One of my current non-blog projects is a curriculum of sorts on basic theology. I find that a lot of Christians find theology to be intimidating or to be relegated to the scholarly or seminary-trained. I also find that we (myself included) don’t often consider the practical implications of our theology. We all have a basic theology-our beliefs about God and faith-and that set of beliefs, whether systematized and thought out or not, snowballs into chains of other beliefs and our actions. In other words, our theology shapes our worship and our living.
For example, Protestants have inherited from our Reformation forefathers a deep value of the Bible. Martin Luther came to his Reformation understanding because of his study of the Scriptures, and he believed strongly in the power of the Word of God. So, he translated the Bible into the German language, so the average fellow in the church could understand it himself. Sermons which explained the Bible became important. We believe it is from the Bible we receive the authoritative Word of God, not from a human intermediary or tradition. This is a basic theological belief about what determines Truth and Authority. If you observe most Protestant church services today, the “high point” of the service will probably be the sermon, because its role in holding up and applying the Truth and Authority of Scripture is key. Theology has shaped worship.
This awareness has made me much more reflective about church services I’m a part of. I am left wondering, “What does this say about what we believe? What does this communicate about who we think God is and who we are in light of it? What does this communicate about our mission in the world?” My recurring question has become “What are we celebrating?” Are we celebrating our giving and attendance? Are we celebrating an emotional reaction? Are we celebrating disciple-making and life transformation? Are we celebrating the Gospel?
What we “celebrate,” how we worship, communicates a particular belief, just as how we live our lives tells a story of our priorities and values. My prayer is that our churches are so obsessed with the Gospel and our belief so deeply etched with its truth that there is no doubt of the answer to this question.