Theology is simply described as “faith seeking understanding.” Everyone reading this has faith and everyone reading this is trying to better understand their faith. If you have faith and are consistently trying to understand it, YOU are a theologian. Yes, I said it and it bears repeating: you are a theologian, even without degrees and training!! And we all have unique and creative ways of exploring our faith as theologians trying to make sense of life and how God is a part of it all.
My faith has been deepened more by reading novels and watching powerful movies than by studying theological works, as necessary as they are. These latter works are more cerebral and removed, while the latter integrate what is learned with everyday life. A great theologian is one who doesn't just live in the mind or intellect but has a passion for connecting concepts with people and life. Many don’t seem to be able to do this, and so they remain aloof, enclosed in an ivory tower.
Today’s reading from Acts shows Aquila and Priscilla helping Apollos deepen his understanding of Jesus and his teaching. They are not trying to “correct” him but help him learn more about the story of Jesus AFTER his baptism. They were “filling in” the missing pieces. In this beautiful, simply example of theology in action, the teachers were deepening their faith. And we explain using examples people can relate to.
In reading David Copperfield by Charles Dickens I’m given a wonderful literary figure of a boy trying to find his way in life in the midst of both parents dying, abuse, making friends who are trustworthy, encountering many who are not. Uriah Heep, (not the rock band!!) is a character not to be trusted but one who manipulates by making people think he’s “umble.” Far from it.
Reading a good novel expands one’s way of seeing how life is affected by Grace: moments of insight as we learn more about ourselves and our purpose. God is rarely mentioned in David Copperfield but the reader has the ability to experience vicariously how deeply we influence each other by our words and actions. The novel puts me into contact with how I treat people and how people have influenced me, for good or bad. God comes alive and present through the creativity of a fictional story. Jesus told many stories without mentioning God, only by explaining them did he mention God. Jesus, the greatest of theologians spoke with authority because his words reached people’s hearts and lives. He didn’t just spew forth words, words, words!!!
Read lots of different expressions, watch good movies, see plays, listen to music, but REFLECT on your reactions to them. Connect your life with these immersions in various cultural worlds. Experience God in your search and see yourself as a “theologian,” one who is trying to bring together faith, teachings, creed and life!!!