What is Theology?
The word theos is Greek for “God,” and -ology which is from the Greek word logos meaning study of or “word.” Most literally then the word theology means "study of God" or “words about God” (not to be confused with the words from God). It is the articulation of an individual's or a community’s beliefs about God.
As such theology will always fall short from a complete & accurate description of the God of all creation. Despite the fact that our theology falls short, and sometimes entirely misses the point, it is still a necessary way to provide an anchoring point. When it is done well it is our humble attempt to explain what we mean when we confess that “Jesus is Lord," and when we say that it should subvert and redefine what the we count as “rational.”
Just as a toddler tries to form sentences, and she can’t quite get her mouth around the words, so it is with us trying to communicate who God is and what the kingdom of God is like. But just as we take great delight in hearing our tiny children talk about things they can not yet understand, God takes pleasure in us, with our halted uttering and incomprehension, trying so hard to grasp the infinite mystery with our finite comprehension.
It is destructive then for us to treat out theology as if it is written in stone. We are at our worst when we fail to to leave room for possible errors in our theology, we risk making our theology an idle. When we build our theology up and act as if it is somehow written by God himself, when we fail to see how our theology falls short, we fail to recognize our own humanness. After all our best guess is probably laughable from God's point of view.
How we develop and treat our theology has massive implications for how we live. Theology is a practice and a craft that is rooted in the other practices of the Church (e.g., mission, evangelism, worship, communal prayer, preaching, hospitality to the poor and the stranger, living life together, service to our neighbor, nonviolent encounter/witness to our enemies...). Our theology should help us to be the church, and it should push us to more faithfully be a community of disciples of the way of Jesus in our time and in this place.
When we as the church are at our best, we recognize that people will always be in process and no one individual's theology will completely line up with our communal theology. We celebrate this diversity as a strength that brings a balance to our understanding of God. Our tradition is a wide stream that allows much room for how we try to articulate our understanding of God.
As such we should constantly be on the look out for new and different ways to speak the message that has been entrusted to us. We should pull words and phrases from our culture and turn their meaning on its head, just as Jesus and the early Church did.