Theology from My Back Patio

by John Ellis

Theology shouldn’t be reserved for the professionals. But it is. An argument can be made from history that, unfortunately, this sad reality has been the norm throughout much of the history of the Church. Today, as 2019 comes to a close, it doesn’t appear to be any less the unfortunate reality than it was 1,000 years ago when illiteracy rates were much higher. Today, even amongst the plethora of gifts and tools God has given us, we – the “non-professional” – find the fruits held out by a consumer mentality too tempting. Our time has many more demands, and our society has convinced us that entertainment is the prize we deserve. Instead of reading the Bible and communing with God in prayer in the morning, the alerts on our phones dominate our attention. Instead of opening our home to fellowship with the saints, we jealously guard or “downtime.” Instead of spending the evening learning about who God is, we make sure to never miss the latest Netflix offering. Anything but theology. We’re not the pro’s, after all.

If we do interact with theology outside of the worship service on Sunday, it’s via one-minute devotionals or a verse-for-the-day email reminders. At best, we quickly skim whatever Christian living book our small group is currently reading/discussing on the day our group meets.

For many of us, real theology – deep-dives into theology rarely happens in ways that honor the writer to the Hebrew’s subtext when he wrote, “About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil (Hebrews 5:11-14).”

Like the original recipients of Hebrews, how many of us, who should be teachers, are still dependent on someone else to spoon-feed us the “basic principles” of theology?

I’m not a professional. I’m not credentialed nor degreed. I simply study theology while sitting on my back patio. My motives are for God’s glory, my continued sanctification, and so that I can better lead my family. And, while lesser down the scale of importance but still not trivial, I enjoy learning about my Creator. Sitting in the warm sunshine with a breeze rustling the pages of my Bible or systematic theology book or whatever book I may be reading is near the heights of enjoyment for me. Writing about what I’m learning or contemplating approaches those heights. And I write for myself. If you have stumbled across this blog, my prayer is that my own musings encourage you to ramp up your efforts to love God with your mind, though the power of the Holy Spirit.

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