Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Write a personal theology statement

Theology has such a bad stigma to it. When you break the word down it comes from "theos" meaning God, and "logos" meaning words. So theology is really nothing more than words about God. We've really religious-ed that word up, haven't we? (No you don't have deja vu, that is the exact same paragraph that opened my last post. It's on purpose).

We all have words about God, things we believe or things we say we believe; but I don't feel that many of us adequately think it through and put down our "words about God" out on paper for us to take a step back and see what we really think. I think that every person should have a personal theology statement, in the same way that every church should have a church theology statement.

Personal Theology Statement

I believe that everyone has a personal theology. We may have never written it out as such, but you have a theology statement roaming around in your brain. If you actually take the time to write it out, you may be pretty surprised at what you see.
I believe our personal theologies drive our lives, they focus our efforts, and they reveal what is important to us. We see everything through our personal theology...so why wouldn't we want a clear idea of what that really is? If for nothing else than personal introspection? Maybe as you're drafting one up for yourself, you'll find some questions along the way. Or examine how to better align your actions with your beliefs.

What do you really believe anyway?

A theology statement doesn't have to be a large list of beliefs, propositions, proof-texts & Bible references. It doesn't have to be a fancy 11 point creed, or something flowery with tons of religious language in it. But it should be honest. It should be personal. It may even be pretty conversational. Something you'd be comfortable saying if a close friend asked you, "So what do you really believe anyway?"  I don't necessarily think if that situation were to occur 

Simple or complex?

Maybe your personal theology is nothing more complicated than "Love God. Love people." But you know in your mind what you mean by "love." And there is a construct in your brain hole that you define as "God." I think a personal theology is best being either as short, long, complicated, simple as you like. If you can honestly look at it from the perspective of someone asking "What do you believe?" and think it's a straightforward answer, then you've got a pretty good theology statement going.

Open conversation

I don't think a theology statement should answer every question ever asked. Come on, the Bible doesn't answer every question. And it's a pretty long book. But if your theology statement lends itself to opening the door for questions and conversation, I think you're on the right path. 

Where do you start?

Maybe you don't know what to write? Maybe it's because you don't really know what you believe about God? And that's fine if you don't know, but if you never address that issue, you won't ever believe anything. Theology statements change in time as we change in our lives. It's natural. Just start writing (or dictating...come on, we live in the future!) and see where it takes you.

Just think that someone you care about (close friend, family, etc) asks you what you believe. They're not trying to trap you, but they're legitimately asking. What do you say?

Then write it down.

So, have you ever made a personal theology statement before? Any chance on getting you to share one if you have? 

Do you think this is even a worthwhile exercise? Why, why not?