I used to get nervous around Biblical scholars. They would start talking about the text in the original languages and I realized the only Greek I understood was yogurt. To be honest, some of the theologians I encountered did not seem like anyone I would want to be around on purpose. It seemed like some theologians were to joy in Christ what nutritionists were to enjoying cheesecake. They both took something full of delight and made you feel mostly bad about it.
Yet something has changed in my life. I saw the need for a solid theological basis for what I believe.
Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book
Don’t know much about the french I took
But I do know that I love you
And I know that if you love me too
What a wonderful world this would be
I wrote an ode (cross off “Bucket List” Item Number 87 – use Ode in a sentence) using that classic tune to describe our lack of theological depth. This classic rewrite appears in my book When Bad Christians Happen to Good People.
For the music director. A psalm of parody sung to Sam Cooke’s Wonderful World. All rise.
Don’t know much about theology,
Don’t know much Christology.
Don’t know much about Leviticus,
Don’t know why they had the Exodus.
But I do know that God loves you,
And I’m trying hard to be good too.
What a wonderful faith this would be.
Well, I don’t claim to be a good Christian,
But I’m trying to be.
For maybe by bein’ a good person, brother,
I can gain eternity.
Don’t know much about the Pharisees,
Can’t explain the Trinity.
Don’t know much ecclesiology
Don’t know what a good tithe should be.
But I think that God forgives my quirks,
And I figure if I do good works,
What a wonderful faith this would be.
Humorous? I hope so. But the problem is not so funny. What do we believe? And why? I think one of the fundamental problems in many churches is that we do not effectively connect the theological dots of justification, imputed righteousness, identity in Christ, sanctification, and other assorted church words. Remember the connect the dots books you had as a kid? When you connect the theological dots the picture revealed is Jesus.
Now I find myself desiring to learn more and more about the Gospel of Jesus. I want to understand church history and doctrine. I want to understand grace and I want to live it. I have a long, long, long way to go but someday I hope that the scouting report on me will reflect this summary of Jesus. Jesus was beautifully described in John’s Gospel as being “full of grace and truth”. That would be a dramatic shift from what I have been described as being full of at other points in my journey. I am excited about continuing to refine my theological base but I want to always be mindful that truth preached without grace is not received nearly as well as the reverse approach.
Connect the dots. The picture is beautiful. And I think the picture will begin to look something like this.
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3, NLT
Waterbrook and Multnomah are offering an incredible eBook special for When Bad Christians Happen to Good People. You can buy the eBook version for $1.99 until November 4th. That is less than a Grande drip coffee at Starbucks! Check it out at your favorite retailer by clicking on a link below.