Finding Peace and Comfort in Christian Theology

I just recently received this email from a commenter who wishes to remain anonymous; at least with the rest of the world (he told me his name in his email):

Found your blog while doing a search on Barth a while back.  God without religion is what is really what most interests me.  I was bound by religion most of my life until I began to study on my own.  I have to admit that my quest was selfish at first, trying to figure out how my life was such a mess at forty.  I think hunger for answers was the key.  Twenty years later I look for kindred spirits on the blogs.  I am a layman from the Bible Belt.

After you accomplish your phd., what then, a pastor, teacher, preacher.  Will you write books to impress other theologians?  Just plain life is what most people struggle with, will you be able to speak deep theological concepts to help them get by?  I am sorry about your illness,  I lost my older sister to pancreatic cancer In 2010.  I married a woman whose husband had cancer.  I hope  you find what you are looking for in your theological endeavors.  I don’t like to post comments on blogs. [emphasis mine]

I appreciate this emailer’s comment. I don’t write to impress other theologians, though; unless of course we consider Jesus the theologians of the theologians. Then I want everything I write to magnify his name (which I know oft it doesn’t). Nevertheless, the emailer brings up an interesting point; it is a point that I have heard made to me quite a bit in the past. It is that old fear that many Christians have of quenching the work of the Holy Spirit by becoming theologians of glory (so called), or by doing their theology for the praise of men rather than the glory of Christ (the cross).

I have written on this topic—theology of the cross V. theology of glory—multiple multiple times in my 8 year blogging career. I don’t want to redress all of that here. I just want to highlight that without theological reflection (the kind that people fear could quench the Spirit), we wouldn’t have the kind of grammar for God that we all take for granted now (as if how we think of God [i.e. Trinity etc.] just fell out of the heavens just prior to the time that we were “saved”). I find no comfort in a God who I cannot know, or cannot meaningfully talk about (fellowship) with others. He provided teachers for his church for a reason.

We can offer comfort and hope to others only because we have a God that has revealed himself; and in such a way that implied categories etc. come along with this revelation with the expectation of being unpacked, reflected upon, and thus become the source of worship and hope.

I understand the commenters concern, but it isn’t a necessary one, per se.

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3 comments

  1. I love theology because I love God. Theology is how we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” I find that delving into theology brings the “consolation” Ignatius of Loyola spoke of:

    “I call it consolation when the soul is aroused by an interior movement which causes it to be inflamed with the love of its Creator and Lord and consequently can love no created thing in this world for its own sake, but only in the Creator of all things…I call consolation any increase in faith, hope, and charity and any interior joy that calls and attracts to heavenly things, and to the salvation of one’s soul, inspiring it with peace and quiet in Christ our Lord.”

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  2. Ultimately, we were created to share in the life of the Triune God – that “in-the bosom-of-the-Father” life Jesus amazingly shares with us – theology helps us understand that that is the gospel, and it is a consolation to good to hoard. Theology brings us to want to share such good news!

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