“Theology is to be done in service to the Church.”

What comes to your mind when you hear this statement? Do you immediately think about the importance of shaping your theological language in relevant terms so people in the church can understand and grasp the wider truths of scripture? If you do then you’re not to far from the meaning of the statement, at least how it normally hits us. We desperately need a theology that is intelligible for non-seminary or bible school trained believers, but we also need theology to be more than this.

To limit the significance of this statement to this sort of translation value would be to treat the word ‘Church’ as though it only referred to those who’ve already put their faith in Christ, to those who we can see with our eyes and hear their profession of faith with our ears (the Church visible). But the Church is much broader than the Church visible, the Church incudes those whom God has chosen for salvation but has yet to call them to living faith. If theology is truly for the Church then its for the Church invisible as well, those who’s salvation still remains to be known and testified to.

Authentic and genuine theology is one that is indeed done in service to the Church, both invisible and visible. It is something done in order to disciple and edify the saints but its also something that is done in order to empower us to share the gospel to those who don’t know Christ. As such theology is concerned with much more than our traditional systematic categories or biblical metaphors and motifs, its concerned with the cultural language of our everyday lives, its concerned with the values and questions that non-Christians hold in their hearts and minds.

To labor upon the call to theologize for the Church is to offer ourselves up to the dual service of discipleship and mission, if either is missing, authentic theology has left the building.

Real theology, is a “theology of the study” and a “theology of the road.”