Whether you know it or not you are a theologian. Every person on the planet has opinions about the divine. Whether they define the concepts in the same way or not, thoughts and ideas and concerns about God fall under the great umbrella of theology. And everyone has them, whether we admit it publically or not.
There is something we all must decide. It has to do with what kind of theologians are we going to be. Are we going to be good theologians or are we going to arrogant theologians? I think that most people don’t realize that this is the spectrum.
An arrogant theologian is someone who has arrived at the conclusion that they have all the information necessary about how the world works, how it started, how it is sustained, and what we are supposed to do in it. And, since they have “all” the information they can decide for themselves what to do with their lives. The principal problem for anyone to thinks they have all the information is that they really don’t. Every single second new information is being discovered about any subject you would like to pick. Every. Single. Second.
And what makes this entire situation even more problematic is that as technology advances the amount of knowledge available for consumption increases as well. So, if we consider that 100 years ago, 1000 years, and even 2000, years ago one could technically say that had learned all there was to know on any given subject. We know today that that was simply not true. There simply was no way for those living in ages past of knowing what they did not know.
Why is all this important? It is important because being a good theologian begins by accepting the basic premise that we don’t know everything. And, by extension, we can’t know everything there is to know about God. Even with all of the advances in technology, the physical sciences, the biological sciences, and the study of the cosmos we have the same problem that every inquirer of great questions has had in every period of human existence—we were not there when it all started. We can speculate and theorize, but in the end, we are left with theology (or for those in a non-religious context, philosophy). We are left with trying to understand the information before us and drawing a conclusion, hoping we are right, or just close. And that conclusion will always be based on limited information.
You may be wondering what any of this has to do with Lent. Let me close the circle this way. The season of Lent calls us to draw our attention to the sacrifice of Christ by asking us to sacrifice something ourselves. But to what end? For the purpose of reminding us that there are realities that are greater than the physical entanglements of this world. And it is these realities, these spiritual realities, from which we draw our strength. As followers of Jesus, we must draw our strength from God. Not from the offerings of the world. We must rely on God to sustain us. Not on the supplements that the world peddles.
So, if we are not improving our “theologian” chops we are shortchanging ourselves of learning more about and growing closer to God. Lent affords us an intentional opportunity to think intentionally about God. Who he is and who he wants us to be. This information has been given in God’s word and it can be known today by all who will seek him.