Why I Love God But Hate Theology
God wants us to know him and be in a relationship, not to study him or try to explain him
When people learn of my deep interest in studying the Bible and my passion for God, they often ask me a theological question. I groan when they do. You see, I hate theology.
While a few may have a genuine interest in knowing my answer, for most their query is a test of sorts to see if my views align with theirs. If we agree, they accept me; if we disagree, they dismiss me.
Regardless of the question, it usually involves a big theological word or two, a label so they can more easily judge my philosophical perspective and ascertain whether we are kindred believers. It doesn’t matter if I know the meaning of their five-syllable abstraction or not, I usually shrug and say, “I don’t care” or “it doesn’t matter.”
I need a better response because this irritates people. They assume I’m being dismissive. But I’m not; I’m serious. Totally.
What is Theology?
At its most basic level, theology is the study of God. I love God, but the idea of turning him into an academic construct with philosophical underpinnings sickens me. I refuse to go there.
I don’t think God wants me to study him; I think he wants me to know him. There’s a difference. I see no value in being able to articulate a systematic theology because God desires a relationship, not a dissertation.
Consider Someone Who Matters
Think of a significant person in your life. For me, that would be my wife. What if I told her, “I’m going to devote the rest of my life to studying you from afar, and then I’ll write a book explaining you in highly philosophical terms to everyone else?” Would that win her heart?
No. She wants me to spend time with her. She desires me to know her. To attempt to turn our relationship into a theoretical abstraction dishonors her – and would make her mad. Rightly so.God doesn’t want me to study him; he wants me to know him. Click To Tweet
The same is true with God. He wants me to spend time with him. He wants me to know him, not on an intellectual basis but on a personal one. To truly know him means to experience him in relationship, not as an academic pursuit.
As I read the Bible and write about the Bible, it’s not to add to the towering mountain of theology about God, it’s so that I can spend time with him and know him through relationship. Anything else dishonors him, and likely makes him mad.
Just as my wife is a mystery I will never fully understand, so is God. And it’s a wonderful thing. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.