I started with this topic: Why many Christians especially Pentecostals or Charismatics ignore theology? But after reading Ravi Zachariah’s news today, he started a broadcast called “Let My People Think”, I thought it’s a great way to put it!
Coming from a Pentecostal background myself as a pastor for decades planted numerous churches in Asia and now in America, I would say that the assumption is that theology is left to the pastors, but the glaring fact is that pastors themselves are not theologically trained either, that’s the most shocking and saddest thing. All we needed is passion and zeal to spread the word, and we will just do on the job training, and be sent out to evangelize and make disciples.
The sad truth today most Christians have no desire or hunger to embrace the learning of theology from the bible, because they feel comfortable in their Christian lifestyle which pretty much sees no need of any in depth study of scriptures. Though on the other hands, you would see churches teach practical teachings week in and out and the flock follows suit. This shows me that folks are desiring to learn, but no direction towards theology.
When I say theology, I say primarily the study of God, or theism. We can learn the study of man & woman or anthropology, New testament books, psalms etc., but the most important one is theism, the study of God theology in the world that motivates, captures our imagination. The last one is my favorite. I remember hearing Tim Keller’s sermons over the last like 7 years, numerous times, his teachings, thoughts and theology captured my imaginations, and my longings for the Lord. I thought that he came up with all those cool theology and ethos, but now I am in the seminary doing my own MABS or MDiv, I realize that many of those he said are actually not new, but been there in the church fathers, especially the reformed world for centuries, quoting folks like Augustine, Calvin, and the like.
I am speaking to church planters, pastors, and in fact many Church members especially leaders. The church has suffered so much ignorance, left behind of all those trailing blazing thinkers like Calvin, Augustine, Barth, Bavinck etc.
1. They want the applications only
Because of our background, most evangelical churches apart from some Presbyterian and Baptist churches, we are pretty much getting used to the fast straight shooter to applications kind of sermons. Having preached over a decade now in a charismatic background, I can tell you that we are lucky to be even preaching expositional sermons let alone clean cut exegetical expositional sermons. The reasons is that we want applications. Part of the reason is that preachers have not really experienced good expositional sermons themselves, and hence a far reach of theology, thinking theology is irrelevant.
2. They think theology is dry and not for the commoners or even pastors
Theology is dry. This causes them to read book not of theological type or reformed type, but to , again, applications type, and experiential type. I would say that folks with college education or equal or even high school, level, can and should read up of good theology books, or listen to some good teachings MP3. I would say if pastors don’t start learning theology, he would have little left to feed the flock after a while, no matter how good the heart is.
3. They think theology is mostly apologetics and we don’t need them
That’s the sad part. But this has nothing to do with the pastor learning theology. Theology is FAR bigger than apologetics. Apologetics is basically defending your faith, theology starts from the immutability of God, to the brokenness of mankind, and everything in between and beyond. Missing theology because of a small fragment is sad.
4. They want signs and wonders and not more reading and studying
People in the developing world, especially, love the signs and wonders ministry, and I love them too. However, we can’t just stay in the mode of signs and wonders, because we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 1). We need the power of the Spirit and the power of the Word, who is the Lord Jesus himself (John 1). By the way, I think the developed West has the opposite problem, jettisoning the signs and winders by naturalizing everything. Different world, different culture. The biggest threat in the West is liberalism, naturalizing everything, and removing the supernatural. (FYI)
5. Pentecostals don’t believe in theology calling it head knowledge
They want power and straight application for folks to go home with. But the applications come from proper hermeneutics and exegesis skill, commentary, books to read up, theology to learn. This sounds like pastors looking for a short cut, and guess who suffers? The church!
6. Which seminary and the costs?
I know this is a huge driving force. I have wanted to attend seminary like 20 over years ago but to no avail, because I didn’t know better where to start. I am glad I am in Reformed theological seminary, a great reformed thinking, and I recommend all to go with reformed teachings.
Costs? I think after the whole church gets the attitude of theology treasuring; we will see more churches sending people to seminaries.
Missing Out the Rich Tradition of the Early church Fathers
I would say, not knowing theology and our rich theology developed from early fathers like Athanasius, Augustine, Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Martin Luther to today, mentioning only some of the bigger names, we will miss out so much what God has already done in their lives, thinking’s, churches etc. To remove them from the thinking world of our flock, is a self-destructive mode.
Let My People Think!