Have you ever wondered about the relationship between theology, life, and the Bible? ‘Not really’, I hear you thinking. Well, perhaps not consciously, but that’s the point. As Christians we are continuously faced with questions about how we should live, what choices to make, how to lead godly lives in a complex world, how to be wise. This happens every day, all the time.
Every time we think about how to live or what to choose, we’re thinking theologically (whether we know it or not). And every time we act on a decision, we’re living out our faith in practice (or in academic terms, praxis). We may not realise it because it’s usually happening subconsciously. Once in a while we might suddenly wake up and think ‘what would Jesus do?’, but that’s usually not helpful. Jesus didn’t face climate change, Covid19, social media, or artificial intelligence. And the Bible seems no help either. So are these relationships even relevant to life today?
Let’s just step back a moment and think of a triangle. At the points place theology, Bible, and praxis. In the simplest possible terms, theology is ‘how we think’; the Bible is ‘what we have’ (our primary resource); and praxis is ‘what we do’. Each of these needs to inform the others – continuously – or we begin to lose our way. Theology doesn’t work in a vacuum, neither does Scripture. So imagine a circle around the triangle, connecting each point with arrows moving constantly in both directions. We can call this a dynamic interrelationship. (Dynamic expresses constant flow and movement.)
If that sounds like the description for another triangle, a trinitarian one, you’re not wrong. The Trinity is not static, but the dynamic interrelationship between Father, Son & Spirit. Similarly our triangle requires conscious effort to do it well. Our theology should inform our practice; the Bible critiques our theology – and sheds light on how we should live; but new theology arises from life’s complexities – and around it goes. All this takes effort, knowledge, skill and practice. In the centre of our triangle we place any issue or challenge we face, from trivial to colossal: climate change, teenage children, genetic modification, the Old Testament. That’s what is meant by ‘doing theology’. It’s hard work – but praxis makes perfect!