The importance of theology being practical

Ruth Mooney, who is an American Baptist missionary in Costa Rica who works with Latin America Biblical University, in her latest newsletter shared a call she put out to some of the students as a follow up to an initial meeting at which students shared concerns about the problems their countries face and to “think theologically” about them.  She wrote,

“Last night we heard stories that presented a Reign of death, violence, terror, corruption, exploitation, misery and desperation. But we belong to the Reign of Life. We need to meet again to propose a new way of understanding and practicing our faith that, like mustard seeds, can create a different reality. I invite you to bring stories of concrete actions, dreams that you have for your country, and most of all, a new theology, a new way to see life, faith and the role of the people of God. Together we can make a difference.”

This highlights the truth that theology is practical in nature.  Too often, theology can be seen as an academic exercise and practically nothing more.  But what must be remembered is that theology, at its core, is about God’s nature, His heart, and how He operates from that nature and heart.  And, because God is a personal God, having a theology void of a practical aspect isn’t truly theology.

So, when considering how to connect theology, meaning God’s heart and character and how He operates, to actual situations, the starting point must be understanding His heart, character, and how He operates before actually addressing the actual situation or circumstance or person.

When that is done, this will reveal the end goal.  And from that, then the process is to go about how that end goal will be achieved.  I am thrilled by what Ruth and this group of students from various regions of Latin America are coming together to discuss, dream, and then act upon.

They are first starting with the dream, the goal, which, because they are thinking theologically about all of this, will be identical to God’s.  May they never lose the skill to do this.

I pray that the Spirit of all illumination, which already resides in each of them, will be active as they continue to come together and do real and true theology.  Amen.


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