Knowing Versus Studying

Been thinking about theology lately, partly prompted by some classes, and partly by discussion with a friend. Although I’m really into studying the Bible, I’m not really interested in theology. Discussions about end-times perspectives, or predestination, or the “problem” of evil and God’s good nature, just don’t interest me. In a way, that’s kind of weird, because I’m fairly academic and like to reason about things. But in this case, theology just never seemed interesting.

I finally started to understand why when reflecting on what “theology” means. “Theos” refers to God, and “-ology” means “the study of”. So “theology” is “the study of God”. At least, that’s one way to look at it.

So when you study theology, you are really studying the study of God. That’s a far cry from studying God, which seems much more interesting. Studying theology might lead you to read books on doctrine, while seeking to know about God would lead you to reading the Bible.

But even that seems unsatisfying. God is not an abstract entity, but Someone with whom we can have a relationship. I might try applying the same thinking to my wife, and say I want to study her. But why would I want to do that, instead of getting to know her better personally, through our relationship?

Likewise, why would I want to study God (or at least, stop at studying Him), instead of living in relationship with Him? Boy, that’s much different.

Coming back around to listening to other people, then instead of their learning about God, I may want to know about their relationships with Him. How is He working in their lives, and what do they know about Him through their experiences that would be good to share?

We even have a name for this sort of thing. It’s called “testimony”, witnessing to His activity in our lives. And that’s exactly what we’re supposed to be doing.

So instead of teaching each other intellectual facts about an abstract deity, how about if we share our personal stories of our relationships with Him? That seems like a much more interesting and fruitful activity, doesn’t it?

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