“Theology Matters’ is a blog series on the Asian American Christian Fellowship at UCLA’s book study of “Dug Down Deep” by Joshua Harris. In this series I will be posting updates, reminders, thoughts, and study questions all about the book.
It has taken entirely too long for me to update and maintain this blog, and for that I apologize to all my readers. I enjoy writing but between my job, school, ministry, and relationship duties, it’s been difficult to sit down and think clearly for a couple hours without dozing off.
Lately, I’ve been encouraged by a number of things. Thankfully, I’ve completed all my Political Science classes and all I have left are Religious Studies classes; so I’ve been really blessed with courses this quarter that focus on faith issues rather than political issues. This quarter alone I’ve been forced to look at medieval philosophers/theologians (who were Calvinists before John Calvin), the development of the bible (namely the OT), the history of Rome during NT times, and the reformation of Islam in British India. Needless to say, I’m learning a lot and I’m enjoying it.
One of the greatest encouragements I’ve had this quarter is in ministry. As you know, God has been gracious enough to let me help lead the Asian American Christian Fellowship at UCLA, and I’m overjoyed at the fact that this quarter the leadership team has decided to pursue a plan to equip members of our fellowship with solid theological understanding. In my view, college is a time and place where ideas are shared, thoughts are challenged, and faith is questioned. There are no parents forcing you to go to church, no youth pastors to hold your hand as you recite bible verses. No, you’re on your own in the midst of a secular institution where worldly wisdom flourishes and God is treated like a doormat. Because of this, many college students fall away from or deny their faith during these years. Unfortunately, we all know people who have completely turned away from their faith in college; people who have been enticed by the temporary pleasures of this world, not fully understanding the eternal implications that those choices will ultimately reap.
As a response, there needs to be a Christian movement towards theological edification at the university level. I can see all your faces cringing at that word, “theology.” It’s a scary word, isn’t it? It comes from the Greek word theologia which basically means “the study or understanding of God” (theos meaning “God” and logia meaning “study of”); it’s a word that many scholars and too few churches use in their everyday vocabulary, but theology is the basis of our understanding of God—everyone is a theologian. Even atheists are theologians when they discuss their views on the existence of God. This is why it is so important for Christians especially to learn about correct theology when they are in college. You see, college is a prepping ground for future Christians: it is here that we learn, discover, and think about God at an entirely different level than before. This is where our lives are impacted by theological truths that aren’t often expressed in mainstream Christianity. We have the opportunity to explore the characteristics and attributes of this God that we blindly followed all throughout high school, to be in a closer, more intimate relationship with our Creator. It is crucial. Christians who do not develop strong theological foundations in college are those who often enter the working world worshipping the wrong “god” and enter false Christian movements that oppose God altogether. This is why cults form and heretical Christian movements garner so much support, because people do not try to understand theology, they don’t try to understand our God. God was gracious enough to reveal himself to every Christian through his Word and the Holy Spirit, and all we have to do is read and understand it. For college students, the time to do that is now.
Now, I understand that many college Christians want to “act” or “do” things rather than sit and learn, and I completely understand that feeling. Too many times, Christians will hear and learn but fail to act. But one thing to consider is the notion of misinformed actions. Have you ever encountered a Christian who goes to a protest in support of gay rights? Or a church member bent on meeting everyone in the congregation as a way of showing his or her “love” for people? Or even a man who inappropriately demands that his girlfriend “submit” to all his decisions? All of these people are acting out of a lack of a theological understanding in their lives. They are acting without first knowing and understanding God’s own heart. In light of these examples, I must assert that actions should be an outpouring of one’s theology. In this description you will notice that “theology” isn’t a term based on knowledge and wisdom, it’s a term that (in due time) is supposed to affect the heart. Theology should so affect someone that their desires can’t help but mesh with the desires of our Lord, moving us to right actions. Our hearts should break for the sins of homosexuals, our love apparent at all times (not just at meetings), and our relationships resembling that of Christ’s relationship with the church. We need to know our God before we can act on behalf of him.
To bring it back to the point of this post: I have been greatly encouraged by my fellowship because of their devotion to equipping college students with proper theology. If you’re part of AACF (and you’ve made it this far in the post), you’re about to get a heads up on what’s coming next quarter. As a leadership team, we are in the midst of selecting a theology-based book with hopes of starting an “All-AACF Book Study”. This plan has many phases that include inviting a professor of theology to speak at our large group meeting, reading the book, discussing them in various small group settings, and having speakers throughout the quarter talk about the importance of theology. Our purpose is not to enforce a certain perspective on anyone, but rather to reveal the importance of theology in the Christian life. We hope to instill a habit of studying God and the Scripture rather than just teaching students about God; we want to equip people so that they can carry this theological training with them for the rest of their lives. As the saying goes, “If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day; but if you teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.” Needless to say, it will be a challenging, all-out assault on understanding theology.
So with this, I will kick off this series appropriately named “Theology Matters.” I will be updating and posting as our leadership moves to select a book and as the book study goes on (every chapter or so), just to share my thoughts for those who are interested. Who knows, it might become required reading (haha).
If you have any good book recommendations, please comment and let me know. So far, here are the books we’re looking at:
1. “Bitesize Theology: An ABC of the Christian Faith” by Peter Jeffery
2. “Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why It Matters” by Joshua Harris
3. “Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God” by Bruce A. Ware
Thanks and God Bless!