Column: We are all theologians


Commentary by Michael VandenBerg

I read an article this past week by columnist Joel Belz entitled “Everything’s Religious” and it got me thinking of my first year in Seminary when Dr. I. John Hesselink proclaimed to all of us at orientation that we are all Theologians by virtue of being created by God with a God size curiosity about who created us. The only question is whether we would mature into good Theologians or poor Theologians. Good theologians, he explained, considered the facts around them and made decisions about God based on the evidence given from the past (writings), present (the surrounding world) and the future (our own inquisitive nature about things not yet present. A poor theologian simply ignores all the evidence and lets their emotions, personal experiences or biases cloud their decisions.

As I read Belz’s article I admired how he was able to see the religious, and I would say, the God factors, in all areas of life. He showed how religion was part of Politics, Education, Recreation, Family life, Romance, Entertainment, Journalism, Economics, etc. I have to admit that one of my favorite past times is to go to movies and see if I can pick out the worldview of the producers, the evidence that they bring to the movie and the theological implications of their conclusions. It makes me good at picking out the villain in crime shows, but the downside is that it drives my wife nuts if I share that information before the end. All life, in that it was created by God, displays His fingerprints, even if we choose not to see it.

The argument from popular culture is, “well that is fine for you, you believe in God, but I don’t so it doesn’t apply to me”. The fallacy with that argument is that our world contains truth which is unchangeable based simply on belief. If I believe that the world is flat it will not make it so. My believing that the laws of nature and of God don’t hold sway over me will not change the ultimate outcome. Try setting aside the law of gravity and then stepping off a high perch. Just because someone states that God is not real or that He is, will not change the outcomes, only the facts will. That leads me to state that it pays for all of us, given the monumental consequences of our choice of believing or not believing in God, to weigh the facts carefully. The prophet Malachi said, “Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house; and thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.” More than just our monetary gifts, it is our gift of discovery and inquiry. Explore the facts so you make wise choices. Be a good theologian or a person who thinks about God rationally.