Reading, gathering, learning, and evaluating information seems to be the never-ending progression of a student’s life in college. Every class is accompanied with a twelve page paper, a project, numerous book reports, and a dreaded final exam that keeps most students up the night before in a desperate attempt to learn a semester’s worth of information in a matter of hours.
However, we do not view this collegiate experience as one that molds us intellectually towards a theoretical faith, which can lead to irrelevant doctrinal beliefs. The goal of our academic experience is to seek (and simultaneously find) a truth that propels us to a place of appropriation, a place where theory meets practice. If all we have is a “puffed up” intellect that separates us from those whom we are commissioned to minister to, then we have gained nothing but an arrogance that derives from the very truth that is supposed to humble us.
The Christian faith cannot be measured by our knowledge of God, but rather it is measured by what our understanding of God propels us to do.
Knowledge without action has no merit. For example, we can learn everything there is to learn about the love of God. We can dissect Romans 8:28. We can look up the multiple Greek words for love, and how many times they have been referenced. We can look up Old Testament typologies (symbolic references) for love, and we can read how Jesus commissioned his disciples to love their neighbors. We follow a God that tells us over and over again to love everyone, neighbors and enemies alike. Nevertheless, how many times have we seen Christians fail to love? Our desire to separate ourselves from the world can cause us to shun the very people Christ commissioned us to love. We cease to interact with our “unsaved” neighbors. We can become self-righteous, arrogant in our beliefs, and scared to be infected with the sins of those around us. Our knowledge of God must never cause us to withdraw from loving our neighbor.
In understanding that our college experience must move beyond orthodoxy (right beliefs) to orthopathy (right affections) and orthopraxis (right actions), we must be careful not to swing the pendulum too far in the inverse direction. We must not become so comfortable in our practices and the way we have always done things that it diverts us from evaluating the current state of our faith.
We cannot compromise correct theological interpretation in the name of practical application.
After all, the church in some instances, has used its theological interpretation of the biblical text to substantiate the Crusades, the Inquisition, slavery, and the oppression of women. In choosing to have practice without theology, we run the risk of validating unjust actions. Therefore, we must be willing to critically engage the theologies and methodologies of the past and present. These critiques must lead us to engage a cyclical model of theology, where our actions influence our theology and our theology re-informs our actions.
As a university, it is our duty to resist the temptation to exist as a resounding drum that parrots the same information for hundreds of years. The university must serve as a safe place to critically reflect on theological ideas, no matter how daunting the task may be. Through prayer, reflection, Scripture, and the Christian community, we hope that this blog exists as a place where students can engage and express what they have learned in a constructive manner that leads to a practical application of the heart of God in our community.