same manner, the Christians will also follow their historical context in doing theology. Therefore, understanding one’s own context and the context of the Bible are compulsory for good theology.

The role plays of culture in doing theology

              Most of the people are shaped and moved by their culture. Culture has so much impact on one’s life and character in belief and theology. Therefore, one must know the sphere of his culture where he comes from and the culture of the Bible as well so that he can integrate the gap between these two cultures in the light of the Bible and contextualize it in the present situation for practical benefits of his own and for others.

The role plays of tradition in doing theology

              Tradition takes place a very important aspect in doing theology because everybody is influenced by his tradition as culture. If someone has a traditional background which rooted on the biblical truth, that person will use the same pattern that he adopts from the traditional church, denomination and doctrine of God in doing theology. Somebody’s way of doing theology is the outcome of his tradition. Therefore, it’s important to recognize the tradition and environments where one comes from to have a sound theology.

The role plays of philosophy in doing theology

              One’s Philosophy is made by his composition of knowledge about what is right, relevant and best for him from what he had experienced and has been experiencing in the present situation. One’s philosophy about the Bible, God and others will affect his way of doing theology and life. If one believes the existence of God, source of life, provider, protector, and controller of all universes, that kind of his philosophy will lead him to have holy life and good moral behaviors. Besides, such kind of philosophy will develop and progress his theology higher and deeper for self and others as well.

              In summary, theology is one’s active engagement with God through his word in daily experiences. Therefore, it’s so important for Christians to have sound knowledge about the biblical revelation of God specifically through his son Jesus and the word (John 3:5) and general revelation through his creations (Ps 19:1-5). Besides, theology requires concrete knowledge about the word systematically, dogmatically and biblically with its historical context; cultures and traditions so that by reflecting one can do theology with his own context and cultures. Since theology is all about God and his relations with us, we need to be sensitive in our theology in order to avoid heresy and to have good theology for our lives and others as well. When we have good theology, our lives grow and we become blessings to thousands of thousands by our preaching, teaching, sharing and models. 
The implications of doing theology in my personal context
              Before expounding my way of doing theology, I would like to share some of our Chin cultural background, historical, traditional backgrounds. Historically, we are from pagan backgrounds who worship Khuanu (god-who rules over the earth), mountains, tress etc. Our forefather used to give sacrifices to them by cocks, pigs and cows to receive blessings and good days. Besides, they worshiped and believed that there was a spirit in the high mountains or big trees who are controllers of life and things. They believed that sickness, famines and death were caused and killed by the Spirit therefore; they used to give sacrifice in order to make them happy and heal their sickness and diseases. After Christianity was introduced and becoming Christian, our chin people worship Pathian (Living God whom we worship) and gradually all worshipers of evil spirit diminished and now becoming 94% of our people are Christians. Then, our cultures and traditions are also shaped by our Christianity.

              Most of our churches are influenced by conservative Baptist or fundamental Baptist yet the Pentecostal movement and charismatic movement are also introduced in many places nowadays. Most people think that theology must be done only by pastors, evangelist or seminary students and they separate the term “theology”, different from the Word of God. Therefore, they don’t want to hear about term theology but they love to hear the Word of God and what he is doing in their lives and in this world. Thus in this case, I think we the pastors and elders in the church are responsible to link between these gaps by introducing theology as thinking about God, studying his word, having intimate relationship with him and trusting Him in every decision that we make and obedience to follow the Word. I think we need to tell them that theology is not something different rather everything that we do with regards to God and us.

              Evaluating my past ministry, theology from above is the way how I normally do theology in church and ministry, but after realizing theology from below, I am also challenged to do theology in balance way. Therefore, I think both approaches will be healthy and that will make us and our members grow in relationship with God. Being a pastor, minister, servant and leader, we are challenged to carry on the biblical, systematical and practical theology to stir up our people on God’s agenda through the scriptures and the help of the Holy Spirit.

              Personally, the knowledge and understanding of the Biblical truth that I have about God and His love control all my ways of life- motive, character, views and action. The comfort and joy that I have is the result of knowing the presence of God regardless of my situation. My understandings of God and intimate relationship with him give me security, courage, hope, wisdom and discernment in every day of my life, realizing that God would never leave me alone when I am in His will and do what he wants me to do.  Relating to my fellow church members and friends, the theology of God that I have convince me to wear the humility of Jesus (John 13:1-5; Matt 20:28; Mark 10:45; Phil 2:7), love and compassion. Beside, it warns me the dangers of pride (Pro 8: 13; 16: 18) and wrong motive (cf.Prov. 4: 23) in life. My theology and understanding of His word give me holy life in this sinking sins and injustice. It helps me to be accountable and show integrity even in the smallest things toward God and man. Beyond, it gives me biblical vision and burden so that I can accomplish the missions and calling that set ahead for me in this word by the empower of the Holy Spirit. I wish the same enlightenment and conviction that I have through my understanding of theology will impact all my church members and those who are in contact with me. Besides, it’s my desire and vision that not only my church members would experience God by doing theology but also the whole world will come to know Him in an intimate way and respond His calling. Then, our theology will be the motivators of our life, ministry and obligations to accomplish successfully for the praise and glory of our Lord.