Don’t Be a Theoretical Theologian

I’m not very old.  I’m 24.  But the older I get and as I work with different people in ministry contexts, the understanding for my need of practical theology deepens.  I’m glad I’m learning this now and not when I’m 50.

We all know people who can argue about finer points of theology in regards to spiritual gifts, the atonement, justification, eschatology, etc.  However, when it comes to practical living, they fall flat on their face.  There are guys who can talk Calvinism all day, but do not know their wife’s favorite restaurant.  Perhaps you are one of those people.  I know I can be from time to time.

The people and students I work with know that I love doctrine.  And it is essential!  But if it’s only head knowledge and theory, what’s the point?

So many people are prepared to answer questions about the doctrines I mentioned above (or others).  That’s all well and good, but here’s the kind of questions I get from people (and some I’ll probably be asked once I pastor a church):

  • Is it wrong to kiss my girlfriend?
  • What can I do to stop eating so much?
  • How can I get myself to read the Bible everyday?
  • Why do I have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning?
  • How can I love my parents better?
  • Why am I so bad at communicating?
  • Why isn’t God answering my prayers?
  • How can I stop drinking so much?
  • How do I stop procrastinating?

I assume that you get these questions, too.  Of course, there are those questions like, “What is irresistible grace?” and “What does Paul teach about the sanctification process?” and many other doctrinally oriented questions.  But if you merely answer a question, instead of responding to a person, you aren’t doing anyone any good.

Theology was made for man, not man for theology.  Take everything that the Holy Spirit teaches you — everything in the Scriptures, all the doctrines — and be intensely practical.  That’s what everyday life is all about.