Practical theology

I was having a conversation recently with a church leader I have the utmost respect for. We were talking about Bible schools, seminaries, and Christian education. During the conversation, she made a comment that was very interesting to me. She said in essence, “Most people who come into my office don’t want to talk about theology, they want to talk about their problems.”

The implication was that knowing where you stand on deep theological issues is great, but practically speaking, they won’t come up very often.

Shortly after this conversation, I was preaching a message to teenagers about obeying their parents.  The text I was using was Ephesians 6:1-3. Paul writes, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Ephesians 6:1-3 (ESV)

 On the surface, preaching a message about obeying your parents is about as easy as it gets. No need for Bible school, seminary, or Christian education. But as I prepared, I realized there was a big theological issue at stake. Does the promise associated with honoring your parents still apply today? It would be easy to get up and tell teenagers, “Listen, you should obey your parents because if you do you’ll live a long and prosperous life.” But is that what Paul meant?

I ended up landing on the fact that this promise doesn’t apply today. I can explain that some other time, but here’s the point of this post: Our theology will shape how we respond to life. Theology may not be directly related to most of your conversations, but your theology is indirectly affecting every conversation. Because of this, it’s crucial for us to know what we believe, and why we believe it. People may not be asking about theology, but they are asking theological questions… whether they know it or not.

How have you seen this play out? Have you had a time when you recognized theology’s importance?

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