The 21st Century Retooling of the Church – Part XVI
The suffix “ology” means “study of”; the prefix “theo” means god. “Theology” = “Study of God”! Really? How do we study about God? Western thought advocates through head knowledge. Jewish thought advocates experience through the heart.
When earning my Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies through Christian International, I had to take a theology course. It was one of the most intellectually difficult courses that I have ever attempted. On a given topic, theologian after theologian was quoted on what “they thought” the meaning of a passage to be usually in a dialogue only a trained graduate level intellectual could understand. Often I would read a paragraph two or three times until its meaning became clear. Instead of an survey through the Old Testament or New Testament course, which is considered an undergraduate course, graduate level courses focus on key beliefs or motifs as theologians over the centuries debate its meaning.
My concern was always how does these “advance” courses advance our “Christian walk” in the Lord. Do these courses cause a believer to be a better “doer of the Word”, not just a listener. Usually not, because they are all head knowledge.
Yet in Christendom today, our leaders are still “developed” and “promoted” on what they learn, not how they apply it. Then they try to “dispense” their knowledge through sermons which we have been told is the keystone of a Sunday morning service. In some segments of Christendom, churches envy if they can have a pastor with a Doctorate Degree. In many churches, staff is always taking “courses” to promote their positions and careers.
If we are to retool the 21st Century Church we must ask, “Did Jesus propagate this strategy?” Even though Jesus was called rabbi, or teacher, he never founded a Bible School, a Theological Center, or a University; he chose 12 misfits, who the leaned of his time quickly recognized as being “untrained”. Jesus always battled the Sadducees and Pharisees, the intellectual religious leaders of his day. He was NOT one of them, in fact opposing them. Would Jesus oppose the clergy/laity system today if he was physically here? Probably.
Jesus “walked the walk”, not just “talked the talk” nor “debated the debate”. He took his disciples on constant field trips to teach lessons of “the kingdom of God is like…..” He taught them how to “experience” the kingdom of God, not “understand” it. Now don’t get me wrong, the Holy Spirit, who has been sent to be our teacher, reveals the “mysteries” of the gospel to those who seek it, but knowledge of those “mysteries” is only good if they are applied to the walk of faith a believer is taking.
Today if a person is serious about his faith, we say he is “called” into the ministry, having him leave his local congregation to be trained at a Bible college, then a Seminary, only to be sent somewhere else, usually not returning to the local congregation, which first developed him. I believe the five fold is to “equip the saints for the work of the service”, at least that is what Ephesians 4 states. I believe the local body has been “called” to “equip” the local body to “serve” the local body. For that to be done, the 21st Century Church has to be retooled to have local believers impact their local community. We will look at this challenge in following blogs.